A summary of some important themes that emerged at this year’s show, from the (sometimes unspoken) impact of microservices software architectures on innovation and freedom of technology choice, to the stampede to offer set-top boxes based on Android OS and the emergence of voice presence and conversational UIs. Perhaps more importantly, the threads of the next ‘big-bang’ are starting to become visible.
The latest research from the Pay TV Innovation Forum, based on a survey of Pay TV and content owner executives, suggests more innovation could raise $20 billion a year for the TV industry. Whatever the exact figure, executives are already focusing more on innovation, fearful of increased competition and slower growth.
The cloud is already revolutionising video operations but its full potential is rarely harnessed. Microservices architectures change that. Video processing and media workflow software is not just virtualized – it is re-architected for life in the cloud, making television super-agile at lower cost. Videonet has been exploring the ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘when’ and ‘why not’ of microservices-based TV operations.
This autumn the company will start selling a high-end soundbox that is co-branded with Devialet. It has special modes that automatically refine the sound if you are watching TV via a Sky Q set-top box. There is an opportunity (and perhaps a growing imperative) for Pay TV operators to expand their CPE presence in homes. Sky is confident enough to take that step.
LG attracted attention at CES in January with a ‘wallpaper’ television display that abstracts all its processing and connectivity into a soundbar. There is no way to plug the Pay TV experience directly into the screen. Meanwhile service providers must stake a claim in the Alexa-style digital assistant ecosystem, possibly bundling their own mic and speaker into Wi-Fi extenders.
The IPTV giant has been using Zenterio OS for new set-top boxes in Romania, Hungary and Croatia. At OTE in Greece, Zenterio OS has been used to power a new hybrid platform and upgrade the legacy satellite STBs. Now Deutsche Telekom has deployed the software in Germany for its new ‘Start’ service.
Multicast ABR means you can stream popular live channels, including sports and 4K, across a managed CDN and keep a lid on bandwidth costs. Low-latency means multiscreen viewing, including on widescreen connected TV sets, feels like broadcast. Two of the hurdles have been cleared if you want to unify all video delivery around HTTP-ABR.
Do multiscreen providers operating their own virtualised platforms gain a ‘best-of-breed’ advantage?
Virtualisation has many benefits, starting with increased agility, but what about the argument that it will turbo-charge best-of-breed flexibility and give long-term competitive advantage to multiscreen providers who operate their own headends? Barry Flynn has been asking whether the theory stands up, and if the OVP managed operations alternative can compete.
The unified headend, which combines previously separate broadcast and multiscreen video processing platforms, is the natural next step for television operations and can have a significant impact on operations costs, agility and therefore competitiveness. Codec convergence and the performance of software-based video processing are leading media companies in this direction. A non-live shadow workflow can be used to prepare for the migration.
The new online video offer from Amazon represents a new kind of aggregator, a super-app that pulls together multiple subscription online services under a single brand, bill and user interface, with some content appearing a la carte for the first time. Analysts do not agree on the threat it poses to Pay TV, with one dismissing the likelihood of increased cord-cutting and another saying it threatens Sky’s dominance in the UK and Germany.