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CVP-2 Guidelines hailed as game-changer for premium content sharing

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Supporters claim that CVP-2 will encourage content sharing for premium video

The Digital Living Network Alliance believes it has the technology that will enable Pay TV operators to harness unmanaged CE devices as an extension of their own trusted network using standards-based technologies in the form of CVP-2 (Commercial Video Profile 2), the extension to the DLNA guidelines that were made public in March. Although the ambitions for CVP-2 and the technologies that underpin it are well known, the public release of this specification is an important event. Pay TV operators everywhere know that they must get their content into more rooms and onto all popular devices in their homes to maintain their position as the centre of the entertainment universe.   

DLNA members have been pre-testing and demonstrating products that meet the CVP-2 Guidelines and the certification programme will begin in September. The first products should be certified in Q4.

According to Brett Sappington, Director of Research with Parks Associates, “DLNA has established a widely recognized and important standard for interoperability between networked home and mobile entertainment devices. CVP-2 extends the benefits of the DLNA standard to subscription TV content while supporting the full range of subscriber features, security and user interface capabilities.”

The DLNA believes CVP-2 complies with certain FCC requirements that come into effect on June 2 for recordable high-definition video, closed captioning data, service discovery, video transport and remote control command pass-through. Sappington adds: “Because of the FCC’s prompting for an industry standard that allows TV services to be delivered to CE devices, North American cable operators will be among the first to adopt CVP-2.”

Comcast Cable, Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable, along with CableLabs, are among the companies that have contributed to CVP-2. Samsung and Broadcom are others.

Tom Lookabaugh, Chief R&D Officer for CableLabs, reckons CVP-2 is a win for all stakeholders. “Content providers’ rights are preserved, devices will have greater functionality  and consumers will have greater viewing device options,” he declares. Mark Hess, Senior VP at Comcast says “the DLNA CVP-2 Guidelines will provide a standardized platform for Comcast customers to watch the content they want on a broad range of devices within the home.” Steve Necessary, VP of Product Development for Cox, says, “This effort will enable us to expand the ecosystem of devices that integrate with our highly personalized Contour service.”

CVP-2 uses HTML5 RUI (Remote User Interface), which enables a service provider UI to be displayed on a remote device. A client device ‘discovers’ a server (like a DVR in the home) and then uses a URL to retrieve and render a user interface, which could be the Pay TV programme guide or an operator VOD portal, for example, on the secondary device. The UI is treated like a website, in effect, hosted on a server and displayed on the client.

HTML5 is considered the basis for enriched user experiences including 3D graphics and animations but just as importantly it can provide a consistent user experience on connected devices like smart TVs, game consoles, Blu-ray players, phones and tablets, supporters point out. The idea is that you can design a single, unified UI that is then adapted according to screen resolution, with  pixel-accurate reproduction.

While RUI can take care of the graphical presentation of a Pay TV service (and other services) across different devices, another DLNA-based technology, DTCP-IP is designed to secure premium content as it travels around the home. It allows content to be shared securely between products in the authorised domain but not shared with third-parties outside this home network.  

The new guidelines enable service providers to verify that DLNA clients are certified to CVP-2, while the client can also verify that a server is CVP-2 based. This process uses the DTCP-IP keys and HTTPS (HTTP over TLS 1.2), as used by today’s web browsers. The server authentication is optional.

On top of all this, the CVP-2 Guidelines support diagnostics, networked device power saving features, HTTP adaptive delivery in the form of MPEG-DASH (so client devices can select the best viewing option from a server, based on network conditions) and signaling for ad insertion. They also support 3D media formats.

Service providers can introduce a simple set of diagnostics that are used to diagnose device or service related problems within the home network, with results communicated to the DLNA devices. This is based on technologies like UPnP Basic Device Management service. To support power saving, CVP-2 enables end points to sleep and indicate how they should be woken up from sleep mode, and for the control point to wake these devices on-demand and request the clients to remain on for a certain period of time.

According to Joerg Eggink, Product Director at ACCESS and a Senior Representative for DLNA, interoperability between CE devices, consistent user experience across different screens and security mechanisms that are trusted by the studios, as provided by CVP-2, are all required for media sharing to really take off. “DLNA already provides the interoperability that the CE device industry demands. The DLNA CVP-2 Guidelines now adds the trusted framework that the content business requires.”

He expects the CVP-2 Guidelines to underpin new business models. “We are already seeing very high levels of interest from our broadcast and CE device customers,” he points out.
Other DLNA members like Allegro Software, Myriad and Videon have all declared their support for CVP-2.  So too has AwoX, which thinks the big value-add is the avoidance of extra set-top boxes for service providers as they distribute their content further. At International CES in January AwoX was showing its AwoX Striim Server and Client software development kits, supporting CVP-2. AwoX SDKs are available for set-top boxes, TVs and mobile platforms.

As we reported previously, ARM, ACCESS, Broadcom and JetHead Development were all showing CVP-2 demonstrations at International CES, too. JetHead was showing the Cox Trio-web CVP-2 server application connecting to the JetHead CVP-2 client software running on a set-top box. JetHead will be offering the market an easily portable CVP-2 stack, targeting set-top boxes, Smart TVs and game consoles.

Alcatel-Lucent is another DLNA member backing the new guidelines. The company is convinced that eventually operators will migrate the DLNA server function into the network so that client devices can stream content from sources within the CDN cloud (you can read more about how the CDN could be treated as another DLNA server, and how DLNA could be used to manage resources between home servers, broadcast networks and CDNs, here).

Scott Lofgren, Chairman and President of DLNA, concludes: “The availability of devices certified to the CVP-2 Guidelines will enable more consumers to view subscription TV content on more screens, all the while maintaining the full subscriber experience and user interface.”

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