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Satellite can join the multiscreen party, boosting revenues with streaming services in shopping malls and cafes

Viacom will welcome Pluto TV's young and gender-balanced audience as part of its offer to advertisers. Photo: iStock/oneinchpunch
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A new White Paper makes a compelling case for how multicast ABR (M-ABR) opens the way for satellite operators to finally join the multiscreen party. It notes how satellite broadcasting has been tied to set-top boxes in an age when an increasing amount of viewing is on mobile devices, and how the industry is faced with slowly declining video revenue (for various reasons). The authors, Neotion and Broadpeak, reckon M-ABR is the basis for new revenue-generating services like the provision of multichannel linear streaming video into shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, petrol stations, cruise ships, ferries and planes.

The White Paper is called ‘Satellite in OTT wonderland’ and it seeks to show how the ubiquity of satellite means this distribution platform is well suited to mobile viewing trends. People have not stopped watching linear TV but are watching it on new devices, and satellite operators must ensure they can reach them on those tablets and smartphones.

This is where Neotion and Broadpeak come in, providing an integrated technology solution that allows linear TV channels to be multicast over satellite IP bandwidth, then converted back to unicast by a receiver, then streamed to multiscreen devices. The portable viewing devices and their apps/players receive a standard unicast stream, so do not have to be changed in any way.

Broadpeak provides what it calls ‘transcasting’ technology in the headend (changing unicast streams into multicast) and a software agent for receive devices (for turning multicast back to unicast). TV channels can be assigned to multicast or can be moved to multicast transmission as the number of viewers (requesting unicast streams) grows.

Neotion supplies a device called the ‘OTTspot’ which effectively acts as a Wi-Fi hub/streamer. This contains the Broadpeak software. OTTspot ensures full DRM compliance and service provider control over all streaming. It can feed ‘tens of devices’ from this single access point.

The White Paper outlines a range of new distribution opportunities for satellite multiscreen, like serving people who are in public spaces such as bars, coffee shops, restaurants, medical centres and petrol stations. The Russian DTH provider Tricolor TV is already using the technology to create a new B2B2C sales opportunity by addressing the mobile entertainment needs of consumers in such places.

Why do you need satellite if these buildings are in an area with fixed broadband? For the service provider, who is offering a bundle of TV services, you can cut bandwidth/CDN costs associated with unicasting. The White Paper estimates that if you serve 900 people per month and they are watching an average of four hours a day, you reach the tipping point when satellite multicasting is more cost-effective than terrestrial broadband unicasting (based on 2Mpbs channels and ‘aggressive’ broadband pricing at 0.02 USD/Gb and ‘conservative’ satellite pricing of $1,000 USD/Mbps/month).

The paper also argues that satellite multicasting is the way to handle concurrency in public spaces where there is high demand for terrestrial bandwidth. The authors suggest that satellite multicasting could be used as part of a hybrid solution for serving public spaces, providing the additional bandwidth needed when demand rises beyond a base level that can be accommodated over fixed broadband at an acceptable QoE and cost-point.

The key point about multicasting, like broadcasting, is that the cost of delivering a TV channel remains the same no matter how many viewers it attracts.

There is also a market for satellite-enabled multiscreen streaming that has no fixed broadband competition – travel. Consumers on aeroplanes, cruise ships, ferries, trains and buses are potentially captive audiences looking for something to watch. Satellite ubiquity plays well in this market. Another opportunity is identified in parts of emerging markets where fixed broadband is poor, smartphones are popular and mobile data is expensive.

The Neotion/Broadpeak M-ABR solution can be used for push-VOD as well as linear delivery. The White Paper suggests it can also be used to pre-position ads (into some devices) for pre-roll ad insertion into streaming content.

The two vendor-authors believe M-ABR enables satellite operators to fight against the decline of video revenues. The ‘NSR Global Satellite Capacity Supply and Demand’ report (14th Edition) estimates that video currently accounts for 61% of total satellite capacity revenues, but forecasts a decline of 1% per year for the next 10 years.

The White Paper declares that the satellite industry has long feared the transition towards connected devices, because it could not reach them. Now it can, and operators can also monetize them, according to the authors.

You can read the White Paper here.

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