Families used to gather around the TV to watch Dad’s Army in the 70s. Now commuters can watch the latest Netflix Originals on the move. While TV viewing platforms and settings have changed, one thing that hasn’t is audiences’ expectations of the best available viewing experience.
In addition to consumer demand, TV service providers also want to deliver more to rise above the competition. They want to distribute programming at the highest quality on services that are becoming increasingly personalised. But to stay ahead of the curve in this way they need a delivery infrastructure that lets them easily add new functionality as they need it.
Learning from the IT crowd
To create an easily customisable delivery workflow, TV service providers have looked towards the IT industry, taking notes on how to replace monolithic hardware with software. Most recently, they’ve been taking pointers on how to shift entire workflows into the cloud.
Using software – cloud-based or otherwise – instead of hardware to execute certain functions is key to creating a delivery workflow that can be changed as needed. Rolling out said software can be done using virtual machines (VMs) or software containers. VMs aren’t commonly the preferred option when users need a workflow that’s easily updated because of the architecture’s need for a hypervisor layer that requires its own operating system.
Containing the solution
One of the benefits of using containerized software for TV delivery, however, is that single functions are contained in a package that has everything it needs for deployment. The architecture of contained software – how it sits on top of a container manager and shares an underlying operating system – is much better suited to TV service providers who need to make sure they have the ability to add and enhance functionality as needed.
Containerized software also allows TV service providers to easily expand the abilities and grow the capacities and reach of their delivery platforms without having to put in place another VM for each new application. Enhancing delivery workflows while minimising disruption to services is crucial for any service providers who have subscribers that expect to be able to access services whenever they want them.
Rolling out containerized software in the cloud also lets those TV service providers choose their preferred cloud services, rather than needing to move the entire workflow to a new provider.
Containerized software also requires fewer resources for deployment and reduces overall costs compared to deploying functionality using a virtual machine. That means VMs lock TV service providers into operating a delivery infrastructure until they replace larger elements of the workflow.
Catering for the next-generation
Containerized software essentially lets content distributors constantly mix and match elements in their workflows to tailor services for their audiences. For example, a public-service broadcaster won’t need the ability to insert adverts, but a Pay TV provider can open up new revenue streams with the sale of personalized ads. Certain services are already expected to deliver UHD content and should protect it using anti-piracy watermarking, while many won’t need to do the same for years. Requirements constantly change because of audience demand and a containerized software solution lets companies enhance workflows to meet that demand.
Containerized software creates a delivery workflow that TV service providers can use to deliver a customised workflow, going beyond what’s possible with traditional broadcast for future generations of viewers. It lets broadcasters provide enriched services even before audiences demand it.