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Multicast ABR enables satellite to play a key role in the OTT world

Nivedita Nouvel, VP of Marketing, Broadpeak
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Global OTT video revenue will reach $129 billion by 2023, according to Digital TV Research. Clearly, OTT video delivery is gaining ground with consumers; however, technical challenges still exist for operators wanting to deliver video streaming services.

OTT uses unicast as its delivery mechanism. One of the primary issues with unicast delivery is scalability. Every video stream is transmitted individually, using up bandwidth. This problem will only get worse as services like live TV, 4K and VR become more commonly available on OTT subscription services. Another challenge with OTT delivery is Quality of Experience (QoE). The quality of video streaming services is not as good as broadcast. Buffering, latency, and zapping time are several issues impacting QoE. Video quality is also affected by scalability limitations.

This article will look at how operators can use broadcast to distribute OTT video and illustrate why satellite has an important role to play in the OTT environment. It will also focus on the benefits of satellite distribution for OTT and the new business opportunities available.


Using Satellite for OTT Distribution

For decades satellite has been a strong business. Not only is it reliable, it offers a global reach through a point-to-multipoint distribution approach. But the television industry is changing. Today’s consumers want to be able to access video on a wide range of devices, including smartphones and tablets. If the satellite industry wants to remain competitive, it needs to figure out a way to reach those screens.

ABR multicast technology offers an opportunity to merge both worlds by mixing together IP streaming with satellite broadcast. Under this scenario, a transcaster server on the headend side converts the unicast stream into multicast. The signal is then broadcast, taking advantage of satellite’s wide reach and using the same amount of bandwidth, no matter how many viewers there are. An embedded agent within reception devices (i.e., hotspots, set-top-boxes) receives the channels in multicast and converts them back into unicast, enabling OTT content to be distributed to connected devices without requiring any software changes in end-users devices. Thanks to ABR multicast technology, satellite can play a key role in the OTT environment and resolve scalability issues, enabling millions of simultaneous viewers to watch a video stream that is only transmitted one time.


Additional Benefits of Using Satellite for OTT

Latency is a significant issue in the OTT world. Since video streaming occurs over unmanaged networks, bandwidth is not guaranteed and players need to buffer large amounts of video to guarantee quality of experience. This buffering is the main cause for high latency, which is unacceptable for live news and sports events. Multicast ABR over satellite leverages reliable bandwidth resources, removing the need for large player buffers and reducing latency to the same level as traditional broadcast transmissions. Further improvements can also be made to latency thanks to usage of CMAF low latency and chunked transfer encoding, which allow video segments to be processed before they are fully received.

Another advantage of using multicast ABR is the possibility of deploying VOD pre-caching through satellite. With a local cache enabled, viewers can access popular UHD and 4K content that can be pre-cached locally, even when streaming bandwidth resources are limited.

Targeted advertising is another unique capability that operators can take advantage of using multicast ABR pre-cache feature. For local ad insertion, ads are pushed to local devices and stored there if they have the relevant tag related to the user profile. Since they are played in pre-roll mode after the user requests content, they do not consume extra network bandwidth. This is a great way for operators to boost their revenue.



Using multicast ABR technology, operators can deliver live streaming and VOD pre-cached content to subscribers leveraging the reach of satellite. Not only is this solution scalable, it reduces latency and allows operators to deliver higher quality resolutions than Internet service providers. With multicast ABR technology, operators can reduce bandwidth costs and take advantage of new revenue opportunities like targeted ad insertion.

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