Home Opinions The key to improving live broadcast experiences: synchronizing OTT and satellite

The key to improving live broadcast experiences: synchronizing OTT and satellite

Markus Placho, Vice President of Product, SES Video
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More and more, consumers today are watching premium live events on multiple screens via satellite and OTT channels. In fact, live streaming is expected to grow at a CAGR of 73% by 2022. While live events are an opportunity for monetization, they also represent a challenge for broadcasters. Even a few seconds of delay between different screens can spoil the live event experience.

Sports fans watching a match on an OTT platform can still experience delays today, sometimes to the detriment of their experience. During an important goal they might hear a crowd at the bar down the street cheering before they even see the ball go into the net, and the disappointment in such situations is intense. The same is true for a customer trying to dial into a shopping channel’s live show when watching the show via OTT. This was not possible so far because of the latency between the OTT service and the live broadcast via satellite. To solve these challenges for live TV, broadcasters need a solution that processes video at the source for satellite and OTT distribution.


Why Low Latency is Imperative for Live TV

Today, sports fans watching a live match over the internet are used to experiencing a latency delay of 40 seconds or more.  In densely packed cities, where apartments are side by side, any amount of latency between the OTT and satellite feeds is a problem. Latency is disruptive to an OTT viewer’s experience, especially if they are close to a viewer watching satellite television.

Whether viewers are watching a sports match on satellite TV, OTT TV or OTT mobile, they want to be able to enjoy a goal scored simultaneously across distribution formats. It’s also important to consider that many television viewers are simultaneously watching content in the highest HD/UHD quality on their large screens, while using a tablet or a phone to track alternate views and get additional information. Having the two feeds in sync enables a converged immersive viewing experience.


How to Close the Latency Gap

There are a range of solutions on the market today that address the latency of OTT itself, but they fail to tackle the issue of latency between OTT and other distribution sources, such as satellite. 

The ideal way to solve this problem is by ensuring that OTT and satellite feeds are in sync. Only then can broadcasters have the confidence that their viewers will be able to enjoy unforgettable moments during live events and a more immersive viewing experience.

SES specifically can tackle this problem by taking the signal at its source and simultaneously distributing it via satellite and IP, allowing broadcasters to eliminate the latency that currently exists between the different distribution methods. The solution involves managing the video stream at the point that the feed accesses the satellite, as well as processing the signal on the OTT side using the latest MPEG-CMAF encoding standard and then distributing it across carefully chosen content delivery networks (CDNs) that contribute toward minimizing latency.


Applicable Use Cases

There are a variety of different applications where synchronizing OTT and satellite can be applied most effectively. These include live sports events, live shopping channels, and live reality TV competitions.

Perhaps the most critical use case is live sports. A rising number of major sporting events available via streaming services is set to drive the revenue for global broadcast rights beyond $85 billion by the end of 2024, according to a recent report from Rethink TV. If broadcasters want to capitalize on the revenue that is up for grabs for live TV sports, they need to ensure they’re delivering the best viewing experience to end users on every screen. Television viewers, whether they are watching a soccer game on the main screen TV via satellite or an OTT service on their smartphone want to share the experience of seeing a goal and be united in their victory celebration.

Shopping channels is another business area that can benefit from synchronizing live OTT and satellite. Retail channels regularly use live countdowns of product availability and studio calls. OTT streaming has a higher delay than satellite, which causes viewer frustration when they call in but find the call already closed. It’s also irritating to viewers when the product is sold out, even though their screen countdown still shows availability.

Live reality TV competitions with call-in situations, such as “American Idol,” will also find this technology solution advantageous. These shows can avoid situations where viewers call in to vote for their favorite contestant after the polls have already closed.


Conclusion

Today’s broadcasters are looking to protect and grow their business by delivering the best experience possible during live events, particularly for premium sports. Synchronizing OTT and satellite delivery of live events, broadcasters can deliver a unique, consistent, and satisfying end-user experience on any screen. The key to monetizing live events in today’s connected world: eliminating the delay between satellite and OTT services.


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