The future of IPTV
The growth of over-the-top services has been the most remarkable trend in the video streaming landscape in the last few years. Content providers have used this approach to gain direct access to their viewers without having to rely on contracts with network operators, thanks to a delivery scheme based on standard HTTP implementation.
The use of OTT video technologies (mainly MPEG-DASH and HLS) brings several key benefits to end-users:
- Access to live and on-demand content on all screens, including smartphones, tablets, PCs and connected TVs.
- “Follow me TV” types of applications where end-users can request recorded content on one device and watch it on another, or start watching on a new device from the very same point where they had left off on the previous one.
- Gain continuous access to video services thanks to the adaptive characteristic of streaming formats used for OTT delivery. When the bandwidth capacity of the access network varies, the quality of the video adapts to the streaming resources without leading to a service interruption. The eligibility to the service is therefore enhanced.
Operators have then exploited these technologies to launch their own video services, bringing their customers the same benefits. Even if the content is delivered on their network, the usage of HTTP adaptive bitrate streaming allows the services to be qualified as OTT.
These services complement operators’ legacy IPTV or cable TV services for the delivery of live and on-demand content to TV sets via set-top boxes.
Why has OTT video delivery not replaced IPTV?
IPTV relies on MPEG-2 Transport Stream (TS) delivery, which offers two major benefits compared with HTTP for the delivery of live TV channels:
- Scalability, through the usage of multicast technology instead of unicast. With multicast, a live channel always has the same footprint on the network, no matter how many people are watching it. Hence, audience peaks are handled easily, without impacting the quality of the service.
- Latency, since no heavy buffering is required in the player. While HTTP video delivery is bursty, based on a “best-effort” protocol, transport stream based delivery is smooth, ensuring continuous and regulated access to content without risks of famine.
In addition, using a managed network allows operators to guarantee a good and constant quality of service to viewers.
So, what is IPTV DASH?
In an ideal situation, the benefits of OTT and TS video delivery should be brought together. And this is precisely what IPTV DASH is about. Through the implementation of multicast ABR in MPEG-DASH (or HLS) format, operators can benefit from the greater flexibility offered by OTT combined with the scalability and low latency at stake with IPTV.
To summarize, IPTV DASH is the same as traditional IPTV TS but with DASH replacing the good old TS video structure with a more flexible and adaptive technology.
A convergent approach not only brings benefits to end-users, but also to operators:
- One single system is deployed to serve all applications, including live and catch-up/VOD content, set-top boxes and mobile devices, which means significant savings on operation costs.
- The same player can be used, whether the video is viewed on mobile devices or on the TV. Furthermore, the same DRM is used for all devices, meaning there is no need to have an expensive and dedicated CAS on the set-top box.
- The resources are optimized through the allocation of multicast delivery to popular content while unicast is used for lower popularity and on-demand content.
Broadpeak has been a pioneer in the multicast ABR field through the development, integration, and deployment of its nanoCDNTM solution.
What role does Android TV play in this?
Android TV has become extremely popular in the world of video reception. The OS has already been selected by over 100 TV operators around the globe, and most set-top box manufacturers have at least one model in their catalog that is delivered via Android TV.
The main objective of Android TV is to bring all the benefits of the internet to the TV environment, including a more personalized experience (i.e., on-demand content, catch-up TV, start-over, VOD), innovation (i.e., voice control), openness and flexibility, with thousands of applications, imagined and developed throughout the community, that can simply be added to the set-top box.
Combined with nanoCDNTM, Android TV is a great initiative to merge the worlds of traditional TV and connected devices. nanoCDN is available as a simple Android app, which can be installed in seconds on any STB. It allows video content reception, live channels in particular, in OTT format but embedded into a multicast stream.
IPTV DASH, leveraging nanoCDN and Android TV frameworks, is the path to take for operators wanting to deploy a future-proof video delivery solution.