The Broad Picture: Recording video content on the cloud
January 10, 2017
CLOUD PVR AND OTHER APPLICATIONS
The application that consists in recording live channels in the cloud, storing the videos and streaming them on-demand to each end-user, also widely known as cloud DVR, has been a very hot and discussed topic recently.
One can easily understand why by looking at the list of cloud PVR benefits compared to the traditional approach based on the storage of recorded content on local devices.
The benefits for end-users are the following:
- Multiple recordings: Users can launch any number of recordings on various channels simultaneously, without any constraint on the available bandwidth or number of tuners on their reception device.
- Flexible quota: The quantity of storage available is not limited to the one bought at the time of the STB. Storage can be increased by the operator, as needed.
- Reliability: The content remains available in the cloud, despite what happens to the reception device.
- Multi-STB and multiscreen availability: The recorded content can be made available on all of a subscriber’s devices.
Service operators also benefit from the cloud PVR approach on several aspects:
- Hard drive cost savings: There is no need to deploy PVR STBs with a storage space that is not always used.
- Support cost savings: Disks in a STB are an important point of failure. With the cloud approach, calls to support center and
replacement requests are reduced.
- Reduced churn: Customers that have recorded all their content in your network are less willing to switch to a new operator.
- New business models: Storage space in the cloud can be charged in various ways (e.g., global fee per month, price per channel or bouquet, storage quotas, etc.).
- Targeted ads: They can be inserted in the network for pre-roll or mid-roll scenarios, and they can be personalized per user.
Private/shared copy and the law
Despite the fact that recording live content onto a physical DVR in the end-user household is not very different from recording it via a service provided in the cloud, and that there is an obvious economical advantage of doing it in the cloud, service operators have been reluctant to roll out cloud DVR due to the copyright laws.
The main issue has to do with the type of copy, i.e. shared vs private copy.
Shared copy model is largely supported when it comes to EPG-based recording use case. Some countries legally allow the shared copy model, but operators need an advanced shared copy model to be able to offer a service ith time-based and impulsive recording.
In a private copy model, each end-user recording request leads to a true recording on the system. The limitations (amount of bandwidth, amount of storage, load on the backbone, etc…) of this model can be real obstacles for operators wanting to roll out cloud PVR. However, due to different interpretations of laws or agreements in place with content providers, several optimizations of the pure private copy model can be proposed to overcome he main limitations of the traditional private copy model.
Technically, cloud PVR is usually performed relying on 2 traditional recording methods.
DVR window mode recording: This method is based on a DVR window on the origin server. For each live channel, the origin server manages a circular buffer where the channel is continuously recorded.
Asset mode recording: This method is based on a record request sent by a third-party component, usually the service platform or the CMS. When receiving this request, the origin server records the corresponding channel using the begin and end time information provided by the service platform. The live program is recorded in a dedicated file.
Both methods have limitations. This is why we came to a hybrid method combining the 2 recording modes, enabling a growing buffer of recorded content.
The main advantages of the solution are the following:
- As long as the cloud-PVR content is in the DVR window, it is possible to update the begin date and the end date of the recording.
- Enable advanced shared copy model for time-based and impulsive cloud PVR thanks to its ability to store the same piece of content only once, even if multiple users want to record it.
Broadpeak has developed and deployed solutions for IPTV and OTT cloud PVR services relying on innovative recording methods to bring as many benefits as possible to both operators and their subscribers while answering the issues mentioned above.