Introducing CloudTV™ StreamCast: Enabling Operators to deliver Online Video Content to 1 billion STBs

Sachin Sathaye

For pay-TV, the weather report for video services is far from sunny. There’s the increasing popularity of services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and YouTube, the ability to find desired content outside of pay-TV bundles and the ability to stream that content to large-screen televisions – all of which have contributed to a 28% jump in TV viewing through streaming devices in just over a year.

 

But no dark cloud would be complete without a silver lining, and for pay-TV and their video counterparts it is this: The opportunity to reshape how video is delivered, including deals that would give online video access to more than 1 billion pay-TV set-top boxes worldwide and bring to pay-TV the sustainable differentiation of offering an infinite array of content.

 

To be sure, pay-TV already has inched its way closer to online video in recent years. Some operators have pursued alliances with complementary content that would create expanded offerings without cannibalizing core pay-TV video products. Others – such as Virgin Media, Com Hem and Waoo in Europe – are striking alliances that are delivering Netflix, YouTube and other experiences – but only to those consumers who can afford high-end devices such as TiVo.

 

We love the idea of bringing online video to STBs. However, we believe the optimal strategy is not to limit it to a few online video services or a few hundred thousand subscribers, but rather to bring ALL online video content to EVERY STB worldwide. We’ll leave it up to the pay-TV and online video providers to address the business issues, but here’s our two cents: a key to success is implementing solutions that solve significant technological hurdles, most notably:

  • Content Experience -- The need to maintain online providers’ full content and user experiences within pay-TV environments requires substantial investment in time and resources to write user interfaces and integrate with existing systems; even then, many existing STBs are incapable of supporting online video experiences of any type.
  • Content Protection – Cable and IPTV STBs protect their content using conditional access systems, while online video providers use digital rights management solutions such as PlayReady and Widevine. In addition, most IPTV STBs do not support multi-DRM capabilities.
  • Content Delivery – Online video uses adaptive bitrate streaming protocols, which are simply incompatible with the MPEG-2 and H.264 formats that are required by the vast majority of existing pay-TV and IPTV STBs.

 

To address these issues, we’re launching a new product – CloudTV™ StreamCast – that breaks new ground by bringing full, online video experiences to every pay-TV STBs – not by rolling out costly new next-generation devices, but by executing all of the core functionalities in the cloud. Using CloudTV StreamCast, both the online provider’s existing user interface and the protected content are stitched into a single MPEG2 or H.264 video stream that is delivered over the pay-TV provider’s managed network to every STB, cable or IP.

 

CloudTV StreamCast builds on top of the core capabilities of the CloudTV™ H5 software platform, using new components that have been specifically designed to take the potholes out of delivering online video to every STB. These include:

  • A DRM Bridge that bridges DRM-protected online video content to pay-TV providers’ conditional access systems or IPTV STB DRM;
  • A Media Bridge that converts video content from online formats to the MPEG2/ H.264 formats required by pay-TV networks; and
  • New features that support real-time transcoding and efficient delivery of overlays needed to bring online video content and the user interface to every STB.

 

Delivery of full online video experiences to every STB opens the door to a wealth of opportunities for pay-TV and online video providers, most notably:

  • Pay-TV providers can offer infinite libraries of Web content, as well as advanced search, discovery and recommendations across live, on-demand and online video.
  • Online video providers can rapidly deploy content to entire footprints of pay-TV subscribers, without being dependent on the rollout of new STBs or the purchase of streaming devices by consumers.
  • Pay-TV and online providers can bring existing online video user interfaces to every STB, eliminating the cost of device-specific application development and providing a consistent branded user experience.
  • Pay-TV providers who maintain their legacy VOD platforms for limited content libraries can leverage IP CDN infrastructures from online video providers and eventually migrate to IP CDN platforms.

 

While the immediate forecast is unsettled for pay-TV video services, we believe the long-term predictions can be far brighter. Using CloudTV StreamCast, pay-TV and online providers can create partnerships that drive the audience reach and content expansion needed to build lasting and profitable relationships.

 

For more information, please download our CloudTV StreamCast White Paper.