At EBU BroadThinking 2016, we conscientized that producing a modern multiscreen video experience isn’t just about embracing the most mature emerging technologies, year after year, in a smooth granular evolution. Nowadays it actually requires mastering a lot of expertise that are less and less native to broadcasters, all kinds of high-end activities like big data analysis, complex IT/network deployments, fine-grain ABR heuristics mastering, panoramic video, user behavior analysis, security policies enforcement or cloud applications development [and a lot more].
This year the EBU BroadThinking Conference was sounding like a holistic swirl, a milestone in the trend of technology to define sets that are greater than the sum of their parts, through creative evolution. « Where Broadcast Meets BroadBand », you get some interesting fusion effect occurring and diluting the traditional boundaries of the screens, with the handheld devices being part of the big screen experience or extending it rather than trying to scalp it, in an environment where all the devices converge towards a restricted set of standards rather than tracing their own line.
4K streaming, mobile broadcasting for the crowd, generalized delinearization, worldwide video events… #ott delivery is just multiplying the challenges, as customers’ expectations are raising each day in terms of video fast-start, instant channel switching, lack of buffer and high frame size/rate – on all devices in all network conditions. To answer those challenges, OTT delivery answer today is basically more unicast sessions, more servers, more peering – and less and less guarantee of satisfying end-user experience as long as there is no specific end-to-end paid agreement to guarantee that the path will be provisioned from the origin server up to the video device. Even in this ideal scheme, the device might still suffer from poor wireless conditions which jeopardize the experience. So, how do we deal with all this stack of potential problems: do we stick to the aging receipts, rely blindly on Moore’s law and perpetuate a hopeless #cdn weapons race? Or do we try to find smarter ways to make the OTT growth reach a sustainable delivery model ?
Today many content providers must change of OTT platform after the first implementation of their service (or even before first deployment) because it’s a dead end : either the platform is deceptive in terms of overall features coverage or missing sub-features, or it doesn’t evolve quickly enough compared to the competitive pressure of premium OTT markets. And we can’t really blame the content providers for this, as it’s always a very difficult decision to take when you have to choose your OTT platform service/solution provider: you are pressured by the competition and you need a fast time-to-market, and in the same time you would like to ensure long-term platform evolution capacity and technical control on it. Usually you end up with the solution offering the quickest time-to-market – or pretending so. You also end up with feature zones unfinished or finally covered with the help a third party solution – thus clearly challenging the idea of decent one-stop-shop OTT platform provider…
Nothing was more welcome after day 1 of EBU BroadThinking 2013 than a good night of sleep, in order to reset the tech hype counters and make some mental room for two new sessions on broadcasters’ CDNs and the latest advances of #hybrid platforms. What would be the best broadcasters’ CDN architectures today, what would be their smartest (green) evolutions, would CDN-Federation standards finally bring interop reality over hopes, what would be the most advanced deployments and future of HbbTV, how it compares with YouView in the UK : day 2 agenda was looking quite attractive – and indeed the presentations were packed with valuable informations and experience feedbacks.
Geneva in late March doesn’t feel as wild as a Las Vegas boulevard, but still there was a reasonable amount of gaming excitement at the EBU headquarters, where several events were following each other, beginning with a #dash Interoperability Forum meeting which was closely followed by the BroadThinking event, where industry actors and broadcasters come to show off their latest implementations advances and/or share the results of their real-life deployments or research studies. A good way of managing the transition between TV Connect and NAB…
Where Broadcast meets Broadband : that’s the promise of the EBU’s hybrid event which flies between industry competition, standardization efforts and broadcasters’ realpolitik – all wrapped in a warm and funny ambiance provided by the various speakers and the EBU team. The 2013 edition was a major success because it allowed the participants to get a rather good idea of the general trends of the industry, and at the same time to go deep in technology when needed, while having opportunities to discover edge tech demos on the lobby attending the conference room.