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Q&A: Simone Sassoli, RGB Networks

RGB _NEW logoSimone Sassoli, vice-president, marketing and business development, RGB Networks, talks to DTVE about the challenges of multiscreen TV.


Simone Sassoli-RGB main picHow significant are the challenges facing operators looking to deliver multiscreen TV services to tablets, smartphones and other devices as well as to TVs?

When an industry makes a paradigm shift, the challenges are always significant. However we are far enough along now in our transition to multiscreen IP video delivery that most of the technical issues have been worked out. Based on lessons learned from early trials and deployments, we are now deploying second generation technologies that enable video service providers (VSPs) to easily and efficiently deliver video services beyond the television.

We are also now addressing the next challenge – monetization – which will allow VSPs to develop a sustainable business model for multiscreen that will bring in new revenues, keep subscribers engaged, and help them to stay ahead of a new generation of competitors.

What do operators need to put in place to be able to deliver multiscreen services economically, with the ability to meet demand for services as it grows?

Scalability is the key to ensuring the most economical deployment of multiscreen services, both now and in the future. Most deployments start out with limited trials. Once comfortable with the model, the service providers often need to scale up quickly to meet demand as subscribers gain interest. However, if the trial utilized low density transcoders only suitable for a small number of channels and subscribers, the VSP quickly finds that growing the service is very costly and creates a number of operational headaches. VSPs should plan their deployments to scale from the beginning, giving them a head-start once the service goes mainstream and additional resources are needed to meet demand.

The key factors for easy scalability are density, flexibility and modularity, allowing the operator to easily install a single chassis and add capacity through easy license-based upgrades as demand dictates. This pay-as-you grow model keeps costs in check while allowing for easy expansion of services. It also reduces operational challenges and expenses.

To what extent could the standards-based approach to adaptive bit-rate streaming offered by MPEG DASH solve some the challenges faced by video service providers?

The promise of standardizing on a single protocol is great, however the reality is a little more complicated. DASH actually has more than a single version, so even once adopted, we will still have multiple standards to contend with. To ensure compatibility with all devices, now and in the future, VSPs need to choose flexible adaptive streaming solutions that can accommodate multiple protocols. To even more effectively meet the challenges of multiple standards and versions, they should consider deploying just-in-time packaging (JITP) technology. By packaging video on the fly, JITP technology eliminates the need for storing files in every format for on-demand applications, eliminating significant storage costs and allowing for cost-effective deployment of nDVR services, which are very popular with subscribers.

What are the various ways operators are looking to monetise multiscreen services and what solutions could enable them to do this?

Local ad insertion, targeting a region or neighborhood, has been a proven money-maker for U.S. operators for many years. Now, due to the unicast nature of the IP video delivery environment, hyper-targeting of ads can finally be accomplished, giving operators worldwide the long-promised benefits of personalized advertising. VSPs should look for an ABR ad insertion solution that will easily integrate with their IP-based video processing ecosystem, as well as a partner who has an understanding of ad insertion protocols, stream conditioning and emerging standards. With proven components in place, VSPs can deploy a powerful monetization platform.

Another potential source of revenue comes from nDVR services. The key to streamlined delivery of time-shifted services in the multiscreen environment is efficient packaging of streams into all of the required formats, spanning a number of standards. With just-in-time packaging, operators can record, manage and then distribute content only when the subscriber requests it, streamlining the entire nDVR architecture.

Most early deployments have started with on-demand multiscreen offerings. What’s driving the current shift to the delivery of live linear channels to mobile devices?

The initial focus on on-demand multiscreen delivery was driven by both content rights and technology. Today, as VSPs and content owners are finally working out deals for live multiscreen delivery, the technology is in place to meet the need.

To support real-time delivery of a growing number of live channels to thousands, or possibly millions of subscribers, operators require a robust solution that can scale to meet demand without compromising on video quality.

Next-generation transcoding technology brings the density, scalability, flexibility and reliability required for delivery of an operator’s full channel line-up. Through modular hardware design and the use of purpose-built processing technology, operators can realize tremendous cost savings through reduction of power, space and management headaches, without compromising on VQ. With this key next-generation component in place, VSPs can add the live viewing on any device that subscribers are coming to expect as a necessary complement to their on-demand viewing. It also provides traditional pay-TV operators with a key differentiator from their purely over-the-top competitors.

What is RGB Networks planning to highlight at this year’s IBC show?

The upcoming IBC show in Amsterdam will give us the opportunity to highlight our ‘Multiscreen 2.0’ solutions. Having worked with many of the top operators around the globe on trials and deployments, RGB has applied the lessons learned to our next-generation offering, which includes the following three critical components for taking multiscreen deployments to the next phase:

•    VMG Gen 2 – RGB’s ultra-high-density transcoding platform processes 1000+ streams per chassis without compromising on video quality
•    JITP – RGB’s pioneering just-in-time packaging technology streamlines architectures and enable cost-efficient VOD and nDVR service delivery
•    AIM – RGB’s integrated ABR ad insertion system generates new revenues through hyper-targeted advertising
Many operators have already recognized that value that a scalable, next-generation solution can bring. We’ve had the pleasure of replacing first-generation deployments with our Multiscreen 2.0 technology and we look forward to continuing the trend!

We encourage all service providers attending IBC to stop by stand #4.B70 to talk with us and learn how RGB’s Multiscreen 2.0 solutions can take their IP video deployment to the next level.

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