Distribution convergence is a key solution for delivering video content across different platforms (i.e., viewers going from TV set to mobile device, etc.). This reduces cost and complexity, including the use of a single source for content delivery. It also allows for faster deployment and easy control of content on different screens.
However, while viewers seek video on every screen, broadcasters and cable TV providers grapple with the challenge of delivering video to meet all their needs. This is especially challenging as industry norms and user requirements keep changing, so whatever solution is used for distribution must be flexible enough to be able to evolve seamlessly and meet changing needs. So, how can you solve these issues, keep your viewers happy, attract new viewers, and increase your revenue?
How Distribution Convergence Works with Delivery Networks
Distribution convergence is the concept of sending a single video bitstream (native or VoD) to multiple platforms, such as set-top boxes (STBs) and mobile devices. It allows multiple delivery standards (e.g., DVB-I/DVB-SIS/DVB Native IP/4G ̵ 5G) to be integrated into the same infrastructure. In turn, this provides subscribers with a single-service portal, while allowing operators to expand their reach and improve margins.
Distribution convergence can be considered for all layers of the distribution systems, from the physical to the application layer.
Let’s consider four Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) standards that enable this convergence while bringing new revenue potential to broadcasters:
- DVB-I: a standard that enables a seamless, “broadcast-like” experience for both OTT and broadcast channels on a TV, and a broadcast-like experience on a mobile phone or tablet. With a single content guide, viewers can effortlessly switch channels between linear and non-linear content. And doing so without even realizing they are moving from broadcast to OTT or vice-versa. DVB-I is a network-agnostic service-discovery mechanism. Services can be transported over satellite, terrestrial, and through managed or unmanaged networks. How DVB-I services should be delivered over 5G is in particular the topic of a joint work between DVB and 5G Media Action Group (5G-MAG).
- DVB-MABR: a standard that specifies how segment-based services such as DASH or HLS can be delivered over IP multicast. This is a key technology for the convergence of broadband and broadcast. Often considered as the next-gen IPTV, where operators shift from MPEG-2 TS to use the same headend for both live and on-demand/catch-up TV.
- DVB Native IP: a standard that enables native-IP distribution of audio-visual signals via satellite, leveraging DVB-I and DVB-MABR. This defines several layers of signaling that allow the discovery of the different IP streams and their origin (using multi-bitrate). It also defines transport and encapsulation. Two options are available. This first is a backward-compatible variant using Multi-Protocol Encapsulation (MPE), where it is possible to transport the IP stream within a legacy DVB-S2(x) MPEG-TS multiplex. The second is a more IP-optimized transport using Generic Stream Encapsulation (DVB-GSE).
- DVB-SIS: a standard that allows shared satellite capacity usage for Direct-to-Home (DTH) distribution and satellite feed to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) transmitters. DVB-SIS defines a way to carry metadata via satellite capacity to enable customized channel packages for specific regions, based on a single multiplex.
The challenge is that all these standards are relatively new and limited in terms of available devices and technical reach.
By nature, DVB-I defines a common platform similar to DTT. Accessing free-to-air DVB-I services does not require a specific application. And the TV manufacturer can control the experience of users discovering and exploring the DVB-I service lists. The emergence and adoption of DVB-I will strongly depend on regulation and on support by TV manufacturers.
Deployments of DVB-MABR as next-gen IPTV require a widespread rollout of home gateways and/or set-top boxes. Operators have to manage a significant transition period when IPTV and DVB-MABR coexist. The success of DVB-MABR will be greatly favored by full interoperability between vendors, which drives Ateme’s involvement in DVB.
DVB Native IP allows video to reach more people. While gateway availability is limited in terms of available devices, mobile phones and tablets are widely deployed. This is a big incentive to adopt the Native IP standard. In addition, Native IP is also the ideal satellite transport to deliver to 5G systems or OTT/IPTV delivery.
DVB-SIS requires a specific device that can accurately process the metadata, but it is limited to cases where there is a DTT network operating in parallel with DTH, where satellite feeds the transmitters. However, DVB-SIS could be an effective backup solution to maintain a strong DTT network via satellite. This would result in halving the distribution costs by eliminating the need for a dedicated DTT network — a clear advantage.
How do I Benefit?
Distribution convergence enables operators to reach new audiences and generate additional revenue, as well as optimizing network usage through hybrid services. But the benefits don’t end there, especially as far as DVB-I is concerned:
More options for viewers:
- Incumbent broadcasters can enrich their offering by adding customized digital channels from their existing web catalog to their current broadcast channels.
- Broadcasters can also offer various formats. These could be linear (broadcast or OTT) or nonlinear (playlist) for their channels. And they can define a priority. Viewers can then select the appropriate format they are able to access and support.
- During events, additional channels can be offered showing replays for a wide range of viewing experiences.
- While a popular channel is broadcast, it can be enriched with additional components available on unicast (e.g., audio tracks or subtitles in a wide range of languages).
- Regional programs can be added as a national package.
Reduced risk and investment for broadcasters:
- Broadcasters can test a new channel and then remove it if it is not successful or launch an occasional channel.
- Broadcasters can also optimize the delivery path without impairing their audiences. For instance, a channel that becomes less popular can continue in OTT. At the same time, the available space in the broadcast path is reallocated for another broadcast channel. The reverse is also possible.
- Broadcasters can benefit from additional monetization opportunities. In doing so, they offer continuity between broadcast TV and mobile experiences. Not only that, but they also maintain strong relationships with their viewers without making them jump through hurdles.
- When it comes to advertising, it’s also possible to split one channel into regional variants with regionalized or targeted ads via OTT. This feature can also be limited to a specific time window (e.g., prime time or Saturdays).
Reduced carbon emissions:
- Analytics throughout the delivery chain can highlight the environmental impact of using terrestrial or satellite broadcasting for major channels combined with broadband delivery for selected programs.
- Newcomers (OTT services) can also benefit from better visibility and reach a wider audience.
Ateme Can Help You Maximize the Benefits
Ateme provides broadcasters and cable TV providers with a powerful solution that enables viewers to watch high-quality original programming across all devices in new, interactive ways.
We can help you maximize the benefits of DVB-I/DVB-MABR standards. We do this with high-density OTT and broadcast encoders, more efficient streaming via combined CDNs and client analytics, targeted ads via manifest manipulation, and quick-start solutions to launch FAST channels. Furthermore, when combined with our converged headend, DVB-I/DVB-MABR can incorporate low-latency streaming with terrestrial statmux channels.
Our DAI solution can help you boost revenues with customized, targeted ads sent through digital channels added to the broadcast channel.
DVB-SIS helps optimize the transport of our DTT combined with our DTH packages.
Finally, Native-IP is combined with the convergence of the fragmented file format over satellite. With 5G Broadcast, satellite using DVB-NIP will complement the delivery solutions to reach more users without creating a specific mesh for 5G.
The distribution convergence of DVB-I/DVB-MABR/DVB Native-IP/DVB-SIS can help you reduce operational costs and get the greatest flexibility and scalability for your modern video content infrastructure. To find out more about how Ateme can help, get in touch. And make sure to check out our DVB-1 demo at Booth 5G18 at Mobile World Congress 2023!