Digital Trends Video Opinions • Whatever Happened to the HiFi Tower?

Graphic - Digital Trends Video Opinions (header #2, web)

End of an Era

When I was a teenager, the crowning achievement of audio enthusiasts was to proudly display their HiFi system to their friends. The living room centerpiece was a HiFi tower, built from what are called separates – units manufactured as 19 inch appliances with a brushed aluminum façade. This was the 70s, and the HiFi tower consisted of an amplifier, radio tuner, tape player, and a turntable that took top position in the penthouse suite. For the baby boomer with higher disposable incomes, the tower may also exhibit a pre-amp, and maybe even an equalizer for good measure. In the 1982 the audio industry added a CD player[1], and the world was introduced to digital sound. Then in 1995 the DVD[2] player joined the portfolio, and digital video moved into the mainstream.

We were proud of our appliances and displayed them as beautiful fixtures in our living rooms. But by the mid-90’s the audio industry began to change. The emergence of the World Wide Web[3] (www) started to affect our entertainment habits. The MP3[4] format, an audio coding format for digital audio, was standardized in 1993 and soon became a tool that disrupted the audio industry. It allowed consumers to save music onto their computers at a fraction of the size, compared to CDs. Then, Peer to Peer[5] (P2P) networking was popularized by the notorious Napster[6] service, launched in 1999 allowing everyone to share their MP3 music libraries – albeit illegally. Music may have turned digital with the CD, but it also morphed from a physical product to a virtual one. When collections moved to hard drives the CD player began to lose its luster. By the end of the 20th century the portable media player[7] using hard drives or flash drives, began to emerge.

It wasn’t just the audio and video input sources that evolved. By the first decade of 2000, the output changed as well. Active speakers began to eat into the market share of passive speakers, lessening the need for an amplifier. Much of this was driven by the computer industry, where speakers would connect directly to the PC. The cornerstone of the HiFi tower was in jeopardy. But the consumer electronics industry seemingly compensated. They continued to improve on the design of the Class D amplifier[8], which was more power efficient, dissipated less heat, and cheaper to produce, than their Class A to C[9] counterparts. They also began to support video inputs. With video, this appliance evolved into the Audio-Visual Receiver[10]. This may have extended the validity of the amplifier, but in the 2000’s the HiFi tower began to lose many of its floors.

The turntable almost disappeared once the CD began to reach critical mass. I trashed mine sometime around 1993. But vinyl[11] has had a resurgence of interest from die-hard fans that are convinced that records sounds better. My take on this passion is that vinyl enthusiasts are accustomed to the fidelity limitations that the media imposes on audio frequency and resolution. In fact, that ‘warm’ sound that is much loved, can be easily reproduced through digital filters (please, no nasty letters). Tape decks have long become occupants of landfill. I finally threw out mine out around 2005, even though I hadn’t used it for a decade. The graphic equalizer (or, more likely a parametric equalizer) may still be present in recording studios, but is predominantly a software feature in digital audio. In fact, today’s audio quality is so pristine that the consumer ‘want’ for an equalizer has virtually disappeared.

Most consumers can’t tell the difference between a 192kbps and a 320kbps MP3 track at 44.1KHz and 16bit resolution on a stereo channel[12]. Consider that Blu-Ray tracks can support up to 24.5Mbps, 96kHz, 24bit resolution on 7.1 channels. That’s 76 times more information delivered to your ears! The additional surround channels are apparent, but most consumers don’t hear the additional resolution. Regardless, the audio industry can’t stand still – it needs to evolve. As the video industry begins to standardize on 4K[13] UHD technology, audio giants such as DTS[14] and Dolby Laboratories[15] will need to step up their game and improve on their DTS-HD[16] and Dolby TrueHD[17] standards. Possibly Dolby Atmos[18] is the future, which currently supports up to 128 audio tracks and 64 speakers. But how this technology will fit into a home theater set-up remains an open question.

Black Boxes to Virtual Boxes

By 2006, the first Blu-Ray discs were released. It became a new floor in our tower. But many argue that it may be the last, in favor of internet streaming. Online video streaming services have had a negative effect on disc players. Consumers realized that access to a large library at a low monthly cost makes more sense than owning shelves of CDs, DVDs or Blu-Rays. Today’s internet has plenty of bandwidth to support video streaming. As long as subscribers can continue to easily access content through a cloud-based service, then there will be little desire for ownership.

Portfolio - Visual Unity, Digital Trends, What happened to the HiFi Tower (Some will thank computing for staged a coup d’état)

Has the 19″ appliance been replaced by software? The limitation of this audio black-box appliance is certainly apparent in today’s demanding multi-functional world. Today’s consumers expect some combination of Bluetooth, Wireline, WiFi, DLNA[20] connectivity, or Near Field Communication[21] (NFC) in their consumer electronics. For example, a disc player that can’t connect to the Internet has little value to a ‘Net savvy consumer. A console that doesn’t support multi-player gaming via the internet is boring.

Video, Audio, Communication is integral to today’s gamer. My kids connect to Skype and have group chats when playing DayZ[22], Minecraft[23], or World of Tanks[24]. They use LogMeIn Hamachi[25] to network their computers. They record their gaming experience with Camtasia Studio[26], and share it on their YouTube channel[27]. Many games aren’t even suitable for disc release. Assassins Creed Unity for example, is a 42GB download on Ubisoft’s Uplay[28]!

Millennial Entertainment

My audio-visual setup is quite unusual. I don’t have a living room in the traditional sense. My computer has evolved as the center of both my work and entertainment world. I sit two feet away when I need to type on the keyboard. Then move ten feet away to watch movies. My office is my living room, and visa-versa. I appreciate that this is not typical for the majority of households, but certainly some level of convergence is happening on a larger scale. TV’s are now Smart[29], and connected to the Internet. Computers, tablets and mobiles are being used to watch entertainment. Gaming consoles are used for social networking. Many consumers don’t realize that their Set-Top-Box[30] (STB) from their cable provider is a PC.

Where does that leave us? For starters, let’s accept that the beautiful HiFi tower, as we once knew it, has virtually disappeared. Millennials don’t even know what they look like. (Case in point: I mentioned to my 12 year old that I was writing a new article where I’ve mentioned him called, “Whatever Happened to the HiFi Tower?”, and the first thing he asked was, “What’s that?”). My tower was dismantled shortly before my kids were born. Even the receiver, once the cornerstone of my HiFi tower was shelved, in favor of active speakers.

Modern living rooms still have their appliances. Somewhere in the house is a WiFi router. The STB may sit beside a gaming console, and maybe a connected Blu-Ray player. A select few will have a media player, or a home theatre PC[31] (HTPC). But each one will have a different shape, size, and color. Nothing in this setup has the elegance of HiFi tower. Even though some manufacturers try to maintain the 19″ form factor, it doesn’t quite have the same ta’da’ enthusiasm from my youth. If a HiFi tower does exist, they are found in high-end home theatres, hidden behind walls, cabinets, or doors. A large number of living rooms need to also check the spouse-acceptance-factor[32] box. Only a privileged few are lucky to have their very own man cave[33].

Thanks for the Memories

Today’s digital society was elegantly summarized by Cory Bergman, from Lost Remote:

“Apps become the channels. Google and Apple
become the gateways, not the MVPDs. Screens become seamless.
DVRs become pointless. And the internet becomes the cable.”[34]

This touches on the sensitive topic of how the entertainment industry has succumbed to applications and the internet.

The excitement of the HiFi tower is now separated by a generation gap. For those that attended high school in the 70’s or 80’s, remember when you bought your first amplifier and the focal point of discussion with your buddies started at the back of the unit? The more connections the amplifier had the more beautiful it was. These days, showing all of your music and movies through the window of our computer monitor doesn’t quite have the same excitement as displaying hundreds of CD’s and DVD’s on a shelf beside a HiFi tower that is taller than a six year old. Such is progress. I may no longer re-live the enthusiasm of showing off my HiFi tower. But I’ll make that trade-off, if it means having my entertainment library accessible with only a few mouse clicks.

• Synopsis

Over the span of two decades entertainment has evolved from a physical to a virtual industry – From a black-box appliance, performing a specific task, to computing devices running applications that serve many functions. What happened to the prestige of the HiFi tower? Did it disappear and we didn’t even notice? This article explores how our world of entertainment has evolved, and what happened to that beautiful HiFi tower.

This article was originally published on redsharknews.com.

• About Gabriel Dusil

Gabriel Dusil was recently the Chief Marketing & Corporate Strategy Officer at Visual Unity with a mandate to advance the company’s portfolio into next generation solutions and expand the company’s global presence. Before joining Visual Unity, Gabriel was the VP of Sales & Marketing at Cognitive Security, and Director of Alliances at SecureWorks, responsible for partners in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). Previously, Gabriel worked at VeriSign & Motorola in a combination of senior marketing & sales roles. Gabriel obtained a degree in Engineering Physics from McMaster University in Canada and has advanced knowledge in Online Video Solutions, Cloud Computing, Security as a Service (SaaS), Identity & Access Management (IAM), and Managed Security Services (MSS).

• Tags

ŸGabriel Dusil, Smart TV, UHD, Ultra HD, Ultra High Definition, DTS-HD, Napster, Class D Amplifier, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Atmos, Digital Living Network Alliance, DLNA, Near Field Communication, NFC, DayZ, World of Tanks, Hamachi, Camtasia, UPlay, Wife acceptance factor, Spouse acceptance factor, P2P, Dusil.com

• Resources

[1] CD player, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_disc

[2] DVD, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVD

[3] World Wide Web, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Wide_Web

[4] MP3, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MP3

[5] P2P, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peer-to-peer

[6] Napster, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napster

[7] Portable media player, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portable_media_player

[8] Class D Amplifier, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Class-D_amplifier

[9] Amplifier, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amplifier

[10] Audio-Visual Receiver, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AV_receiver

[11] Vinyl, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinyl

[12] “Audiophiles: Can humans hear a difference between low bitrate and high bitrate MP3s?”, by Eric Dykstra, http://www.quora.com/Audiophiles/Can-humans-hear-a-difference-between-low-bitrate-and-high-bitrate-MP3s

[13] 4K, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4K_resolution

[14] DTS, http://listen.dts.com/

[15] Dolby Digital, http://www.dolby.com/us/en/index.html

[16] DTS-HD, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DTS-HD_Master_Audio

[17] Dolby TrueHD, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolby_TrueHD

[18] Dolby Digital Atmos, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolby_Atmos

[19] “Some will thank computing for staged a coup d’état on the entertainment industry. Others will blame the internet for killing it.”

[20] Digital Living Network Alliance, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Living_Network_Alliance

[21] Near Field Communication, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near_field_communication

[22] DayZ, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DayZ_%28video_game%29, http://dayzmod.com/

[23] Minecraft, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minecraft, https://minecraft.net/

[24] World of Tanks, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_of_Tanks, http://worldoftanks.com/

[25] LogMeIn Hamachi, Wikipedia, https://secure.logmein.com/products/hamachi/download.aspx

[26] Camtasia Studio, http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.html

[27] YouTube Channels, https://www.youtube.com/channels

[28] UPlay, http://uplay.ubi.com/

[29] Smart TV, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_TV

[30] Set-Top-Box, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Set-top_box

[31] Home theater PC, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_theater_PC

[32] Wife acceptance factor, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wife_acceptance_factor

[33] man cave, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_cave

[34] “How Chromecast fundamentally changed how my family watches TV”, By Cory Bergman, Lost Remote, 3 September 2013, http://lostremote.com/how-chromecast-fundamentally-changed-how-my-family-watches-tv_b38639

 

Digital Trends Video Opinions • Why Does My 4K Video Suck?

Graphic - Digital Trends Video Opinions (header #2, web)

I have a confession to make – I’m a high definition snob. I only watch movies in 1080p[1].  I could care less if a movie is available – shudder – in standard definition (SD). As far as I’m concerned, the movie doesn’t exist, until it’s in 1080p (excluding cinema releases, of course). Many friends think that I’m a hopeless geek to impose such ridiculous restrictions on a movie experience. For some colleagues it’s more important to watch the release as quickly as possible, then to worry about quality. Am I narrow minded? Is my quest to have a cinema experience overrated? Who even notices those compression artifacts[2], mosquito noise[3], or frame tearing[4], anyway?

When Blu-Ray first came out I recall friends telling me how they were disappointed by HD video. They couldn’t tell the difference from the DVD version. I anticipate the same response as we transition to Ultra HD[5] (UHD). History is destined to repeat itself as we venture into more pixels and bigger TVs.

Consumers face a perception verses reality battle regarding image quality. It’s all about how we perceive new technology. In other words, the eyes may see better quality, but the brain is not recognizing the higher resolution. I attribute this to any combination of factors. Anything along this supply chain from creation to consumption can adversely affect video quality:

Figure i – The 4K Video Supply Chain

Figure i – The 4K Video Supply Chain

  1. Creation • The cameras used in production may not have been the analogue equivalent of HD.  Possibly the lenses were poor quality or old film stock was used. Ÿ Maybe the content was filmed with digital cameras that did not have HD sensors.
  2. Source Ÿ• Maybe the source material wasn’t HD. Even if the content was broadcast on an HD channel, the content itself may have been SD and was unconverted[6] (i.e. up-scaled) to HD.
  3. Digitization • This is where film or video tapes are converted to a digital format. Possibly the source content was not digitized properly from the master film reels. For example, Super 16mm film has the grain resolution to achieve a 1080p analog to digital conversion[7].  A digital conversion service may have used SD (576p PAL or 480p NTSC) conversion on the film stock. •  Maybe a copy was digitized and the master (aka. mezzanine file[8]) wasn’t used at all.  Once the film is digitized then software is used to correct color, exposure, and audio/video synchronization. In addition, scratches, dust and film damage is digitally removed from each frame. For some Hollywood movies this takes months of effort. Some early Blu-Ray releases received bad reviews because the digital cleaning process resulted in complete removal of film grain – an aspect of movies that gives that venerable cinema feel. The digitization process has since improved to maintain the visual experience intended by the director.
  4. Encoding Ÿ• The source content may not have been encoded properly, resulting in a substandard video transfer. Typically the analog (film) to digital (file) conversion is uncompressed.Each HD frame scanned to a file would typically occupy  6.2MBytes[9]. Taking these frames and streaming them uncompressed at 23.976 fps (frames per second, typical for a Hollywood movie) would stream at 1.2 Gbps (gigabits per second). This is much too large for consumer devices, so the file needs to be compressed down to a reasonable file size. That’s where H.264[10] and the newer H.265[11] video compression standards come in. These codecs compress an HD movie down to a 4-6Mbps[12] when used in an internet streaming service.  That’s a reduction of 200:1!
  5. Transcoding • Once a video has been encoded, then it can be transcoded into other formats or bitrates. If a good quality master wasn’t used in this process, then the result is GIGO (garbage in garbage out). If the video was transcoded several times before it reaches the viewer, then image quality would have degraded at each transcoding step. In the early days of H.264 encoding, engineers were not versed in all the encoding intricacies, which resulted in a sub-optimal video outputs. This same learning curve is beginning again with H.265.
  6. ‘Supply • There are many intermediaries taking content from one provider and handing it over to another. This applies to both broadcast television as well as internet delivery. Hardware, software, and interconnections anywhere along this ‘supply chain’ can compromise the quality of the signal. Over the internet this involves any combination of routers, switches, firewalls, cabling, streaming or caching servers.
  7. ’Delivery • The delivery mechanism of the Internet, Over the Air[13] (OTA) broadcast, Cable, or Satellite, may have deteriorated the signal due to congestion, latency, dropped packets, interference, or lack of quality of service (QoS) contingencies. Don’t expect the same qualify from a streaming service, compared to Blu-Ray.  Streaming services use much lower bitrates when transferring HD quality (typically up to 4Mbps for 720p or 6Mbps for 1080p), whereas Blu-Ray will use well over 16Mbps.
  8. “Screen Ÿ• The consumer may not have a TV that is good enough to see the improved resolution of HD or 4K. TV’s with less than 30” diagonal were too small to showcase HD. Cathode ray tubes (CRTs) were a complete waste of time when showcasing HD. Likewise, it will be hard to see the advantages of 4K video when viewed on screens smaller than 42”, unless the viewer is sitting right in front of the screen. The distance of the viewer from the screen has an effect on video quality. The 2 foot computer experience can afford smaller pixels and screen, compared to TV’s 10 foot TV viewing. As the person sits farther from the screen then pixels begin to blend together, and the advantage of higher pixel densities are lost.
  9. ”Viewer • Maybe the audience member doesn’t have 20/20 vision?
  10. •Bias Ÿ• This is often overlooked when evaluating something new. There is an inherent bias of each viewer when experiencing something that they have never seen before. Did the person hope for the video to be better, before they saw it for the first time? Were they indifferent? Maybe they were part of a grumpy generation that could care less? Pre-established bias plays a role in how we react to new technology. Understanding these biases in advance helps to filter the opinion of others.

It’s as though all planets need to align before we can enjoy 4K video. This is certainly the case with many technological breakthroughs. Equipment, technologies and processes along the entire supply change needs to be upgraded to ensure an optimal viewing experience.

In the case of 4K, some people will simply not perceive the higher resolution – at least not initially. Even if the technology from source to viewer has the ability to showcase 4K, some won’t immediately see an improvement in quality. When I displayed Blu-ray content for the first time on my monitor, I couldn’t immediately see the benefits. My personal bias was to rant about how amazing the video was to my friends, because I wanted it to be better – but deep inside I was underwhelmed. It took me a few weeks of consistently watching HD before I acclimate to the resolution. As my brain started to adjust to the additional pixels, and sharper picture, it wasn’t until I looked back at standard definition that I realized how my perception had changed.

My 4K video doesn’t actually suck – mainly because I don’t have a 4K TV yet.  But I loved what I saw when 4K and UHD was showcased at a number of Media and Entertainment exhibitions these past two years[14]. That may have been my internal bias talking, of course.

Each generation has incrementally higher expectations on new technology. It’s funny to think that maybe my kids will one day say, “Dad, this 4K video sucks. Don’t you have the movie in 8K?”. The grumpy generation would be quick to react, “When I was your age…”.  In the meantime, I can’t wait to be a 2160p[15] snob.

• Synopsis

Is perception also reality for 4K video? Will you recognize 4K quality when you see it for the first time? What ultimately effects video quality, and how do we perceive these incremental improvements? This article explores the challenges that the industry faces in delivering 4K UHD video to the masses, and biases that consumers face when experiencing new technology.

• About Gabriel Dusil

Home - Signature, Gabriel Dusil ('12, shadow, teal)Gabriel Dusil was recently the Chief Marketing & Corporate Strategy Officer at Visual Unity with a mandate to advance the company’s portfolio into next generation solutions and expand the company’s global presence. Before joining Visual Unity, Gabriel was the VP of Sales & Marketing at Cognitive Security, and Director of Alliances at SecureWorks, responsible for partners in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). Previously, Gabriel worked at VeriSign & Motorola in a combination of senior marketing & sales roles. Gabriel obtained a degree in Engineering Physics from McMaster University in Canada and has advanced knowledge in Online Video Solutions, Cloud Computing, Security as a Service (SaaS), Identity & Access Management (IAM), and Managed Security Services (MSS).

• Tags

Ÿ4K, Broadcast, Connected TV, Digital Video, DRM, Gabriel Dusil, H.264, H.265, HEVC, Internet Video, Linear Broadcast, Linear TV, Multi + screen, Multiscreen, New Media, Online Video, Online Video Platform, OTT, Over the Top Content, OVP, second screen, Smart TV, Social TV, TV Everywhere, Ultra HD, Ultra High Definition, Digital Trends Video Opinions

• Resources

[1] 1080p, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1080p

[2] Compression artifacts, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compression_artifact

[3] Mosquito Noise, pcmag.com, http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia/term/55914/mosquito-noise

[4] Screen Tearing, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screen_tearing

[5] Ultra HD, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultra-high-definition_television

[6] Video scaler, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_scaler

[7] Resolution of Super 16mm film, cinematechnic.com, http://www.cinematechnic.com/super_16mm/resolution_of_super_16mm.html

[8] What is Encoding and Transcoding?, By Jan Ozer, 20 April 2011, streamingmedia.com, http://www.streamingmedia.com/Articles/Editorial/What-Is-…/What-is-Encoding-and-Transcoding-75025.aspx

[9] (1920×1080 pixels x 24 bits of color per pixel)/8bits per byte = 6.2MB (mega bytes)

[10] H.264, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H.264/MPEG-4_AVC

[11] H.265, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Efficiency_Video_Coding

[12] Mbps, Mega bits per second.

[13] Over the Air, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Over-the-air_programming

[14] NAB ’14, http://www.nabshow.com/, IBC ’14, http://www.ibc.org/

[15] 2160p, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2160p

OTT & Multiscreen • Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society • 1-7 • Complete Series

13.Nov.20 - Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society (title)

In this post you get access to all seven white papers from this Q&A series on Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society. You also get one-click access to each original post. Enjoy!

• Synopsis

•  Understanding the entertainment market from ten thousand meters helps industry executives make strategic decisions. This leads to tactical initiatives that drive innovation, new services, and revenue growth. This Q&A series takes a top level view of today’s digital landscape and helps decision makers navigate through the latest technologies and trends in digital video. Gabriel Dusil, Chief Marketing & Corporate Strategy Officer from Visual Unity, discusses the ongoing developments in Over the Top (OTT) services, how these platforms are helping to shape today’s digital society, and addresses the evolving changes in consumer behavior. Topics include 2nd Screen, 4K Ultra High Definition video, H.265 HEVC, global challenges surrounding content distribution, and the future of OTT.

• Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society – Q&A Series

1. Is 2nd Screen a threat to broadcasters? What are the challenges for OTT moving forward?

13.Nov.20 - Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society (part i, thumbnail)

 

2. How will 4K be adopted by consumers?

13.Nov.20 - Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society (part ii, thumbnail)

 

3. Is there a future for 4K video in broadcast?

13.Nov.20 - Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society (part iii, thumbnail)

 

4. How is OTT evolving, and what’s in store for subscribers?

13.Nov.20 - Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society (part iv, thumbnail)

 

5. How is digital video affecting global communications?

13.Nov.20 - Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society (part v, thumbnail)

 

6. Transcoding Challenges with H.265 HEVC & 4K UHD.

13.Nov.20 - Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society (part vi, thumbnail)

7. What are some improvements that OTT can offer to Online Entertainment Services?

13.Nov.20 - Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society (part vii, thumbnail)

• Tags

• 2nd Screen, 4K, Broadcast, Connected TV, Digital Rights, Digital Video, DRM, Entertainment, Gabriel Dusil, H.264, H.265, HEVC, Internet Video, Linear Broadcast, Linear TV, Multi screen, Multiscreen, New Media, Online Video, Online Video Platform, OTT, Over the Top Content, OVP, Recommendation Engine, Search Discovery, second screen, Smart TV, Social TV, TV Everywhere, Television, UHD, Ultra HD, Ultra High Definition, Video Streaming, Visual Unity Global

OTT & Multiscreen • Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society • 7 • What improvements can OTT offer to Online Entertainment Services?

13.Nov.20 - Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society (title)

• Video

• 9 minutes 44 seconds

7. What improvements can OTT offer to Online Entertainment Services?

With regards to improving OTT, there are four main features that will significantly improve the quality of online digital video services:

  • Content Accessibility
  • Content Upgradability
  • Content Portability
  • Subscriber Personalization

a. Entertainment Needs to be Accessible

Today’s digital society is migrating from an entertainment ownership paradigm to a licensing model. Past consumers typically bought hard copies of music and movies. Then they evolved to using the cloud for storage[i]. The main issue with ownership is that it is inherently inefficient from a global content management perspective. Millions of users own duplicate copies of their entertainment, which in turn amounts to millions of duplicate copies of the same song, movie, or TV program. For the environmentally sensitive, this needlessly adds to the amount of polymer, paper, and other harmful chemicals required to manufacture said copies, not to mention the wasted shelf space they take up in the home.

Extrapolating the idea that content in the future will mainly come in licensed form, it’s conceivable that once content resides in the cloud, those millions of duplicate copies will be rendered unnecessary. Imagine an OTT provider telling their subscribers:

“You no longer need to keep all of those files in the cloud.  We will delete your library and give you the best resolution and quality available for your purchased content. We will even allocate a license to members of your family. Furthermore, you can stream that content onto any device you own. We will format and deliver that content in the best quality possible, depending on the location, device, or network you happen to be using.”

That statement may not yet be feasible, but it offers a realistic vision of the future for OTT services. The licensing model will flip the entertainment industry’s current paradigm on its head. Rather than having millions of users accessing millions of duplicate versions of their entertainment, subscribers will simply license a single instance of that content, whenever and wherever they want. This is the essence of OTT.

13.Nov.20 - Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society (part vii, The ability to access content anytime, anywhere)

OTT services ultimately facilitate a single instance paradigmfor content. This approach has already begun. Consider Apple’s iTunes Match Service[iii] where users can upload their music library to the cloud. In fact, there is no need to upload music at all because the software recognizes that the subscriber has an instance of a song on their computer and grants them access to that song in the cloud. This same principle is possible for movies, TV shows, and any other type of entertainment content.

Practically speaking, one instance of a movie won’t happen in its purest form due to global delivery and caching requirements, archiving, competing services with the same title, etc. But theoretically it is possible have a single 4K or UHD[iv] master of a movie sitting in the cloud (Figure i). If a subscriber wants to access a movie, their content rights license is approved and granted for different devices or users. The movie would then be transcoded on the fly to suit the screen size, processor limitations, and networking capabilities. There are critical factors necessary to make this work, including: chipsets that can transcode 4K content on the fly, ubiquitous Internet access, bandwidth speeds that address quality of service, and seamless yet powerful DRM, to name just a few.

Figure i – Future of Content Delivery

Figure i – Future of Content Delivery

b. Entertainment Needs to be Upgradable

Once content resides in the cloud, such as in an OTT service, then the idea of an upgrade path is viable. Consumers today don’t upgrade their movies and music in the same manner as they upgrade software. Why not? If a user has a Blu-Ray version of a movie and buys a new 4K television, then why shouldn’t there be the possibility to upgrade to a better version? Consumers don’t want to buy content over and over again every time technology improves.

Likewise, when a new family member wants to access the family OTT service, there should be a content rights provision to accommodate that desire. When an extended or recut version is available, or a new featurette[v] is available, subscribers should have the option to pay an incremental fee for that content as well.

Simply put, entertainment should be upgradeable. With content residing in the cloud, OTT services can allow for this level of granularity. A cloud-based licensing model, therefore, provides the platform for upgradability in a manageable and scalable service.

c. Entertainment Needs to be Portable

Content needs to be protected in order to maintain a level of control over portability. Ultraviolet DRM is a solution that seeks to address this need, but true portability is still in its infancy. DRM and the broader scope of content protection is a delicate balance between control and freedom.  The digital locker offered by Ultraviolet seeks to provide a level of freedom for consumers, but can nevertheless feel like a digital prison sometimes.

Portability in the entertainment industry has been extended with the advent of multiple screens (TV, PC, and mobiles), but there are still improvements to be made. Content purchased on one platform (iOS, Android or Windows) should be available on other platforms. Content bought on disc should port to any digital screen owned by the purchaser. Content bought in one geographic region should be accessible internationally. Even movies enjoyed in the cinema could have agreements with OTT providers to find creative ways to offer theater releases in sync with online subscribers.

d. Entertainment Needs a Stellar User Experience

Subscribers want to have fun before, during, and after a movie. The more they have fun, the longer they will stay and play. The longer they stay, the more money they will spend.

This virtual playground is called the User Interface and User Experience (UI/UX) in OTT. It centers on social media, recommendation engines, trivia, games, and statistics, as well as many other features. It’s all about a bi-directional dialog and relationship with subscribers. The consumer is no longer an anonymous viewer to entertainment. Instead, the OTT service provider can facilitate a personal and engaging dialogue with each and every subscriber.

Word-of-mouth and advertising serves to promote head-end content, but does little to promote long-tail titles. With the massive libraries of some OTT services numbering in tens of thousands of titles, it’s quite likely subscribers are not taking advantage of all the content available to them as these libraries are simply too large to navigate. According to Netflix, their recommendation engine accounts for at least 75% of what is being viewed[vi]. A related study found that 14 percent more subscribers enjoy videos following a recommendation versus browsing[vii]. Using different metrics surrounding recommendation engines[viii],therefore,subscribers can migrate to undiscovered titles that are already residing in the service they paid for.

The UI/UX provides the interface to discover new content and allows content distributors to monetize long-tail material that sits dormant in libraries for most of its useful lifespan.

Finally, the value of social media in entertainment should not be underestimated. According to Ooyala, “Personal testimonials are one of the most powerful influences on all types of consumer action… By learning what their trusted friends have enjoyed, and by comparing that to their perception of how much they have in common with the recommender, viewers get a very personalized and motivating impression of what to check out.”[ix]

Clearly, recommendation engines help consumers reach the heretofore uncharted depths of large entertainment libraries.

 


[i] “Turning Piratez into Consumers, II”, by Gabriel Dusil, https://gdusil.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/turning-piratez-into-consumers-ii/

[ii] “The ability to access content anytime, anywhere and on any screen is the essence of today‘s OTT multiscreen strategy.”

[iii] Apple’s iTunes Match Service http://www.apple.com/itunes/itunes-match/

[iv] 4K UHD, Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4K_resolution

[v] Featurette, Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Featurette

[vi] “Science Behind the Netflix Algorithms That Decide What You’ll Watch Next”, by Tom Vanderbilt, 7th August 2013, Wired.com http://www.wired.com/2013/08/qq_netflix-algorithm/

[vii] “Branded Videos Shared More Than 500,000 Times Every 24 Hours”, by Greg Jarboe, 11th June 2013 http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2273968/Branded-Videos-Shared-More-Than-500000-Times-Every-24-Hours

[viii] For example: rating systems, social networking, “Likes”, shares, and chat statistics, viewing guides, promotion through syndication, past behavior, demographics ofusers with common interests

[ix] “Connecting Consumers with Content”, Ooyala http://go.ooyala.com/rs/OOYALA/images/ooyala-content-discovery-whitepaper.pdf

.

• Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society

•Ÿ  Check out additional thought leadership answers to the entertainment challenges in today’s digital society:

1. Is 2nd Screen a threat to broadcasters? What are the challenges for OTT moving forward?

https://gdusil.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/entertainment-challenges-in-todays-digital-society-i-of-vii/

2. How will 4K be adopted by consumers?

https://gdusil.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/entertainment-challenges-in-todays-digital-society-ii-of-vii/

3. Is there a future for 4K video in broadcast?

https://gdusil.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/entertainment-challenges-in-todays-digital-society-iii-of-vii/

4. How is OTT evolving, and what’s in store for subscribers?

https://gdusil.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/entertainment-challenges-in-todays-digital-society-iv-of-vii/

5. How is digital video affecting global communications?

https://gdusil.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/entertainment-challenges-in-todays-digital-society-v-of-vii/

• Synopsis

•  Understanding the entertainment market from ten thousand meters helps industry executives make strategic decisions. This leads to tactical initiatives that drive innovation, new services, and revenue growth. This Q&A series takes a top level view of today’s digital landscape and helps decision makers navigate through the latest technologies and trends in digital video. Gabriel Dusil, Chief Marketing & Corporate Strategy Officer from Visual Unity, discusses the ongoing developments in Over the Top (OTT) services, how these platforms are helping to shape today’s digital society, and addresses the evolving changes in consumer behavior. Topics include 2nd Screen, 4K Ultra High Definition video, H.265 HEVC, global challenges surrounding content distribution, and the future of OTT.

• About Gabriel Dusil

Home - Signature, Gabriel Dusil ('12, shadow, orange)

Gabriel Dusil is the Chief Marketing and Corporate Strategy Officer at Visual Unity, with a mandate to advance the company’s portfolio into next generation solutions and expand the company’s global presence. Before joining Visual Unity, Gabriel was the VP of Sales & Marketing at Cognitive Security, and Director of Alliances at SecureWorks, responsible for partners in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). Previously, Gabriel worked at VeriSign and Motorola in a combination of senior marketing and sales roles. Gabriel obtained a degree in Engineering Physics from McMaster University in Canada and has advanced knowledge in Online Video Solutions, Cloud Computing, Security as a Service (SaaS), Identity and Access Management (IAM), and Managed Security Services (MSS).

• Tags

• 2nd Screen, 4K, Broadcast, Connected TV, Digital Rights, Digital Video, DRM, Gabriel Dusil, H.264, H.265, HEVC, Internet Video, Linear Broadcast, Linear TV, Multi-screen, Multiscreen, New Media, Online Video, Online Video Platform, OTT, Over the Top Content, OVP, Recommendation Engine, Search Discovery, second screen, Smart TV, Social TV, TV Anywhere, TV Everywhere, UHD, Ultra HD, Ultra High Definition, Visual Unity

OTT & Multiscreen • Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society • 6 • Transcoding Challenges with H.265 HEVC & 4K UHD.

13.Nov.20 - Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society (title)

• Video

• 2 minutes 46 seconds

6. Transcoding Challenges with H.265 HEVC & 4K UHD

• The video quality of entertainment is constantly improving, while viewing behavior is changing rapidly as well. H.265 (otherwise known as High Efficiency Video Coding, or HEVC) promises double the amount of video with the same bandwidth compared to H.264. Or viewed from a different perspective, video will be transmitted at half the bandwidth compared to H.264.

H.265 is becoming synonymous with 4K (4096×2160) and UHD (3840×2160). And true 4K from a broadcast perspective is becoming synonymous with HDMI 2.0. These three technologies need to converge to bring consumers to the next level in digital video.

The foundations of the H.265 standard were finalized over different stages throughout 2013, but it will still take time before consumers see this codec supported in consumer electronics. In addition, the industry still has to learn how to optimize the quality of compressed content so that it is bandwidth efficient, while still maintaining consistent high quality. Even though H.265 promises 50% efficiency, we’re not there yet as early tests reveal compression efficiencies to be between 15% and 35%. Bandwidth efficiency also translates to lower storage requirements which will be a welcome improvement for cloud service providers.

Figure i - H.264 vs. H.265 - Encoding Time

Figure i – H.264 vs. H.265 – Encoding Time

At the moment, encoding in H.265 is expected to take ten times longer than H.264 at the same frame size, so this will initially be a burden to encoding and transcoding services at the ingest stage. But this metric doesn’t tell the whole story.  H.265 encoding should also be understood from the context of 4K encoding and higher color bit depth.  Figure i attempts to show the encoding burden against time, represented along the horizontal axis[1].

When 4K becomes mainstream, and with 4K frames at four times the size of HD frames, it is estimated that encoding will take 40x longer than today’s HD @ H.264. That’s assuming we’ll be happy with 8-bit encoding (typically found in Blu-Ray and DVD movies). Time will tell whether the industry will accept 8-bit at 4K. It’s also possible that 10-bit will be synonymous with 4K, or maybe even 12-bit as the technology matures.

Time will tell…

 


[1] These are just estimates, and have not yet been lab tested.

• Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society

•Ÿ  Check out additional thought leadership answers to the entertainment challenges in today’s digital society:

1. Is 2nd Screen a threat to broadcasters? What are the challenges for OTT moving forward?

https://gdusil.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/entertainment-challenges-in-todays-digital-society-i-of-vii/

2. How will 4K be adopted by consumers?

https://gdusil.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/entertainment-challenges-in-todays-digital-society-ii-of-vii/

3. Is there a future for 4K video in broadcast?

https://gdusil.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/entertainment-challenges-in-todays-digital-society-iii-of-vii/

4. How is OTT evolving, and what’s in store for subscribers?

https://gdusil.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/entertainment-challenges-in-todays-digital-society-iv-of-vii/

5. How is digital video affecting global communications?

https://gdusil.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/entertainment-challenges-in-todays-digital-society-v-of-vii/

• Synopsis

•  Understanding the entertainment market from ten thousand meters helps industry executives make strategic decisions. This leads to tactical initiatives that drive innovation, new services, and revenue growth. This Q&A series takes a top level view of today’s digital landscape and helps decision makers navigate through the latest technologies and trends in digital video. Gabriel Dusil, Chief Marketing & Corporate Strategy Officer from Visual Unity, discusses the ongoing developments in Over the Top (OTT) services, how these platforms are helping to shape today’s digital society, and addresses the evolving changes in consumer behavior. Topics include 2nd Screen, 4K Ultra High Definition video, H.265 HEVC, global challenges surrounding content distribution, and the future of OTT.

• About Gabriel Dusil

Home - Signature, Gabriel Dusil ('12, shadow, orange)

• Gabriel Dusil is the Chief Marketing and Corporate Strategy Officer at Visual Unity, with a mandate to advance the company’s portfolio into next generation solutions and expand the company’s global presence. Before joining Visual Unity, Gabriel was the VP of Sales & Marketing at Cognitive Security, and Director of Alliances at SecureWorks, responsible for partners in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). Previously, Gabriel worked at VeriSign and Motorola in a combination of senior marketing and sales roles. Gabriel obtained a degree in Engineering Physics from McMaster University in Canada and has advanced knowledge in Online Video Solutions, Cloud Computing, Security as a Service (SaaS), Identity and Access Management (IAM), and Managed Security Services (MSS).

• Tags

• 2nd Screen, 4K, Broadcast, Connected TV, Digital Rights, Digital Video, DRM, Gabriel Dusil, H.264, H.265, HEVC, Internet Video, Linear Broadcast, Linear TV, Multi-screen, Multiscreen, New Media, Online Video, Online Video Platform, OTT, Over the Top Content, OVP, Recommendation Engine, Search & Discovery, Search and Discovery, second screen, Smart TV, Social TV, TV Everywhere, UHD, Ultra HD, Ultra High Definition, Visual Unity

OTT & Multiscreen • Featured Speaker at the OTT Video Executive Summit

Gabriel Dusil from Visual Unity Global  is Announced as a Featured Speaker at the OTT Video Executive Summit

www.OTTVideoSummit.com

April 14th, 2014. Prague, London, Dubai— Visual Unity Global, a leading OTT platform and multiscreen solution provider,announces Gabriel Dusil, Chief Marketing and Corporate Strategy Officer as a featured speaker at the Over-the-Top Video Executive Summit (www.OTTVideoSummit.com), to be held at Boston’s Lenox Hotel on April 16. Mr. Dusil will speak on topics of “All things content— licensing, transformation, DRM, tracking”, and “Integrating OTT with Social”.

The OTT Video Executive Summit brings together thought leaders to discuss topics crucial to the development of streaming video and evolving Pay TV business models. The conference topics range from content, enabling technologies, to discussions on the evolving viewing behavior of consumers. In addition to experts and executives, the conference includes a panel of everyday people from various demographics. The event is also gamefied, with the leading point-getter being awarded the “OTT Genius” trophy.

“Our audience will benefit greatly from Gabriel Dusil’s experience and perspective on this dynamic industry,” said Brian Mahony, CEO of event producer Trender Research™ Inc. (www.trenderresearch.com). “The industry is going through a period of rapid change, and innovation from companies such as Visual Unity puts it in the driver’s seat.”

In addition to the topics where Mr. Dusil will be speaking, the additional sessions include:

  • “Netflix and net neutrality, who wins?”
  • “Economics of hybrid Pay TV/OTT video services”
  • “Content discovery and navigation— way beyond channel surfing”
  • “What’s a TV channel these days? What’s a brand?”
  • “TV Everywhere: Is it really? What will it take?”
  • “Changing consumer behavior— cord-cutting, multi-screen, interactivity, demographics”
  • “Platform device wars— TVs, consoles, STBs, tablets, mobile”
  • “HD OTA: the dirty little secret”

A focus group of from various demographics will also provide insights on their viewing habits. These include profiles such as “Chatty Tween,” “Working Mom”, “New Vision for Univision”, and “Nana.”

“The OTT Video Executive Summit is an excellent venue to peer into the future trends of video streaming,” said Gabriel Dusil.  “The OTT market has grown at an unprecedented pace, from its birth less than ten years ago.  The thought leadership represented at this event will help industry leaders to make informed and strategic decisions in how they shape their online revenue opportunities.”

The OTT Video Executive Summit is a one day event and is open to executives across the industry. For more information or media inquiries, contact Brian Mahony, bmahony@trenderresearch.com, +1 508-479-7254.

About Visual Unity Global

Visual Unity Global is a global provider of video and digital media solutions, enabling our clients to deliver premium quality video content over the internet. Our clients can measure, analyze and optimize their libraries over time and achieve optimal business success. Our platform capabilities inspire our clients to deploy their assets across multiple devices, screens, and media formats. Visual Unity helps clients manage, deliver and monetize their digital content.

Visual Unity is a Multiscreen Solution Provider, bridging the gap between linear broadcast, IT and IPTV to help clients reach and engage audiences on any screen. Since 1991, the team has been designing and delivering turnkey broadcast and complex multiscreen solutions worldwide – from HD outside Broadcast (OB) vehicles and major playout facilities to live internet streaming and Video on Demand services. Visual Unity’s award-winning vuMedia™ platform helps broadcasters and content owners control how their brand and assets are managed and monetized in the multiscreen environment. vuMedia™ is a highly scalable and a modular architecture, delivering a cutting-edge live viewing experience on the web or any mobile or connected device – all of which can be deployed into existing workflows and business processes.

Visual Unity is based in Prague, London, Munich, Nairobi and Los Angeles. For further information, please visit www.visualunity.com, info@visualunity.com

OTT & Multiscreen • Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society • 5 • How is digital video affecting global communications?

13.Nov.20 - Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society (title)

• Video

• 6 minutes 15 seconds

5. How is digital video affecting global communications?

In today’s digital video landscape there is a battle between the entertainment, computing and communications industries. The entertainment industry includes content owners and those that license content for distribution. In computing we find companies that provide hosting, storage, and application-based services. Within the communications sphere are telcos, network service providers (NSPs), and Internet service providers (ISPs) that distribute data around the world. P2P networking is a good communications example of a transport protocol riding on top of the Internet.

Figure i – Industry Wars between Entertainment, Communications & Computing

Figure i – Industry Wars between Entertainment, Communications & Computing

For several years, ISP’s have observed an increase in bandwidth of a magnitude higher than they were accustomed to before video streaming became popular. It may be argued that the turning point was around 2005 with the introduction of high definition video at a time when Internet bandwidth was fast enough to stream good quality video. The popularity of Apple’s iPhone, together with the launch of YouTube, accelerated the use of video to the mass market.

This has forced ISPs to upgrade their back-end and last-mile infrastructures in order to meet these higher bandwidth demands and maintain quality of service (QoS). The issue is when we look at service usage in OTT providers like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and others. With Netflix subscribers exceeding 40 million and Hulu now over 5 million, typical bandwidth usage for these subscribers far exceeds that of a typical user. The average Netflix user watches five TV shows and three movies per week[i]. This can easily generate up to 80GB of traffic per month if we’re talking about high-definition content. Power users can easily exceed 160GB per month when P2P downloads are taken into account (see Figure ii). Compare this to figures released by Sandvine[ii], wherein Europeans average around 13GB per month on their fixed line service. Their USA counterparts are over three times higher, averaging 45GB. So in countries where OTT is relatively mature, bandwidth usage can easily skyrocket.

Figure ii – Internet Usage Comparison – Europe vs. USA

Figure ii – Internet Usage Comparison – Europe vs. USA

The bottom line is that ISPs are not earning the same incremental revenue from OTT because these are existing subscribers that are already paying for their ISP service. But now they are also using the connection to download video from their OTT provider. From an infrastructure perspective, when Netflix doubles their users, they can effectively use those funds to double the capacity of their OTT service. On the flip side, the ISP sees an accelerated increase in bandwidth usage, reaching and exceeding 10 times more than normal with no foreseeable increase in revenue. But they still must upgrade their networking infrastructure in order to meet capacity. Some see this as ISPs getting the short end of the stick (Figure iii).

Figure iii – ISP vs. OTT Revenue Compared to Infrastructure Cost

Figure iii – ISP vs. OTT Revenue Compared to Infrastructure Cost

Certainly bandwidth usage cannot be blamed on OTT providers themselves. Video is also streamed from websites, video is downloaded through P2P networks, and corporate infrastructures are increasingly using video for communications. Regardless, in markets where video streaming services are prevalent, bandwidth usage per subscriber can burden network infrastructures.

ISPs may feel they are losing power over their subscribers. As a counter-offensive, we’re seeing examples where ISPs are vying to bring control back to their camp. One way is through bandwidth caps on fixed line services (similar to bandwidth caps on mobile services). ISPs are looking to regain control of the subscriber through what could be viewed as a form of Internet governance: charging extra fees based on the type of traffic traversing their network, or traffic shaping, whereby certain traffic such as P2P or OTT video is set to low priority or blocked all together, with traffic being prioritized in a way that is preferred by the ISP. This serves to stifle the use of high bandwidth applications such as OTT and may result in higher fees for heavy Internet users. Essentially this is a way for ISPs to level the playing field.

Increased bandwidth usage due to digital video brings new challenges to an infrastructure provider. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for all those involved as threats can also be turned into opportunities. Some Internet providers (eg. cable companies and satellite companies) are working towards regaining control of their market space by investing in OTT – essentially adding OTT as an extension to their communications portfolio.  Triple play[iii] (Internet, telephone, and television) and quadruple play[iv] providers (who include mobile services) are already heading in the right direction. ISPs that are already responsible for transmitting video envision hosting and managing entertainment assets as a strategic expansion of their communications portfolio. This speaks to the convergence of communications, computing and entertainment industries through a conduit that converges onto OTT.

It’s not just ISPs that have seemingly lost control and are being relegated to utility providers. Mobile providers have also been bumped from the pedestal of supremacy. The three applications they owned – voice, contacts, and text messaging (SMS[v]) – have now been over-shadowed by the millions of applications accessible through the Internet. Mobile providers no longer control the handset, applications, or content.  And for that reason they are under threat of becoming a utility, an infrastructure of interconnections, where their borders are wireless base stations, not end-users. To regain relevance in their market telcos need to reach consumers once again. From an entertainment perspective, telcos have an opportunity to extend their participation in the content value chain – creating, uploading, managing, delivering and consuming content by investing in OTT services. This investment solidifies their value in the virtual supply chain of digital video.


[i] “Average Netflix User Watches 5 TV Shows, 3 Movies Per Week via the Service”, Business Wire, 6th Sep 2012, http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120906006400/en/Average-Netflix-User-Watches-5-TV-Shows#.UtAD9_RDtUA

[ii] Sandvine – Global Internet Phenomena Report (12.2H)

[iii] Triple Play, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_play_(telecommunications)

[iv] Quadruple Play, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadruple_play

[v] Short Message Service, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_Message_Service

• Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society

•Ÿ  Check out additional thought leadership answers to the entertainment challenges in today’s digital society:

1. Is 2nd Screen a threat to broadcasters? What are the challenges for OTT moving forward?

https://gdusil.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/entertainment-challenges-in-todays-digital-society-i-of-vii/

2. How will 4K be adopted by consumers?

https://gdusil.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/entertainment-challenges-in-todays-digital-society-ii-of-vii/

3. Is there a future for 4K video in broadcast?

https://gdusil.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/entertainment-challenges-in-todays-digital-society-iii-of-vii/

• Synopsis

•  Understanding the entertainment market from ten thousand meters helps industry executives make strategic decisions. This leads to tactical initiatives that drive innovation, new services, and revenue growth. This Q&A series takes a top level view of today’s digital landscape and helps decision makers navigate through the latest technologies and trends in digital video. Gabriel Dusil, Chief Marketing & Corporate Strategy Officer from Visual Unity, discusses the ongoing developments in Over the Top (OTT) services, how these platforms are helping to shape today’s digital society, and addresses the evolving changes in consumer behavior. Topics include 2nd Screen, 4K Ultra High Definition video, H.265 HEVC, global challenges surrounding content distribution, and the future of OTT.

• About Gabriel Dusil

Home - Signature, Gabriel Dusil ('12, shadow, orange)

Gabriel Dusil is the Chief Marketing and Corporate Strategy Officer at Visual Unity, with a mandate to advance the company’s portfolio into next generation solutions and expand the company’s global presence. Before joining Visual Unity, Gabriel was the VP of Sales & Marketing at Cognitive Security, and Director of Alliances at SecureWorks, responsible for partners in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). Previously, Gabriel worked at VeriSign and Motorola in a combination of senior marketing and sales roles. Gabriel obtained a degree in Engineering Physics from McMaster University in Canada and has advanced knowledge in Online Video Solutions, Cloud Computing, Security as a Service (SaaS), Identity and Access Management (IAM), and Managed Security Services (MSS).

• Tags

• 2nd Screen, 4K, Broadcast, Connected TV, Digital Rights, Digital Video, DRM, Gabriel Dusil, H.264, H.265, HEVC, Internet Video, Linear Broadcast, Linear TV, Multi-screen, Multiscreen, New Media, Online Video, Online Video Platform, OTT, Over the Top Content, OVP, Recommendation Engine, Search & Discovery, Search and Discovery, second screen, Smart TV, Social TV, TV Everywhere, UHD, Ultra HD, Ultra High Definition, Visual Unity

OTT & Multiscreen • Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society • 4 • How is OTT evolving, and what’s in store for subscribers?

13.Nov.20 - Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society (title)

• Video

• 9 minutes 36 seconds

4. How is OTT evolving, and what’s in store for subscribers?

Figure i - OTT Adoption - Vertical & Horizontal tiers

Figure i – OTT Adoption – Vertical & Horizontal tiers

The adoption of OTT is evolving internationally along three main tiers:

  • Tier 1– These are global and national broadcasters that are adopting their own OTT service. In the context of the technology adoption life cycle[i], they are the innovators of online streaming services.  Their entertainment library is delivered as either subscription-based Video on Demand (SVoD), transaction-based VoD (TVoD), or advertising-based services (AVoD). The most popular OTT method according to recent studies is SVoD[ii], although TVoD is also gaining in popularity. This points to the desire of subscribers wanting more granular control of their entertainment.
  • Tier 2– These are regional broadcasters, distributors, and content aggregators that see OTT as an opportunity to expand their traditional portfolios by distributing content over the Internet. This tier also includes telcos and network service providers (NSP) looking to expand their services into entertainment by hosting and managing OTT content. These companies collectively represent the early adopters.
  • Tier 3– This is a relatively new market opportunity in the context of OTT. Here sits the early majority, which includes online retailers, higher education, and houses of worship, to name but a few. These companies have large treasure troves of videos for product promotion, training, advertising, and video blogs for public consumption. But some videos need to remain confidential, for partner usage only, or to a select number of subscribers. Typical file-based storage solutions are not appropriate for the real-time and bandwidth-intensive nature of video. And the added complexity of ingest, transcoding, metadata, and multiscreen viewing results in enterprises looking for a more suitable private OTTplatform. Within this tier there are libraries that lie dormant, waiting for an appropriate OTT service that allows control over their subscriber base, implementation of strong protection, and a service that retains their content rights.
Figure ii - OTT Evolution - Geographic Distribution

Figure ii – OTT Evolution – Geographic Distribution

These tiers are serviced somewhat differently across the globe. In emerging markets such as Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, or Africa, the main opportunities continue to reside in the higher tiers. For developed markets such as Western Europe and the USA, there is untapped potential in the lower tiers. At the moment, the USA leads the market in OTT development. Europe, Canada, and selected countries in Asia are around 18-24 months behind the USA in deployments. The remaining third-tier and emerging markets are 36-48 months behind the USA.

OTT is also evolving based on how users are consuming content. Or rather: how they wantto consume content. The days of bundled pay-TV services may be numbered. Why pay for 500 channels when the average user watches channels whose number can be counted on one hand? Consumers only want to buy what they consume – no more, no less. This change in consumer behavior will be a threat to niche channels, but it may also be an opportunity for the long tail to differentiate its content and attract subscribers directly.

Buying a pay TV service is like going to a book store and having to buy the entire section of the store for just one book. Subscription-based services are closer to obtaining a library card and just borrowing the books you want. Borrowing in the OTT context is the same as licensing: once all the content resides in the cloud, then subscribers get a virtual license to access that content. And all that content is readily accessible, whether the subscriber knows it’s there or not.

This brings us to the evolution and need for recommendation engines and their need to accurately present content that is relevant to each and every user. The modern recommendation engine combines viewing and purchasing habits, demographics, friend recommendations, collaborative engines, and other metrics to provide suggestions that fuel viewing into the long tail.

Figure iii – OTT Evolution - Content Discovery

Figure iii – OTT Evolution – Content Discovery

Adolescent Collector

My dad drove me home from school one day when I was eight years old. I remember enjoying the song that was playing on the radio but had no idea who sang it or what it was called. I distinctly remember thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could have a copy of every song that I ever liked?”

This was the developing mind of a collector, and my imagination didn’t stop there. I dreamt on and thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if I not only had the songs that I knew I liked, but someone would give me all of the songs that I liked, but didn’t even know existed?”

As I sat there in the passenger seat, barely able to see out the window (booster seats didn’t exist then, and I probably wasn’t wearing my seat belt), I imagined how big my collection would be. How many songs did I know and already liked? How big would my collection be if it included songs I wasn’t even aware of yet? What type of machine would be able to do all that?

Our Dodge station wagon wasn’t a great ride by any stretch of the imagination, and certainly the audio system was paltry. Forget surround sound. Forget the Internet, too. Eight-track tapes were on their way out and vinyl was the audiophile’s chosen medium. But it didn’t seem to matter at the time. I didn’t own any cassettes or records until I began to collect albums in my teens. Then I recorded my own compilations onto cassette tapes. In the 90’s, I migrated my entire collection to CD’s, and eventually even ditched all of them once I stored the entire collection onto my computer. I had the forethought to rip my collection in 320kbps MP3, which was complete overkill at the time due to 128kbps being the norm. But I realized that as technology progressed, the demand for higher quality would persist, and if were to rip 500 audio discs, I would do it only once in my life.

The computer, Internet, and some incredibly smart people were eventually born into this world to bring us technology where we can quickly search for new or related musical interests. We can sample artists that are in visual cluster maps similar to artists we already like[iii]. We can do the same for song titles as well. Spotify, Rhapsody and Apple’s Genius allow us to discover artists that we never even knew existed.

Many years have passed since my childhood dream of collecting all that content, and I find myself in a world where this collector’s dream has now become a reality.

4. How has social interaction evolved from broadcast to OTT?

Entertainment is About Communication

It’s worth mentioning at this stage that I strongly delineate between the average consumer and the avid collector. For example, most people are happy to visit the local library. But collectors want to bethe library. There will always be collectors that find personal satisfaction in owning vast libraries of music and movies. But it’s the average consumer that drives the industry, not the collector. The average subscriber is where the bulk of OTT revenue will come from, and online services need to cater to the behaviors of the mainstream consumer.

These days I use Facebook to view what my friends ‘like’ and scan Twitter to see what they’re chatting about. I follow others with similar interests and monitor their comments. I also read recommendations from like-minded individuals to guide me to new material. Even the viewing statistics of people that I don’t know help me determine whether a view count is high enough for me to check  out. I will also check out suggestions from my content provider hoping to find something new and exciting to watch.

Technology is evolving to a level of detail where subscribers are presented with personalized lists of suggestions that dig deep into media libraries and present suggestions that are both accurate and compelling. We’re getting to a level of sophistication in search and discovery where these engines will know our interests better than our best friend– maybe even better than we know ourselves. That seems scary, but let’s not get side-tracked. It can also be an opportunity.

If a recommendation engine can provide suggestions that are extremely accurate, then subscribers will pay more attention to the service. This will help drive subscriber loyalty and higher revenue opportunities.

Subscribers can enjoy suggestions from recommendation engines and social interaction thanks to the bi-directional nature of the Internet. Broadcast, for the most part, is unidirectional. Their audience is anonymous and any feedback is “out of band”. But OTT is inherently bi-directional. And that opens new doors in subscriber engagement and personalization. The entertainment industry is only now beginning to tap into the full potential of real-time bidirectional communications. Reality shows utilize text voting and Twitter. Television offers second screen apps for live broadcasts[iv]. Despite this, advertising and social networking have yet to find their full potential in the context of online entertainment. At least we are on the right track with the industry’s bi-directional communication experiment, and that is leading to higher engagement and personalization.

Figure iv – OTT Evolution - More than Just Video

Figure iv – OTT Evolution – More than Just Video

Up to this point we have focused on OTT as an entertainment platform. But OTT is becoming more than just live, video on demand, or premium content. OTT is on its way to becoming a platform that serves entertainment, computing, and communication. The culmination of all three of these industries merges on OTT where a) video, music and gaming fall under entertainment, b) productivity applications and storage reside in computing, and c) conferencing and social networking are part of communications.


[i] Technology adoption lifecycle, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_adoption_lifecycle

[ii] Streaming Media – OTT Video, Coming to a Paid Channel Near You (13.Q3)

[iii] Music-map, http://www.music-map.com/

[iv] “8 great apps for second-screen TV”, Times Herald, http://www.timesherald.com/technology/20140204/8-great-apps-for-second-screen-tv

• Entertainment Challenges in Today’s Digital Society

•Ÿ  Check out additional thought leadership answers to the entertainment challenges in today’s digital society:

1. Is 2nd Screen a threat to broadcasters? What are the challenges for OTT moving forward?

https://gdusil.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/entertainment-challenges-in-todays-digital-society-i-of-vii/

2. How will 4K be adopted by consumers?

https://gdusil.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/entertainment-challenges-in-todays-digital-society-ii-of-vii/

3. Is there a future for 4K video in broadcast?

https://gdusil.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/entertainment-challenges-in-todays-digital-society-iii-of-vii/

• Synopsis

•  Understanding the entertainment market from ten thousand meters helps industry executives make strategic decisions. This leads to tactical initiatives that drive innovation, new services, and revenue growth. This Q&A series takes a top level view of today’s digital landscape and helps decision makers navigate through the latest technologies and trends in digital video. Gabriel Dusil, Chief Marketing & Corporate Strategy Officer from Visual Unity, discusses the ongoing developments in Over the Top (OTT) services, how these platforms are helping to shape today’s digital society, and addresses the evolving changes in consumer behavior. Topics include 2nd Screen, 4K Ultra High Definition video, H.265 HEVC, global challenges surrounding content distribution, and the future of OTT.

• About Gabriel Dusil

Home - Signature, Gabriel Dusil ('12, shadow, orange)

Gabriel Dusil is the Chief Marketing and Corporate Strategy Officer at Visual Unity, with a mandate to advance the company’s portfolio into next generation solutions and expand the company’s global presence. Before joining Visual Unity, Gabriel was the VP of Sales & Marketing at Cognitive Security, and Director of Alliances at SecureWorks, responsible for partners in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). Previously, Gabriel worked at VeriSign and Motorola in a combination of senior marketing and sales roles. Gabriel obtained a degree in Engineering Physics from McMaster University in Canada and has advanced knowledge in Online Video Solutions, Cloud Computing, Security as a Service (SaaS), Identity and Access Management (IAM), and Managed Security Services (MSS).

• Tags

• 2nd Screen, 4K, Broadcast, Connected TV, Digital Rights, Digital Video, DRM, Gabriel Dusil, H.264, H.265, HEVC, Internet Video, Linear Broadcast, Linear TV, Multi-screen, Multiscreen, New Media, Online Video, Online Video Platform, OTT, Over the Top Content, OVP, Recommendation Engine, Search & Discovery, Search and Discovery, second screen, Smart TV, Social TV, TV Everywhere, UHD, Ultra HD, Ultra High Definition, Visual Unity