Streaming & OTT At IBC 2023

Premium live sports streaming, global distribution, and mobile streaming are key OTT themes for IBC 2023. This puts the spotlight on performance and ultra-low and latency streaming, as well as security of mobile apps and unauthorized devices. Other themes include energy efficiency and sustainability; support for targeted advertising with the proliferation of FAST (Free Ad Supported TV) channels; and global content distribution.

Live sports streaming is more dominant than ever at IBC 2023, coming as rights holders seek greater revenues through wider distribution while also facing a continuing struggle to defend against video piracy and unauthorized redistribution. The rise in IP streaming generally, combined with proliferating service access from mobile devices, has sparked new developments in content security. There is growing focus on protection of apps and unsecured mobile devices, and also on insulation of IP traffic as more legacy providers migrate to internet distribution.

Also evident at IBC 2023 is the increasing attention to other sectors and use cases beyond sports streaming, including automotive and hospitality. These throw up some specific challenges, especially in the hotel subsector, for which provision of effective streaming services has become a more critical differentiator after its emergence from the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Consumers are no longer satisfied just being able to access a basic set of pay TV channels on a smart TV in a hotel room, they want to access their own authorized content from their smartphones, tablets or laptops. They also want additional services, such as gaming and conferencing, either from the screen or their own devices.

Admittedly they can often obtain these services directly, but the hotel ecosystem must ensure that it dovetails with these where appropriate. An essential challenge is to enforce security controls while enabling easy access to services, encouraging customers to enjoy and in some cases pay for them.

Appear is among vendors acknowledging the primacy of live sports streaming at IBC 2023, with Murray Barker, Head of Product Marketing, noting this had influenced its stand design. “Visitors will be introduced to a different stand concept from Appear this year,” said Murray. “Without giving too much away this will be based around our core messaging and values for premium live sports event content.”

Another major OTT theme is the ongoing migration of legacy services to the internet, when the main concerns are overall robustness and assurance that traditional broadcast standards of performance and security are at least sustained.

“Shifting to IP-based video transport is going to be top of the agenda for many business leaders at IBC 2023,” said Chris Myers, EVP, Chief Revenue Officer at content distribution technology vendor LTN.

Sustainability and energy efficiency have also continued rising up the agenda for all aspects of the video lifecycle, including streaming. Barker noted that power efficiency added value to a streaming system by reducing costs, as well as helping meet emissions and sustainability targets.

Another key source of added value lies in customization of channels, which has become more critical with streaming because of its potential to reach diverse audiences on a global scale. “We have found that the market is still trying to find ways to easily customize content of all types, through business rules and policies, all from within a global transmission network,” said Myers. “This provides a completely unique experience with options that just aren’t possible on fixed fiber and satellite-based delivery options.”

Vendor Focus:

Appear (Stand 1.C61) will underline three areas where it believes it has taken significant strides over the last year, SRT Acceleration, IP trust boundary security, and simplified API first management integration. The last of these was driven by the trend towards assembly of discrete reusable APIs in video platforms, rather than monolithic products that hinder revision and integration.

SRT Acceleration has the main benefit of reducing cost of distribution by improving bandwidth efficiency, while cutting latency to acceptable levels for streaming distribution. Finally, IP trust boundary security, which terminates media flows at a network boundary and re-establishes them on the other side, enables security to be enforced between networks, bearing down on spoofing, hijacking and other attacks.

“We are shifting to value led solutions for our customers and this will be evident from the messaging and narrative we will be discussing on our stand,” said Barker. “We will also be discussing how we enable value such as unleashing power efficiency, meeting sustainability targets and delivering more live premium service choice through market leading channel density.”

The company was cautiously optimistic it would repeat successes in winning awards for its hardware accelerated SRT video transport for the X Platform. “I would say we are quietly confident. We would love to build on our industry award success at NAB 2023 and be recognized for the amazing development work advancing the Appear portfolio for our customers with advancements in power and operational efficiencies whilst being true to our core values such as baked-in sustainability and the aligning to our concept of elegant engineering,” said Barker.

LTN (Stand 5.A76) will be accentuating advances in its two flagship platforms, the LTN Wave IP transmission system and LTN Arc managed, cloud-enabled production package.

“We will continue our focus on our LTN Wave and LTN Arc solutions at IBC 2023. The demand for creating versions of both linear channels and live sports events has exploded and we are always working on enhancing those services with exciting new features and capabilities,” said Rick Young, LTN’s SVP, Head of Global Products. “We have found that the market is still trying to find ways to easily customize content of all types, through business rules and policies, all from within a global transmission network. This provides a unique experience with options that just aren’t possible on fixed fiber and satellite-based delivery options.”

With LTN Wave, LTN is working with some major brands to add platform or region-specific ad signaling to channels. “Channel creators are also looking to enforce blackouts or do content replacement within the LTN Network.”

With LTN Arc, additional customers are coming on board and are being assisted with adding more live programming. “We are adding more advanced data integration, automation, customized graphics and publishing options to allow leagues, federations and digital platforms of all types to benefit from the subscriber growth and churn reduction that comes along with licensing and distributing live sports,” said Young.

MainStreaming (Stand 5.H38).  Their focus is on video processing and analytics at the edge, aiming to reduce transmission costs, latency and performance. At IBC 2023 it will be discussing with customers and others how and when to deploy edge processing, distinguishing between scenarios where it delivers huge benefits and those where it is inappropriate. It is particularly applicable for on demand video where content can be cached locally at the edge to reduce core bandwidth or CDN costs, and interactive services including gaming where the low latency resulting from shorter transmission paths can be decisive.

At IBC 2023, Mainstreaming will be highlighting how its edge analytics can inform service providers how their edge servers are performing and how heavily they are being used. This features a dashboard with four tabs: Performance Graph, Performance Table, Availability and Response Time.

Telstra (Stand 5.B80).  As a telco Telstra is again focusing on global internet content delivery. The company will feature its Telstra Broadcast Services (TBS) launched a year ago at IBC 2022 to cater for international broadcasters delivering major events. This builds on a new version of its Internet Delivery Network (IDN), designed to maximize content value and revenue opportunities through faster and easier deployment at lower cost.

Telstra IDN is a software-defined, cloud-based platform for transporting high-quality video content and live broadcast streams to any registered endpoint across the public internet, or any shared unmanaged IP network. By avoiding the expense of delivering content using over dedicated links between event sites and traditional broadcast facilities, the idea is that producers can reallocate budgets toward experimental new content experiences at lower risk. Media and sports rights holders also benefit from lower-cost access to new buyers and audiences.

Verimatrix (Stand 1.D81). With its background in revenue protection, Verimatrix is focusing on extensions to its security portfolio designed specifically for streaming. The company’s Verimatrix Streamkeeper received a 2023 NAB Show Product of the Year Award for its use of machine learning (ML), and so that will be underscored at IBC 2023.

The company’s SVP Global Marketing Jon Samsel has coined the phrase “from stream to screen” as a strapline for the challenge of securing content over its online distribution path that can straddle multiple networks and be subject to varying rules for playback in destination countries.

Verimatrix is featuring its XTD, designed to protect apps and unmanaged devices, which has become a significant challenge as service providers make premium content available over mobile networks.

Zixi (Stand 5.A85). Primary focus is on worldwide content distribution for new revenue generation. The company is majoring on its ecosystem called Zixi Enabled Network (ZEN) and will be demonstrating features enabling content distributors to reach worldwide audiences more easily. This exploits the ZEN ecosystem of over 1000 media companies and 400 technology partners around the world for exchange of live video.

Zixi ZENMaster

Zixi ZENMaster

Zixi is also exhibiting new facets of its SDVP (Software Defined Video Platform), including ultra-low latency, with compute and efficiency improvements for workflow optimization and cost savings.

Zixi’s avowed deep partnership with AWS will perhaps be the biggest highlight, including integration of SDVP in AWS Wavelength Zones, which comprise infrastructure embedding AWS compute and storage services within mobile service providers 5G networks. This helps meet increasing demand for video service delivery over 5G.

Zixi is also featuring Amazon Prime Video (APV), its biggest reference customer on the OTT service front. APV is using these Wavelength capabilities to distribute thousands of soccer matches, with end-to-end control and visibility. The idea is that AWS infrastructure is deployed only when needed and released after each event is completed, to keep costs down.

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