Tata Deploys Net Insight Synchronized Live OTT Software

Indian Telco Tata Communications is launching a media ecosystem enabling global live OTT services, bringing synchronization between first and second screens and guaranteed low delay. The operator claims to be first in the world to offer a fully synchronized multiscreen OTT platform for service providers and content owners, enabling them to deliver video to all target devices simultaneously with no buffering.

To achieve this, Tata has become the first announced customer for recently launched OTT software from Swedish media distribution technology vendor Net Insight.

Tata is pitching at customers in three areas for its live platform, sports, news and gambling. “We have multiple proofs of concept ready and hope to have customers signed up within weeks,” said Brian Morris, VP and General Manager for Global Media and Enterprise Services at Tata’s technical arm. “We can now synchronize broadcast and OTT services worldwide with frame-accurate timing.”

Morris added that this avoids the variable delays on supposedly live internet feeds which has meant that say sports fans viewing online might be running up to 30 seconds or sometimes more behind a broadcast channel showing the same game. This can be an issue both for consumers at home and in sports bars when they hear a goal being cheered by someone watching on a different medium before that event has been streamed to the screen they are watching.

Tata’s first big proof of concept for its synchronized OTT platform came in September 2015 at the Singapore Grand Prix Formula One motor race, when the operator brought back video to Formula One’s technical headquarters at Biggin Hill in the UK. This came a year after Tata Communications claimed to have become the first operator to deliver a live 4K feed when it broadcast live footage from a practice session at the 2014 Singapore Grand Prix.

Brian Morris, Tata VP and General Manager for Global Media and Enterprise Services, expects customers for its synchronized IT offering within weeks.  <br />

Brian Morris, Tata VP and General Manager for Global Media and Enterprise Services, expects customers for its synchronized IT offering within weeks.

The footage in 2014 was delivered end-to-end over Tata Communications’ Global Video Connect Network and shown to a group of broadcasters. Now the synchronized OTT platform will operate over that same video network comprising 44 data centers around the world. The Net Insight software runs over this infrastructure, converting it effectively into a virtual CDN delivering synchronized content to all its end points, so that from there video can be broadcast and streamed simultaneously. The key point is the frame accurate synchronization, but also significant is that through its own optimized infrastructure combined with features of the Net Insight software, delay can also be kept to a minimum. This is especially important not just for live sports but also gaming, where the competitive advantage of a particular site is in providing punters with the feed from the event as early as possible. In gaming time literally is money.

However the Net Insight software cannot magically break the laws of physics and deliver content with the same minimal delay to all end points everywhere in the world, given the varying distances and transport delivery infrastructures involved, including perhaps satellite, fiber under the ground and wireless. This can mean actually slowing down the broadcast service in order to synchronize it with the online streams. But normally there is sufficient slack in the traditional broadcast latency budget to bring the online streams into line without having to slow anything down, according to Per Lindgren, Net Insight’s co-founder and Senior Vice President for Strategy and Business Development.

“We’re not trying to be real time, but to harmonize with existing satellite distribution,” said Lindgren. “The aim with satellite is to deliver within 8 to 12 seconds and with the delay resulting from video contribution and other upstream processes being typically around five seconds, we still have 3 to 7 seconds to play with for synchronization.”

The proof will be in the delivery and if this software really does guarantee OTT delivery worldwide, not just synchronized with the broadcast content but also with delay kept to 12 seconds, it will open up new revenue generating opportunities for content owners and broadcasters, around second screen integration and reaching globally dispersed diaspora for example.

Apart from Tata, Lindgren says Net Insight is targeting global CDN providers as customers for its software, as well as Tier 2 sporting events such as table tennis that could attract large aggregated global audiences attractive to advertisers of relevant products.

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