Ian Chin, Chief Operating Officer of China’s BesTV New Media (a subsidiary of Shanghai New Media), on the distinctive features of smart cloud networks and services, the role they can play as a differentiator for TV delivery, and his plans to get more involved in CDN playout services.
What is the “smart cloud”, as opposed to the “dumb cloud”?
In media or television terms, the term “Smart Cloud” refers to a centrally-managed infrastructure designed to serve media distribution globally via IP. BesTV’s cloud infrastructure can be considered a Smart Cloud for a variety of reasons.
It is a centralised Media Asset Management System which not only archives and manages content, but also assists in the editing and censoring stages, as well as subtitling to suit the different markets.
It also has an open API for content pulling and sourcing for the specific market it is built for. For instance, our Hong Kong Cloud will be able to serve all content coming into Asia and also push content to our services in North America.
The BesTV cloud infrastructure also offers a content protection system and digital rights management to allow content to be distributed through the open internet, and can send content to different devices, making it more flexible for content distribution to smartphones, tablets and Smart TVs.
What role can the cloud play as a differentiator in TV service delivery?
The “Cloud Play” as BesTV termed it goes beyond delivering linear TV or VOD – it also manages the whole content ecosystem. It will target Cloud Gaming, which we have launched in China using our Android box. As Smart TVs get more powerful, we will also be able to deliver similar gaming services to these devices.
On top of that, shopping services which are integrated with mobile services will be another interesting feature. And finally, TV payment services to settle bills and pay for services can be an added advantage: all these are already launched in our service, with a good response from gadget savvy users.
Another aspect to differentiate will be the quality of the service. Our service now can deliver high-quality content like 3D NBA games, Blu-Ray quality movies, and Dolby Surround Sound, making it much more powerful than any DTH service or IPTV.
How can TV operators improve their propositions by partnering with content delivery networks?
TV has transcended to IP and this is an important milestone or a paradigm shift, so TV companies have to learn to evolve. Simply buying content delivery network (CDN) services is not the best solution – in fact, we have to look beyond buying CDN services.
At BesTV, we are looking at more involvement in the CDN playout. This is an important step for us to keep the cost down. That is why partnering with telcos or ISPs is an important strategy for us.
How does BesTV plan to assimilate the threat posed by over-the-top video services?
OTT is already here, it will stay and it will compete with traditional media.
The most important element to be a successful OTT player is the content spectrum, so at BesTV we are lucky to own more than 500,000 hours of content, and with our OTT technology, distribution and partnerships, we are a major player in the market.
We welcome other players, but it is going to be a tough battle, just like the time of the dotcom boom. We have gained an enormous amount of experience here, and with our OTT platform and distribution, we are confident that we are capable of changing consumer habits.