Guest post by Richard Craig-McFeely, Global Business Development Director for Media Services, Tata Communications
When you take a look at a living room from the 1990s, the scene ostensibly remains the same: the lounge; a comfortable sofa with a footstool to put your feet up; an armchair; a coffee table; a rug. However here is where the similarities end, fast forward to 2014 and technology has not stood still. Your multimedia cupboard has more than likely turned into a digital, broadband powered, connected powerhouse with HD TV – or if you are lucky UltraHD TV.
In the 1990s, you might have been proud to show off your JVC MasterCommand Model C-2010 analogue TV; your shiny new Samsung Super VHS VCR and your impressive Sony HCD-XB6 music entertainment system. If you were lucky, you might have had cable TV, but the Internet was still a relatively unknown quantity, still in its infancy.
Today, we have access to hundreds of digital channels, or the option to craft channels based on our preferences using on-demand film libraries and catch-up TV services. You might be enjoying your favourite sports programme whilst sitting on your comfortable sofa and providing live commentary on the game on Twitter via your tablet.
Recent announcements indicate that the evolution won’t stop here; appliance manufacturers are starting to consider their customers’ needs beyond just apps and remote controls. Many companies will soon begin the war for the inter-connected home. Giants of the technology world, such as Google and LG, have already launched appliances with Android software and robotic devices. As a result, content consumption is changing beyond recognition.
Video explosion and rise in fibre
The figures are already staggering: in 2012, there were 755 million digital TV households; this is expected to increase to one billion in 2014. In 2013, 15 per cent of global TV channels were already HD, ten per cent of TV programmes were time shifted and recorded outside their scheduled time, and 80 per cent of connected TV owners regularly use apps. Video also made up a 36 per cent of total video traffic in 2013, which is expected to rise to a whopping 46 per cent by 2017 to over 23,600 Petabytes. To cope with this, the right infrastructure is needed to ensure consistency in quality and experience for the viewer.
The broadcast industry is moving towards fibre networks to deliver the highest quality live and file based video, securely and to numerous devices (televisions, tablets, smartphones and laptops). The secure and massive bandwidth provided by fibre enables broadcasters to effectively monetize their rights for live events (such as sports) and general entertainment content (such as major US series like Breaking Bad).
Video transcoding and delivery technology in the cloud is also making headway across TV production and distribution. For distribution it enables broadcasters to move content files to the cloud and transcode them into broadcast quality formats ready for immediate transmission and secure delivery to selected destinations. This means that it is possible to make authorised content available for simulcast across regions to reduce piracy.
The history is now
The way that we consume video content has changed hugely over the past decades, driven by the increase in quality, the proliferation of mobile devices, improved content delivery networks and changing broadcast models – with the Internet playing a key role in delivery and consumption.
We are in the HD era where consumer demand for quality, live content across different platforms is now the norm and with the emergence of bandwidth-hungry production workflows such as Ultra HD, quick turnarounds and availability of content across multiple platforms is becoming a hygiene factor for content owners. There is competitiveness in the market to provide media companies the ability to streamline their workflows to enable better collaboration, without large investments in hardware.
Our media future includes massive amounts of very high resolution video content offering people a high quality broadcast experience when and where they want it. Fibre sits at the heart of this future media world, enabling these complex processes and bringing content providers and the viewer’s safely through to 2020 and beyond.