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How live 4K streaming points way to OTT sports

Chris Wagner

Chris Wagner

Guest post by Chris Wagner, Executive VP Marketplace strategy at NeuLion

Though consumer adoption of Ultra HD (UHD) TV screens is on the rise, lack of content is still a massive issue for 4K.

At the same time, consumer demand for live sports streaming is increasing with operators such as BeINSport, ESPN and Univision succeeding in emerging markets including the Middle East and Latin America. We believe that 4K streaming of live sports can enable pure OTT players to gain traction and allow broadcasters streaming 4K to address cord cutting and falling pay TV subscriptions.

The first live streaming of a National Basketball Association (NBA) match in 4K, which NeuLion streamed from the O2 Arena in London to the NBA executive offices in New York City on a large-screen UHD TV connected to a PC, demonstrated that existing technology can enable the content industry to offer amazing Ultra HD sports experiences.

We believe that 4K is ideal for sports video because it presents consumers with extremely rich, vivid imagery that more closely matches the experience of actually being at a live sporting event. It also gives service providers an engaging way to competitively differentiate their packages. However, streaming content in 4K across continents is not smooth sailing. The capture, encoding and delivery are all hurdles to be cleared before providing 4K on the end user’s screen.

The first challenge of 4K is to send the larger video through the open Internet. Using state of the art HEVC (H.265) compression enables viable bitrates while still maintaining the increased quality of 4K. Another challenge is adding 4K could be an operational nightmare with yet more formats and variants. Our use of open and flexible DASH specifications ensures less format variants, which leads to operational efficiency in production and delivery. We ensure all components in the stream’s journey are compatible.

We believe that this new generation of end-to-end solutions will enable operators to rapidly deploy sports streaming experiences in 4K, opening the door to the large-scale adoption of UHD video experiences.

NeuLion will demonstrate how its product portfolio enables sports leagues and content providers to stream live sports experiences in 4K OTT to consumer devices at TV Connect in London on April 28-30 (stand #111).

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