Category: IP-based broadcasting

You can start and stop Google Chromecast with your TV’s remote

Articles

You Can Now Control Your Chromecast With A Normal TV Remote | Gizmodo

Chromecast now works with your TV’s remote control | Medium

You Can Now Play Or Pause Chromecast Videos With Your TV’s Remote | Lifehacker

My Comments

This can now control your Chromecast

This can now control your Chromecast

The $49 Google Chromecast dongle is able to stream from your smartphone, tablet or computer to your HDMI-equipped TV or projector via your Wi-Fi-equipped home network.

The HDMI specification includes HDMI-CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) functionality, typically presented by equipment manufacturers under their own marketing names like Anynet+, VIERA Link, BRAVIA Link and REGZA Link. Here, this allows for “one-touch start” where a Blu-Ray player or similar device wakes up the TV and, where applicable, home-theatre amplifier, and selects the input it is connected to while the source device prepares to play. Similarly, it allows for “one remote control” operation of multiple video devices such as to use your TV’s remote control to navigate the menus on a DVD that is in a separate Blu-Ray player that is connected to the TV, another way to simplify how your AV setup is operated.

The Google Chromecast had a basic level of HDMI-CEC functionality where it can wake up your HDMI-CEC-capable TV and amplifier and select the input it is connected to if you start streaming through the Chromecast with your phone or computer. This reduced the confusion associated with operating it somewhat.

But, thanks to a new firmware update, you can start and stop your Chromecast content using the play and pause buttons on your TV’s remote control. This includes the ability to pause content using the TV’s remote control and resume it with the device you are streaming it from or vice versa. This can come in handy where you just want to use the device nearest to you to pause it or get it going quickly.

Google could see more potential with HDMI-CEC and the Chromecast. For eample, they could exploit the remote control’s D-Pad as a way of navigating onscreen menus or “paging through” photos in a collection for example. It could also give the likes of Apple something to worry about as HDMI-CEC becomes a desireable feature for platform-based set-top devices.

4K UHDTV to benefit from the UK pay-TV battleground

Article

Expect Sky and BT to launch new 4K boxes sooner rather than later | Engadget

Sky accelerates new set-top box launch | The Telegraph (UK)

My Comments

4K UHDTV - part of the UK pay-TV battleground

4K UHDTV – part of the UK pay-TV battleground

The UK pay-TV battleground between Virgin, BT and Sky, is to benefit the 4K UHDTV technology with BT and Sky offering an IP-linked set-top box that will yield 4K content as part of their service.

This is because BT is stepping in to the battleground when it comes to broadcast rights for UK and European football (soccer) matches and 4K UHDTV will become a bargaining chip whenever the rights are being renegotiated. It is also about keeping the subscriber base alive through and beyond the footie season especially as 4K UHDTV-capable sets start to come in to price ranges that most can think about.

Both the companies will deliver the 4K UHDTV services via Internet with the use of 4K-capable set-top boxes that are connected to the home network and Internet service. These companies are also on about offering the services as a multi-play “eggs in one basket” package with pay-TV and fixed broadband Internet along with, perhaps, fixed-line telephony and a mobile telecommunications service. The 4K technology will be seen more as a subscription driver for these multi-play services.

They are also factoring in multi-room and multi-screen viewing so you can view the TV content on devices like your regular computer or your tablet.

Sky’s imminent 4K-capable set-top will be seen as a way to stave off them shedding subscribers due to loss of Champions League footie broadcasts. This is while BT is intending to have 4K on BT Sport within months with the provision of a new set-top in UK Spring that will be augmented with a heavy marketing push. Let’s not forget that Virgin Media, UK’s cable-TV service, is not taking this lying down. They are trialling a 4K UHDTV service with an intent to put 4K down the cable.

Brits will have to eventually consider implementing a wired backbone along with their Wi-Fi network as this momentum becomes strong with the competing pay-TV providers. This will most likely mean looking towards HomePlug AV500 or HomePlug AV2 which uses the existing ring main that delivers the household electricity as the “wired no-new-wires” data backbone.

How is the Internet affecting Pay TV?

Articles

Pay TV market becoming more segmented; service providers can take advantage | V-Net

My Comments

The connected home and ubiquitous Internet access is placing the traditional Pay-TV marketplace at a crossroads. More and more people are using tablets and laptop computers to view content that is streamed from the Internet when they want to view it in a personal setting while TVs and video peripherals like Blu-Ray players are serving as integrated endpoints for viewing various Internet-hosted video services.

Here, a few content packages with many channels that is delivered by the service provider’s own infrastructure and viewed via equipment supplied by that provider doesn’t cut it anymore. In North America especially, where the customer deals with pay-TV providers who primarily offer a content-carriage service, younger people are “cutting the cord” on pay-TV service and watching either over-the-air content or content delivered “over-the-top” by independent “over-the-top” TV services like Netflix.

The traditional pay-TV companies are having to take a few different paths to gain and retain customers.

Service offerings

TV Everywhere

This is sold in conjunction with a traditional pay-TV service like Sky Go or Foxtel Go but has the content delivered over “two paths” – the traditional cable or satellite infrastructure along with the Internet. This is primarily to allow the customers to view the same content on their computers or their mobile devices.

Typically this is furnished using an app or Web page for most desktop and mobile computing platforms where you can watch the content, and you typically authenticate with the service provider by providing your account details to that app. Some providers may allow you to view this content only in your own home while others may allow you to view it anywhere in the country that they operate in. Some of these services may offer a “download now, view later” option where you can download content to view at a later date especially if you may be in a position where you don’t have reliable Internet access.

Over-The-Top Pay TV

Another direction is to provide an “over-the-top” pay-TV service like NOW TV or Foxtel Play which works with your computer, tablet, games console of the XBox One or PlayStation 4 kind, Smart TV or similar device. These services are typically provisioned over the Internet without the need for a set-top box to be delivered to you and provide for increased package flexibility.

For example, they are provided by-the-month rather than on a multi-month long-term contract and allow for increased segmentation of content. In this case, we are starting to see the availability of separately-branded “lightweight” or “budget” content packages pitched at this form of delivery or for people to choose packages based on a personally-selected mix of genres or other factors that appeal to them.

On-demand content

The pay-TV provider is now entering a position to run an Internet-based on-demand content service which has a larger content library than what was available on their “video-on-demand” or “pay-per-view” services that were furnished via their traditional cable or satellite infrastructure.

They can offer these services to their existing customer base as an adjunct to the pay-TV services that they are offering or simply provide them to other people as a standalone “over-the-top” service. The former setup will typically have a “download-to-view” component for customers who use a PVR-type set-top box like a Foxtel iQ2 where the show would be downloaded to the device’s hard disk for later viewing.

Other offerings

Another service that could be evolved would be the so-called “multi-room” or “multi-screen” options which are typically offered by some pay-TV providers on a “per-room” basis. In a lot of cases, this could encompass an integrated TV Everywhere service.

Thanks to DLNA’s VidiPath technology which I covered previously, they could be offered simply as a “per-household” basis which or even as part of the regular content package for a regular pay-TV service. It could mean that the extra TV would be equipped with a Blu-Ray player, network media player or games console that is VidiPath-certified while the main DVR-equipped set-top box is a VidiPath content server. TV manufacturers could even roll out Smart TVs that have this feature. Not sure if you have such equipment? The pay-TV provider could sell a cost-effective VidiPath-certified network media player to connect to your regular TV and home network to benefit from this service.

Trends

But why are they offering these services?

Young people and the connected lifestyle

One reason is to court the younger consumers who are Internet-focused and device-agnostic. Here, they see the large-screen TV serving as a display for other devices like games consoles or Blu-Ray players; or they see regular and mobile computer equipment as something they can watch video content on.

As well, they live on the Internet with a desire to have their video-content viewing linked with other interactive activity. For example, they want to use the Social Web or online knowledgebases in conjunction with what they are viewing. As well, we are living a time-poor lifestyle where we wouldn’t have time to spend on poor-quality TV content.

The traditional pay-TV business model that is focused around dedicated infrastructure and the set-top box doesn’t cater for this readily especially as Internet-based technology marches on very quickly. A

Content providers are offering “direct-to-consumer” packages

In North America particularly, content providers who used to provide their TV content via a pay-TV service are now offering their content on a “direct-to-consumer” basis. This is following trends in other industries where product manufacturers and distributors are setting up online and other storefronts to provide their wares direct to the consumer in addition to having retailers sell them.

This has come about due to the “cord-cutting” trend that is occurring there, along with an increasing number of situations where a content provider who had pay-TV presence across the whole of the US is not likely to have this same level of presence. The latter situation has been brought about due to arguments and fights between the content provider and the cable-TV or satellite-TV provider about content-licensing terms.

Conclusion

I reckon that as the bandwidth improves, it could be come another path for delivering multichannel TV content in a highly-flexible cost-effective manner. Let’s hope it doesn’t become “101 channels and nothing on” – many channels and content providers that provide nothing but worthless content.

FCC intends to place over-the-top Internet TV on a par with cable TV

Article

FCC Moves to Give Internet Video Same Rights as Cable Co’s | Broadband News and DSL Reports

From the horse’s mouth

US Federal Communications Commission

Tech Transitions – Video And Future (Blog Post)

My Comments

The recent US Supreme Court decision against Aereo has shown up how facilities-based multichannel TV providers i.e. cable and satellite TV providers have the upper hand with negotiating access to content offered by the Hollywood studios and sports leagues.

But the FCC are considering allowing “over-the-top” Internet TV providers access to this same content on a par with the likes of Comcast and DirecTV. This is also in response to the fact that many American TV viewers are ending up with cable or satellite TV packages full of content they don’t want i.e. “57 channels and nothing on”.

The issue with the current situation is that Internet-based “over-the-top” TV providers aren’t placed on an equal footing to the big cable-TV providers. This is similar to how the US Congress passed laws requiring satellite TV providers like DirecTV and DISH to have access to the channels on an equal footing to cable-TV providers and this opened the doors to competition.

The opportunities provided by the Internet-based “over-the-top” services are many including the ability to provide TV content packages that are pitched at niche markets in a cost-effective manner. This includes providers that could focus on foreign-language content, wholesome family-friendly programming, and content pitched at expatriates. As well, it opens up the concept of increased carriage-service competition which can increase viewer choice and, hopefully, access to what the viewer really wants.

There is also the concept of taking a “technology-neutral” approach which also allows pay-TV companies and content providers to use a choice of technology to distribute the TV content to the end-user. This means that the likes of HBO, CBS, Comcast and co to implement Internet-based approaches thus increasing reach to a wider market. There is also the hope that this approach will heat up the demand for next-generation broadband through the US and increase the average bandwidth that Americans can enjoy.

For this to work, the FCC need to pass these rules without being sabotaged by Big Money. which is a problem that still dogs American politics.

Dolby to provide a personal soundtrack for sporting and cultural events

Article

Dolby’s vision for the living room includes abundant audio options | Engadget

My Comments

Most of us who watch sports have a preference for a personalised audio experience during these events. For example, a common method of enjoying cricket in Australia is to have the TV’s volume turned down and the ABC radio commentary playing on the radio or hi-fi. This is due to “cutting out” the TV advertising as well as listening to cricket commentators who know what they are talking about.

Similarly, I have watched the Tour De France on SBS and do enjoy the English-language commentary that is provided but have had a taste of the French commentary when there was a technical mishap and would appreciate that, due to my knowledge of the language. Sometimes, a simple “music-and-effects” soundtrack for a royal wedding or similar public ceremony may suffice as the audio experience rather than what some might see as a “slanted” commentary.

Dolby is putting forward the idea of a highly-personalised soundtrack for sporting, cultural and other live events that can include one or more different commentary streams along with, for example, effects or other “event-driven” sounds that follow something like a social-media stream. This can be derived from “existing infrastructure” like broadcast commentary, or IP (the Internet) which could be something like an alternative radio or TV commentary or a “text-to-speech” of Twitter comments from your friends.

Of course, they say that it could require additional hardware at the broadcaster’s and consumer’s side for this to work but a lot of smart-TV and set-top-box platforms that have an Internet connection of some sort could adapt to this easily through a firmware update or the delivery of an app.

This application for interactive TV could be a godsend to those of us who love our sporting and cultural events our way.

Sony PlayStation to follow the same path as Netflix

Article

Sony’s first original TV series for PlayStation will be ‘Powers’ | The Verge

My Comments

First it was Netfilx with “House Of Cards” and “Lilyhammer”. Now it’s Sony’s turn to yield an original TV series to be delivered via the Internet and the home network.

“Powers”, to be distributed in the USA via the Sony PlayStation Network to the PS4, is a bridge between a classic “police procedural” crime drama, a filme noir, and a fantasy movie. For people outside the US, TV broadcasters will be able to buy the rights to screen this show on their channels. Here, it is proving to TV producers, directors and consumers that a company who has their foot in the IPTV or video-on-demand space can commission original programming for these services rather than using them as distribution services for other people’s content.

This is similar to how cable evolved in the early 80s when the likes of HBO started producing their own content, running it on their own channels but also selling the rights for these shows to various broadcasters who wanted to run them. Similarly Canal+ have been building up a large collection of TV content that they run on their services but also are selling the rights for the content to free-to-air and pay-TV channels that run foreign-language content like SBS in Australia.

Sony are also capitalising on the fact that the PS4 games console, like its PS3 predecessor and the XBox competitors, is not just a games console but rather an “entertainment console” which is also about playing video content. For example, I have seen a young adult purposing a PS3 not just for playing games but to be used also as a Blu-Ray player. Here, Sony are running an IPTV service that will be delivered exclusively via the PS4 games console alongside the video-on-demand offerings provided through the PlayStation Network.

With Sony, Netflix, Hulu and other Internet-based TV providers, it could become an easy way in for TV producers and directors to put up content ideas or the content itself to these companies for commissioning. These stakeholders can also benefit from the ability to know whether these shows are being downloaded and what kind of viewers are downloading them so as to avoid turning out rubbishy content.

Netflix–evolving to the online TV station

Article

What happens at Netflix when House of Cards goes live | Marketplace Business

From the horse’s mouth

Netflix

Netflix official logo - courtesy of NetflixPress Release

My Comments

I have given some space to Netflix in relation to its new direction as an IPTV channel in the US. Initially this name was an Internet-assisted mail-order DVD-rental business thriving in the USA – the hub of “mail order business”.

Now, this network was moving towards streaming existing content and building up partnerships with various companies associated with the online entertainment business. Here, this led towards cost-effective access to the good TV shows in so much that a lot of American households were “cutting the cord” – breaking off cable-TV service.

As well, Netflix had started to create their own TV content with shows like “House Of Cards” and “Lilyhammer”, In the case of “Lilyhammer” which I have watched when it ran on SBS in Australia, this involved the idea of coproducing this show with Norway’s national public TV broadcaster which I have seen as a big feat for a young online TV station.

This article shows how Netflix is handling the launch of the second series of “House Of Cards” and were seeing it like a “war-room” where they were monitoring who was “cottoning on” to it immediately it was launched. Here, they were able to get a granular view on what was being watched by whom using which kind of devices thus using it as a way to work out what kind of content to put their money towards.

I see this as a new approach to TV content creation and distribution where it is feasible to determine whether shows of a kind are appealing to which people so they can target certain viewer classes more easily using characteristics like “happy ending” or “cerebral qualities”. This is in contrast to standard ratings setups like Nielsens or OzTAM which yield more coarse data about viewership.

As well, identifying viewership practices like “binge-watching” have allowed Netflix to place that risk of planting all of the second-series episodes of “House Of Cards” online rather than letting each episode appear week by week as the normal TV practice prefers.

It is showing that Netflix with its “House Of Cards” TV show is highlighting what the IPTV scene is capable of and is to be about. This is where the technologies that are in place are about exactly identifying what the service’s market wants to watch and providing the content that suits this particular market.

Netflix to test 4K UHDTV content

Articles

Netflix starts testing 4K content with batch of public videos | Digital Trends

Netflix begins testing 4K video with goal of 2014 launch | Slashgear

Netflix posts 4K test video to streaming service as it prepares for planned 2014 launch | Gigaom

Netflix testing Ultra High Definition video ready for launch next year | Engadget

My Comments

As the price for 4K UHDTV sets becomes cheaper, it may hit the point were you may be considering buying one of these as the main-lounge-area TV. But the question that will be asked is what content will be available that is natively in this resolution rather than having the set upscale 1080p content?

At the moment, Sony is offering a media player and “download-to-own” content from some of their movie catalogue but this is focused towards those of us who purchased Sony 4K sets. Similarly, there is a European trial for broadcasting 4K content using satellite TV. But the reality is that most of this content will be streamed or downloaded via next-generation broadband and a sufficiently-fast home network.

This has been underscored with Netflix offering a trial service where they provide some test and demonstration footage in 4K UHDTV resolution. This company, known as a “gold standard” for providing “over-the-top” on-demand movie and TV content, are planning to have a full commercial service with real content up and running by 2014.

Netflix’s top brass want to become a key supplier of 4K content as the technology matures and these sets become commonplace. But customers will need to implement next-generation broadband or a premium broadband package with high bandwidth along with a home network that runs with Gigabit Ethernet, HomePlug AV2 or 802.11ac Wi-Fi in order for this service to work properly. For them, any shows that they commission like “House Of Cards” or “Lilyhammer” could be mastered in 4K UHDTV and then delivered as 4K UHDTV content as an option.

Of course, people who use computers with 1080p Full HD monitors or “Retina” displays will benefit from the high resolution, which could be a way to taste the ultra-high-resolution content offered in the demo footage.

YouTube to add offline viewing to mobile apps

Article

Train Commuters Rejoice: YouTube Adding Offline Viewing to Apps – Streaming Media Magazine

My Comments

Most of us who want to use our smartphones or tablets to view video content “on the road” may be either using a low-allowance mobile data plan or travelling through areas where Internet access isn’t guaranteed. Examples of this may include underground (subway) trains, air travel or long-distance train travel. As well, you may be using a Wi-Fi-only device like low-tier tablets or MP3 players.

Google have revised the iOS and Android YouTube apps to allow you to download video content for later viewing. These apps will keep the content of 48 hours but it would come in handy when you are “loading up” with content at your home network or public-access Wi-Fi network before you set off.

I see this as being commensurate with Google’s new direction for YouTube where they want to use this service for hosting content that is beyond cat videos. The catch-up and on-demand TV services could follow this line so as to increase their utility to travellers who want to catch up with favourite TV serials.

Similarly, Google could release an official YouTube app with this function for the regular-computer platforms as well as other mobile platforms like Windows Phone 8 so as to court users who use Ultrabooks or Nokia Lumia phines for this purpose.

Time Warner Cable to be the first US cable company to move away from the traditional cable box to an IP-based setup

Article

Time Warner Cable will let you junk your set-top box next year | Internet & Media – CNET News

My Comments

Since the late 1980s, the American cable-TV industry had relied on the provision of a set-top box that they lease to customers as a way to control the business relationship. This was even though since the start of that decade, most “brown-goods” companies sold TVs and video-recorders with “cable-ready” tuners that can be directly connected to a cable-TV service.

The consumer-electronics industry and related press had been crying foul that the cable companies were effectively controlling their customers and these customers couldn’t gain access to desireable functions that the devices offered like picture-in-picture or improved remote controls. As well, the cable companies have required that customers use these set-top boxes for advanced services like pay-per-view TV and have supplied set-top boxes which are PVRs. Even the CableCARD technology which was to put more power in the customers’ hands has been met with frustration such as requiring a truck-roll for the installation of this equipment even though it could be supplied as a self-install kit.

A trend that is breaking through and affecting pay-TV is to use the home network to distribute the content to the display device. The need to bring this about was driven by the popularity of the Apple iPad and other tablet computers being used to personally view video content and these devices had effectively become an alternative to the old portable TV with the 12”-14” screen. The cable industry was also facing the reality of American households “cutting the cord” i.e. abandoning cable TV service and watching their video content either from free-to-air TV or online video services like Netflix and Hulu.

This has been aggravated through the availability of devices like multimedia-capable games consoles, Blu-Ray players and network video players that work as front-ends for the online video services.

In Australia, Foxtel woke up by providing IP-hosted pay-TV under the Foxtel Play / Foxtel Go banners where people just used particular games consoles, smart TVs, regular computers or mobile devices to watch Foxtel pay TV via the Internet.

Now Time Warner Cable have allowed a person who signs up to a “double-play” package of Internet and cable-TV with them to dispense with their set-top box if they use a Roku or XBox 360 to watch the TV content. This is starting to appear also as a trend amongst other US pay-TV firms and is overcoming various hurdles and requirements like closed-captioning, emergency alerts and “delay-to-the-gate” blackouts for sports broadcasts.

Here, these services may be offered as the “value option” for households who don’t need the PVR-capable set-top box whereas the PVR is offered for the packages with “all the fruit”. These packages would also integrate the IP-based functionality with, perhaps, support for network viewing of PVR-hosted content.

Personally, I would also see this evolve to other common platforms like the PlayStation 3 and the smart-TV / Blu-Ray-player platforms that the likes of Samsung, Sony and Panasonic are building up. It could end up as a chance for the cable industry to construct packages tariff charts and service options that exploit the capabilities of these IP-based setups.