IBC 2014 Conference Preview: Creating an improved EPG through adaptive machine learning

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Q&A with Navneeth Kannan and Dinkar Bhat

 What are you going to discuss in your conference session at IBC 2014?

Navneeth Kannan (NK): We are presenting a method for a machine learning framework that simulates how we could develop a more personal viewing experience based on viewer behavior.

Video consumption behavior is evolving at a frenetic pace with the viewer freed from both the confines of the living room and the limits of traditional broadcast TV. While there have been advances in the user interface for over-the-top content, like catch-up and on-demand, interfaces for broadcast television need to catch up.

Consumer devices and network infrastructure have advanced to the point where channel navigation interfaces could, and should, be significantly improved from the traditional Electronic Program Guide (EPG). We believe we can harness the increased processing power of consumer devices to make machine learning techniques feasible.

You mention a machine learning framework. What does that mean?

Dinkar Bhat (DB): The adaptive user-interface takes advantage of content characteristics and viewership behavior based on the premise that though the number of channels available has increased, people are ultimately only interested in a certain number – i.e., we all have our favorite channels.

NK: The framework we’re putting forward allows for a platform that can accommodate multiple viewer profiles that orders channels based on the number of times a viewer opts for a channel and the amount of time spent once there. We’ve added in a few more factors with the ultimate aim to be able to learn viewer channel preference and even predict channel ranking for unwatched channels – something that could be done for alternative movie, sports or news channels for instance.

DB: We believe this adaptability is vital. Even if you have user interfaces that provide filtering features for large number of channels, they are not able to flex to changing user viewing patterns. 

Why are you recommending an alternative to the traditional grid-style Electronic Program Guide (EPG)?

DB: Program guides originated at a time when the number of broadcast channels was far fewer, and programming was limited to prime time. Newspapers and magazines published these guides as tabular grids, with channels listed as rows, time-slots listed in columns, and program information filling the cells.

The EPG came to replicate this structure, but as the number of channels vastly increased, this grid interface remained – despite developments in video delivery, the capabilities of set-tops and on-screen graphics, and that’s before we even begin to talk about metadata. Everything is still ordered by channel numbers, and that’s something we believe is far too limiting for today’s consumption habits.

Even recent advances at the headend that organize channels by genre are themselves still too rigid, in that they are unable to offer an experience personal to each viewer.

What benefits does machine learning have for broadcasters and service providers?

DB: This framework modernizes the EPG to bring a level of informed suggestion, flexibility and personalization to TV experience. By enabling better navigation, broadcasters and service providers can potentially benefit from an increased understanding of audience behaviour, which could be extended to create opportunities for targeted advertisements as well as cross-selling VOD or other high-value content.

It is also scalable and agile. Newer components can be added after initial development and deployment, making it possible to refine and optimize the navigation experience – something we think broadcasters and service providers will find valuable.

What are some ways to improve the user interface and make it more attractive to consumers?

NK: We believe that the user interface should be as streamlined as possible to let viewers get to the content they want to watch as quickly and easily as possible. Recent OTT players have made viewers increasingly accustomed to recommendation engines, and the framework we’re proposing speaks to that in a live broadcast sense. Viewers increasingly demand an immediacy with their technology, and having to scroll through over a list of a hundred unsorted channels makes little sense in this day and age.

Navneeth Kannan and Dinkar Bhat co-wrote “Adaptive Television User Interface using Machine Learning Concepts”, a paper that Navneeth will present at IBC 2014: Paper session: New consumer trends – the rise of social media and second screen technologies (11:30-13:00, September 12, 2014)

 

Labor Day + Buffer-free Binge Watching = Ultimate Staycation

Labor Day is right around the corner.

If you’re like us, that means extra time to kick back and relax… and binge-watch all the Netflix series you SBG6782-AC-heromissed over the summer.

We think every “staycation” deserves to be smooth and buffer-free. So along with popcorn, drinks, and BBQ, make sure to start your long weekend off right with our SURFboard® Internet solutions.

Our entire SURFboard line is dedicated to delivering fast and reliable Internet to your home, without the hassle of a lengthy or complicated installation. Tom Boshell, our Director of Global Retail Sales, recently covered the ARRIS Wi-Fi cable modem product collection in this video.

This weekend, we’re taking the labor out of Labor Day with our SURFboard collection. Find them at major retailers nationwide.

Happy Relaxing!

ARRIS Talks CCAP Migration @ Customer Leadership Forum

CCAP or Converged Cable Access Platform is paving the way for the industry’s migration towards a common video and data delivery platform.

CCAP is a hot topic at this week’s Customer Leadership Forum (CLF) for the Caribbean and Latin American(CALA) region. Mauricio Janisset, Staff Solutions Architect, mentioned in his talks this week that while CCAP defines a particular architecture, there are numerous ways to reach that converged endpoint.

The question remains: how will the industry implement CCAP?

The answer, of course, is multifaceted, but it’s important to understand that the CCAP initiative addresses a common and urgent need to enable more narrowcast QAM channels in a more dense and power-efficient footprint. Service providers with several CMTS and Edge QAM architectures rely on a range of technology suppliers and various service delivery goals—and their approaches to CCAP will vary accordingly. But while CCAP is a technology and an architecture, it is also an evolution…

Picking the right evolutionary path is critical not only for reaching the right destination, but also for ensuring that the journey matches your infrastructure, capabilities, and business requirements.

This has been the subject of many discussions in the context of CALA, this week, but for a more detailed look at CCAP considerations, check out this white paper from Tom Cloonan – our CTO, Network Solutions – and Todd Kessler – our VP Product Line Management.

NEW!: ARRIS nDVR report in conjunction with Videonet

vnnDVR is poised to be the next big thing for both viewers and service providers. Leveraging network capabilities to store content remotely, in the cloud, means no more running out of space, no more lost recordings, and new possibilities for multi-content, multiscreen and multi-room experiences.

ARRIS partnered with Videonet to produce a report that discusses the potential of nDVR and the impact it could have on Pay TV. The report also delves into the technical aspects that govern the successful delivery of nDVR, and the implications for advertising and monetization of content.

As the tipping point for any service is consumer demand, we believe that nDVR is ready for the mainstream as evidenced by the results of our recent Consumer Entertainment Index.  We saw that 64% of respondents would like an nDVR service to store their entertainment to overcome issues of limited space. For service providers, these results could well be a source of growth and competitive differentiation as a third said they would be prepared to pay for an nDVR service and 62% of those interested in nDVR would willingly be shown a few ads in exchange for a free storage solution to save their content.

Now is the time for service providers, content rights holders and advertisers to collaborate and set the right strategy to give consumers what they want, at the price they are willing to pay. The full report is available here.

If you’re interesting in learning more about our position on nDVR, visit ARRIS at IBC 2014 in Hall 1, Stand D31. (IBC 2014 – September 11-16, Amsterdam).

At A Glance: ARRIS Customer Leadership Forum in Miami

For the past seven years, we’ve held our annual Video Leadership Forum in Europe, but this year we’re excited to announce the launch of our Customer Leadership Forum (CLF) for the Caribbean and Latin America.

It’s only Day One here in Miami, and we’ve already shown a variety of game-changing demos and held sessions with industry’s leading futurists and technologists. We’re taking full advantage of this collaborative setting to hear from customers in one of the world’s fastest-growing regions for content delivery. The conversations we’re having at the forum are inspiring the way we invent the future of entertainment and communications in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Check out a few photos from this week’s event and be sure check our blog and to tune in on Twitter for live updates.

Top 5 Tech Articles You Might’ve Missed – Week of August 11, 2014

ARRIS’s NASCAR sponsorship announcement drove a great deal of interest this week!  Media outlets including Yahoo! Sports covered the news that ARRIS will sponsor two Joe Gibbs Racing team drivers, Carl Edwards and Daniel Suarez.

In industry coverage, Rapid TV News reported on a recent ABI Research market study looking at set top devices and home networks. Editors called-out ARRIS as a “clear winner” in the set top market.

Broadband Technology Report covered SCTE’s continued progress toward creating new standards and best practices for energy management and network operations.

Multichannel News shared that ad viewing in TV Everywhere environments is still on the upswing, citing FreeWheel’s latest Video Monetization Report.

And finally, FierceCable posted about a report from Parks Associates, noting that analysts expect 80% of consumers to have a 4K viewing device in the next 10 to 12 years.

Do you agree with this 4K adoption rate? Let us know at @ARRISEVERYWHERE – we’d love to hear from you. And, be sure to check back next week for the latest industry news.

  1. ARRIS to sponsor NASCAR’s Carl Edwards (Aug. 20) By Phil W. Hudson, Atlanta Business Chronicle: ARRIS will be the primary sponsor of NASCAR’s number 19 Carl Edwards for 17 races in the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Joe Gibbs, founder and owner of Joe Gibbs Racing, said in addition to sponsoring Edwards, ARRIS will also share a vision with Carlos Slim Domit and Escuderia TELMEX to develop Mexican and Latin American drivers in NASCAR.
  2. STB market grows with ARRIS leading the pack (Aug. 21) By Michelle Clancy, Rapid TV News: According to ABI Research, most manufacturers saw similar sales, with a few notable exceptions. ARRIS came in a clear winner, growing about 60% year-over-year to $711 million (pro-forma based on the combined ARRIS-Motorola from the start of 2013).
  3. SCTE Busy on the Standards Front (Aug. 20) By BTR Staff, Broadband Technology Report: The SCTE announced continued progress in the creation of standards and best practives for energy management and network operations, as well as the availability of three standards sessions at Cable-Tec Expo 2014.
  4. TV Everywhere Ad Views Surge In Q2: FreeWheel (Aug. 14) By Jeff Baumgartner, Multichannel News: TV Everywhere apps are still disjointed in terms of the content offered and what’s accessible to viewers in or out of the home, but advertising views in the still nascent segment continue to climb all the same.
  5. Making 4K a reality (Aug. 18) By Sue Marek, FierceCable: 4K is the next-generation of high definition TV with four times the resolution of current HD screens. Unlike 3D, which failed to take off due to multiple technical hurdles, many expect 4K to blossom and become the next step in the high-definition migration path.
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