Top 5 Tech Articles You Might’ve Missed – Week of April 14, 2014

This week, industry coverage looked to the future of television, including 4K, 8K and HEVC. While many in the industry are anxiously awaiting the arrival of 4K, TechHive reported that 8K broadcasts could reach homes in 2020. Such high-resolution video will require efficient encoding and transmitting, and Broadband TV News wrote that HEVC Version 1 has achieved more than 50% bitrate savings compared to MPEG 4 AVC/H.264.

From an industry perspective, TechZone360 shared that the rapid growth in multiscreen video content and increasing options in video processing workflow are impacting the transition to the cloud. Additionally, Rapid TV News covered research from Strategy Analytics projecting pay IPTV will continue to be a bright spot in the US pay-TV market with a compound annual growth rate of 8.3% through 2019.

Finally, MediaDailyNews shared that nearly 90% of worldwide adult TV viewing continues to be live, although new TV-video platforms are gaining steam.

Check back next week for the latest industry news.

  1. I’m OK, you’re… 8K? 8K broadcasts coming in 2020 (April 14) By Susie Ochs, TechHive: “I dunno, that 4K TV just doesn’t have enough pixels,” said no one ever. But that isn’t stopping the march of progress—8K resolution is coming. Just not for a little while, and with plenty of technical hurdles to clear along the way.
  2. HEVC demonstrates its high efficiency (April 16) By Donald Koeleman, Broadband TV News: HEVC Version 1 demonstrates it has achieved more than 50% bitrate savings compared to MPEG 4 AVC/H.264, the MPEG standards group announced following its 108th meeting held at the beginning of April in Valencia, Spain.
  3. In a Multiscreen World, Cloud-Based Video Processes Come to the Fore (April 17) By Tara Seals, TechZone360: The business of broadcast is like any other enterprise vertical, in that the rise of mobility, social enablement and all-digital, all-IP transactions are creating a level of complexity hitherto unknown.
  4. Pay-TV to return to growth in 2014 (April 16) By Michelle Clancy, Rapid TV News: The US pay-TV market looks set to turn around a loss in total subscribers in 2013 to growth by the end of 2014, research from Strategy Analytics suggests.
  5. Most TV Viewing Still Live, But Streaming, Video Gains Popularity (April 16) By Wayne Friedman, MediaDailyNews: From a new poll of 15,551 adults in 20 countries, Ipsos OTX says 86% of respondents watch traditional live TV, with 27% streaming/downloading TV/video via computer; 16% are streaming Internet video to TV; 16% are using DVR/recording devices to view; and 11% watching on mobile.

A Look Inside ARRIS @ NAB

More than 90,000 attendees descended on the Las Vegas Convention Center to hear about the future of content at the NAB Show. ARRIS is leading that conversation with demos that offer a glimpse of the many technologies driving the evolution of TV — from multiscreen digital rights management to UltraHD pathways, personalized ad insertion, and solutions that address the industry’s most influential trends.

In case you weren’t able to attend the show, we’ve provided a snapshot of our booth and a few of the demos shown.

The State of 4K/Ultra HD

Dr. Sean McCarthy, Ph.D., Fellow of the Technical Staff, ARRIS

Next week, the industry will discuss the future of content delivery at NAB. I’ll be participating in a seminar examining how new dimensions in video technology will impact the business of video distribution.  It’s hard to discuss this topic without hitting on 4K (also called Ultra HD or UHD) and its ramifications for the industry.

Last year, I wrote this column on what’s next for Ultra HD. My points about the phased approach to implementation still apply, but as this topic continues to heat up, I think it’s a good time for an update on where 4K is today and how it is shaping the roll-out on a global scale…

The 15-year plateau of HDTV is undergoing a dramatic change thanks to HEVC and UHD.

Here is some quick background: Ultra HD represents a truly new era of television beyond HD. It refers to higher 4k resolution (3840×2160), but also involves higher frame rates, higher dynamic range, and better color. And consumers will soon see new programming broadcast in 4K, starting with the 2014 FIFA World Cup Finals. Furthermore, the Japanese and Korean governments are driving 4K and 8K video transmission trials for this year as well.

So, Ultra HD is very different from HD, and it’s already here in some respects.

Many of us at ARRIS believe that UHD should be considered a roadmap for improving TV in the years to come. We also believe that the underlying HEVC standard that makes 4K content possible on today’s networks is also what will enable many of these improved TV experiences.

HEVC is two times as effective as the current H.264 standard and has the potential to cut bandwidth costs in half. It will even enable telco providers to extend their reach over current DSL networks.

With that in mind, the phased approach to UHD that I mentioned earlier is likely to follow these four steps:

  1. High-efficiency path using HEVC to improve bandwidth economics for HD services. This will enable ubiquitous OTT services for media gateways, Internet-attached 4K displays and HD and 4K tablets and smartphones.
  2. Cinematic track that would support “optimized-for-4K” HD encoding. In other words, HEVC will provide a pathway to true 4K content at 24 and 30 frames per second. “Optimized for 4K” HD encoding would imply near-pristine HD content that looks great when upsampled on a 4K display. But, it leverages HEVC to fit in the same bandwidth as HD content compressed with today’s MPEG4/H.264.
  3. HEVC becomes more attractive to sports programmers. These programmers will emphasize frame rate over resolution to deliver 1080p HD at 60 frames per second, and later at 120 frames per second. All while providing a pathway to true 4K at 60 frames per second.
  4. HEVC becomes that much more attractive to all service providers. They will use enhanced efficiency of HEVC to deliver traditional HD services while freeing up bandwidth for UHD and data services.
  5. Ultimately, HEVC opens the door for content and service providers to deliver better consumer experiences without breaking the bandwidth bank.

I hope that you can join me, Kevin Wirick, and Hugo Gaggioni, Sony CTO for Broadcast and Production Systems, and others at NAB in exploring this topic as well as the trends and technologies that will determine the future of video delivery networks.

Join my seminar, Wednesday April 9th @ 10am PT in the Las Vegas Convention Center, Room S219 “Creating Value in MultiScreen and Ultra HDTV” to learn more.

Top 5 Tech Articles You Might’ve Missed – Week of March 17, 2014

This week, we attended London’s TV Connect and China’s Content Broadcasting Network (CCBN) conferences to discuss the latest innovations in technology, from challenges and solutions in connected entertainment to trends in broadcasting video. Advanced Television shared the news that Maxisat selected our GT-3 Multiple Bitrate (MBR) Transcoder to deliver an efficient and reliable video transcoding solution to international service providers, which is significant given that Multichannel News discussed the increase in demand for multi-service video gateways.

The advancements in technology and global capacity for engagement have also increased the need for efficiency and a swift response. To ensure a reliable Wi-Fi connection, Time Warner Cable recently deployed ARRIS WorkAssure Field Management platform, highlighted by CED Magazine, to schedule and manage its service appointments with real-time updates.

In other news, a report from PC Magazine states that people are not ready to “cut the cord” on pay TV for Internet services like Netflix, Hulu Plus or Amazon Instant Video. While new research shows a decline in multi-channel video providers, that decrease is only about 0.1 percent from last year. Finally, Forbes discussed the relevance of 4K across screens stating, “4K will bring real benefits to end users” and noted that the technology should become the standard in the industry.

Make sure to check back next week for the latest news in cable.

  1. Maxisat picks ARRIS to power content hub (March 19) By Colin Mann, Advanced Television: Maxisat, a provider of managed and operated Multiscreen TV services, has selected the GT-3 Multiple Bitrate (MBR) Transcoder by ARRIS Group as the default transcoder for the international expansion of its Content Hub – an integral component of its end-to-end multiscreen video solution, Maxicaster.
  2. Set-Top Market Slumps In 2013: Infonetics (March 16) By Jeff Baumgartner, Multichannel News: The traditional set-top box sector slumped in 2013, but suppliers have reason for hope as shipments of multi-service video gateways continue to skyrocket, Infonetics Research reported in its latest report on the set-top market.
  3. Arris’ WorkAssure clocks in on Time Warner Cable’s one-hour service windows (March 18) By Mike Robuck, CED Magazine: In an effort to provide its subscribers with a better customer experience, Time Warner Cable has deployed Arris’ WorkAssure Field Management platform to help schedule one-hour service appointments by its technicians. By using WorkAssure, Time Warner Cable can schedule and manage its service appointments with real-time updates.
  4. Very Few People Ditched Pay TV for the Web in 2013 (March 18) By Chloe Albanesius, PC Magazine: Though services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Instant Video provide a wealth of video options for those without cable, the average consumer is not yet racing to cut the cord and ditch pay TV for an Internet-only TV existence.
  5. Why Bother With 4K? (March 18) By Roger Kay, Forbes: You’ve probably heard a fair amount of rumbling about 4K in the past few months. Many companies —LG, Panasonic , Samsung, Sony , Vizio — showed 4K TVs, displays, and cameras at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January.

 

Discussing the Next Era of Entertainment at TV Connect

We’re in London this week at the TV Connect event sharing how we can empower our service provider customers to deliver high quality video across the home today and in the future.  We’re also discussing how to evolve today’s multiple screen video platforms to a real multiscreen experience, looking at the compelling case for nDVR.  Visitors to the ARRIS stand are also exploring the future of advertising and monetizing in a multiscreen world.  And with 4k services just around the corner, we talking about the path to UltraHD from both the econding and decoding perspectives.

Take a look at some of our pictures from the show floor below and drop by and see us on Stand 41 if you’re at TV Connect this week!

DSC_7836 DSC_7841 DSC_7846 DSC_7849 DSC_7850 DSC_7930 DSC_7941 DSC_7949 TV Connect TC5 TC4 TC3 TC2 TC1

 

How ARRIS Delivers the World’s Biggest Sporting Events – Your Way

How we experience televised sports is about to change…

ARRIS is leading a transformation in video that will make watching the game a different experience for each viewer. Think personalized programming that lets you choose the length of sochi-dutch-speedskaters-2the highlight reels, that gives you different camera angles, customized second-screen content, and personalized advertising—and all on the closest or most convenient device.

The programming and advertising around last week’s Big Game in the U.S. shows us the potential for this kind of experience. And with the start of the Olympics this week and the World Cup kicking off in a few months, there’s a lot for service providers and programmers to consider when they look ahead to differentiating tomorrow’s sports entertainment…

  • Offering personalized, edited packages of live or post-game coverage is not only scalable, but just around the corner.
  • Delivering the action from the viewpoint of a quarterback, downhill skier, or midfielder isn’t farfetched anymore.
  • Providing a timely ad on your smartphone with a deal on your favorite team’s jersey is real.
  • Streaming mind-blowing 4K and 8K video to a consumer’s TV, tablet, or smartphone is closer than ever.

We’d like to give you a glimpse of tomorrow’s viewing experience and what’s being done today to get us there…Leave us your thoughts in the comments below.

Five Questions with…Steve McCaffery

Senior Vice President, Sales, EMEA & Asia Pacific

Steve McCaffery, Senior Vice President, Sales, EMEA & Asia Pacific

This week, we sat down with our own Steve McCaffery, Senior Vice President, Sales, EMEA & Asia Pacific and asked him a few questions…from the biggest trends in the region to his advice for individuals seeking a career in the video and broadband industry. Here is what he shared with us.

In your mind, what are three of the biggest trends facing service providers?

We’re seeing a number of key trends impacting decisions by our service provider customers over the coming year.  Firstly, with the onset of 4K, we’re seeing a change in requirements for new compression techniques like HEVC, stimulating a refresh in the headend for HEVC encoders and also in the CPE space for HEVC set-tops.  Secondly, the growing trend for wireless video delivery around the home is driving the demand for the highest standards in Wi-Fi such as 802.11ac.  And finally, service providers are looking at how they can move content to the cloud for access from multiple screens – discussions around nDVR will continue throughout 2014.

Innovation is a word used fairly often in our industry. How would you define it? Better yet, what’s one of your favorite moments that could be defined by this word?

Innovation is something that creates an industry or defines a marketplace by being disruptive to the norm.  For example, innovation in compression and encoding has disrupted how we consume media, making it possible to view HD video on a tablet screen.

What should the industry do to hire and inspire more people to drive the future of content and communications experiences?

Our industry is heavily engineering-focused, but to make the services that we enable more intuitive, we should encourage more marketing-led skills to balance the engineers.  The technology is there, but it’s now about adoption, and that will come when we can make these experiences more intuitive – we need a shift in our industry to inspire and develop these skills.

What excites you the most about the next 3-5 years for ARRIS?

This industry really excites me! Last year, we brought together two great companies in this space and are on the threshold of some new developments.  Also, vendors like ARRIS continue to move up the value chain, and I’d expect over the next 3-5 years to see video service providers engage with us more to take advantage of our operational experience to help design and manage their video systems, allowing them to focus on their customers and the service they deliver.

What was one of the best pieces of career advice given to you?

Communicate, communicate and communicate… Don’t assume people know and understand what you are doing or thinking.  To bring along an organization with you, especially on a global level, it’s important to communicate across all levels in the organization, up, down, sideways.  For our team, it’s about communicating across regions, business units and with the corporate functions that support us.

 

ARRIS Insight into UK’s Ofcom Consumer Experience Report

This week, Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries released the Consumer Experience Report, which outlines the need to ensure that consumers receive value for money and a good quality of service from their communications providers. Steve McCaffery, Senior Vice-President of EMEA for ARRIS, made the following comments:

“The Ofcom statistics clearly illustrate the quickly accelerating trend towards consumption across multiple devices. The growth of Netflix in the UK (a massive 61 per cent growth within the last year) shows more than ever that the days of the ‘traditional’ programming schedule are numbered.

Consumers now expect to consume content at a time and device of their choosing. This is further evidenced by Ofcom reporting that household take-up of tablet computers having more than doubled over the past year, and with BBC iPlayer and 4oD use also shifting towards mobile devices tablets, smartphones and video-on-demand set-top devices. Multichannel TV bundles, along with triple-play fixed line and broadband, continued their increase in 2013 up by 3% from 2012, and this will only continue to grow, with 4K/ultra HD video content being introduced this year, and even 8K already making waves.

Ofcom further reports that a fifth of consumers switched at least one communications service between Q3 2012 and Q3 2013 – with the desire for ‘faster speeds’ being a key driver among fixed broadband switchers (15%), and the ‘choice of channels’ for TV switchers (18%). Clearly, service providers – whether cable, broadband or telecoms – need to ensure their networks are flexible enough to future proof against increasingly bandwidth-heavy content and services, without having to overhaul their network infrastructure. Ultimately, this will ensure consumers receive the quality of service and range of content they are expecting from providers at the prices they demand, but also that providers have sustainable, profitable business models with which to deliver compelling and sticky service offerings.”

Please feel free to comment on the above post and share your insights of the UK communications market here.

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