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Monday, September 11, 2017

What’s innovative about IP delivery?

By Simon Trudelle, Senior Director Product Marketing , NAGRA​

The pay-TV industry is becoming increasingly aware of its need to innovate.

Innovation, of course, is a broad term. But it does look as though industry leaders around the world are coming to a consensus on how to transform for the next generation of content delivery.

Take the latest Pay-TV Innovation Forum – survey respondents specified innovations like virtual reality and 360-degree video content, mobile-first TV services, standalone OTT and SVOD platforms as potential areas to explore.

The other long-term innovation commonly held up as a solution to the complex challenges the pay-TV industry will face in the coming years is to migrate to an IP-based mode of delivery. This would enable providers to rise to the challenge from disruptive IP-based delivery platforms like Netflix and Amazon.

But is IP migration actually innovative?

Not as such – delivering content via IP is hardly a remarkable feat anymore. It’s simply a response to consumer demand. Thanks for high-speed broadband, 4G networks and increased smartphone capability, consumers expect high-quality content to be available wherever they are. The average viewer isn’t concerned with the technical aspects of how a service is delivered. So long as it satisfies their needs, the technical label applied to it makes no difference – this is the post-OTT era, after all.

IP migration shouldn’t be considered any more innovative than, say, a customer support function. It’s simply an integral component of a pay-TV provider’s service.

So what are the real innovations?

Future-proofed solutions that can anticipate future trends and technology like VR and widespread live streaming is one option. Similarly, providers should anticipate new mobile device usage.

They should also look at tailoring solutions so that they work for everyone – a hybrid STB model coupled with multiscreen services, extending to consumer streaming devices, may prove an ideal migration strategy, for example. Especially when you consider how IP-only devices might prove challenging to different consumer behaviours (e.g. channel surfing vs content bingers), and that network upgrades don’t progress at the same rate for all users.

Another innovation could lie in the protection of multiscreen devices and providing more control over distribution. This could include support for Premium VOD (early-release window movies). NAGRA has a broad range of advanced content protection solutions for STBs, smart TV sets and consumer devices, supporting multiple DRMs and watermarking. These can provide substantial protection against piracy threats in an IP world, also ensuring content rights are granted for innovative distribution models.

These, of course, are just some of the possible innovation areas.

Pay-TV providers will need to continue creating solutions in the long-term, adapting to new challenges and capturing new opportunities as they arise.

But the most important point here is that solutions will be innovative so long as they add perceived value for the subscriber. On top of great content, this means the solutions are tailored, flexible and scalable.

Delivering content via IP is no longer a holy grail for providers. The real innovation lies in delivering IP-based content in a way that works for their subscribers, their content partners and themselves.

If you wish to read more about the services we can offer to help you smartly transition from broadcast to IP, please contact us at dtv@nagra.com.