Eli Garten,VP Issue: EMEA 2015
Article no.: 1
Topic: Why broadcasters are migrating to Internal IP solutions
Author: Eli Garten,VP
Title: Product Management
Organisation: VITEC
PDF size: 372KB

About author

Vice President of Product Management, Eli Garten, VITEC Video Innovation
A creative manager with over 15 years’ experience in design, product-management, and software and hardware solutions in the video compression markets, VITEC Video Innovation’s Vice President of Product Management, Eli Garten, is responsible for road mapping and strategic planning of the company’s end-to-end IPTV and video streaming technologies and solutions. Garten’s diverse technical background includes software development, hardware integration, audio/video compression, streaming, networking, web technologies, databases and client-server applications. Prior to his current position, Garten had been with Optibase where he started as Software Engineer, and was first promoted to Director of Technical Marketing and Professional Services, and then Vice President of Technical Marketing. Upon its acquisition by VITEC in 2010 Garten was serving as Vice President Product Marketing for Optibase. Garten was instrumental in the inception of EZ TV IPTV and FITIS Full-Motion-Video systems, award-winning IPTV middleware and IP video distribution systems that empower organizations to deliver high quality video to local and remote users over LAN and WAN network.The Move Towards IP-Centric Workflows

Article abstract

Today, more and more broadcasters are eliminating outdated workflows using IP-based technology for in-house video requirements. Using centralized architectures, employees can distribute, record, or quickly retrieve content while viewing multiple feeds from either inside or outside facility networks. Entirely Web-based, the software solutions provide aggregated lists of IP video to deliver either original content or feeds from sources such as affiliates, partners, or remote facilities. The new workflow then maps out content and translates media into a user-friendly channel guide — similar to TV setups within the home. In addition, IT personnel can easily grant varying access rights to employees, allowing sectors such as marketing or production to see only the feeds that are required for their particular functions. Users can also access content from anywhere, both on-premise as well as from outside the office, using TVs , browsers on desktops, and any mobile phone or tablet device — creating more flexibility while reducing costs for companies. 

Full Article

Over the past two decades, IP encoding, streaming, and digital content delivery solutions have slowly made their way into the broadcast environment. From protocols such as MPEG1 to today’s High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) technology, the use of IP streaming continues to evolve across industries, providers, and personal devices — leading to triple-play services that are redefining the way telecommunication companies, satellite businesses, and over-the-top (OTT) internet providers deliver content to customers. Major operators in almost every country are now offering voice, video, and Internet access, creating a more competitive arena for traditional broadcasters. As a result, IP streaming technology — once considered a back-office tool or supporting infrastructure— is now unveiling a new opportunity for broadcasters to completely revamp their internal workflows.

Traditional challenges

As the transition to IP-centric technologies for delivering video between headends and to customers began to build steam, broadcasters started divesting their coax cable and satellite infrastructure. As a result, a large part of broadcast content began distribution as IP video streams. But broadcasters soon realized that — since a large-part of their content was already available in this format — there could surely be additional opportunities to leverage their existing IP-based assets. The challenge? Find way to reinvent the internal collaboration experience for in-house users through broadcast-grade solutions. Now that customers could access IP-based content, broadcast companies investigated ways to move video between employees and departments — improving archaic workflows that were still reliant on a wide range of legacy equipment.

Typical broadcast companies house thousands of employees divided across departments, groups, or functional areas. However, all employees, no matter their grouping, are united in their need to access video regardless of the equipment at their disposal. For instance, news desks monitoring multiple live channels were traditionally stacking TV sets, and letting employees use IR remotes to select feeds while trying not to disrupt other monitors. The recording process was also inefficient. Using VCRs or TiVo devices, marketing and sales departments followed cumbersome analog workflows to track advertisements and archive program slots. For field reporters, signals were sent over satellites back to headquarters before being disseminated to several endpoints — requiring costly and complex physical routers connected over coax cables for in-wall SDI distribution.

In addition to hundreds of miles of cabling, the above-mentioned processes pointed to inflexible workflows that could not accommodate changing layouts, limiting the ability to distribute and access video on a large scale. Things only got worse during the transition to high-definition (HD) video. The capacity of radio frequency (RF) or digital QAM systems was soon completely maxed out, creating the need to add even more modulators, distribution amplifiers to the IT rooms since existing equipment could not accommodate additional channels or the new, bandwidth-hungry HD signals.

IP Solutions changing the game

Today, more and more broadcasters are eliminating outdated workflows using IP-based technology for in-house video requirements. Using centralized architectures, employees can distribute, record, or quickly retrieve content while viewing multiple feeds from either inside or outside facility networks. Entirely Web-based, the software solutions provide aggregated lists of IP video to deliver either original content or feeds from sources such as affiliates, partners, or remote facilities. The new workflow then maps out content and translates media into a user-friendly channel guide — similar to TV setups within the home. In addition, IT personnel can easily grant varying access rights to employees, allowing sectors such as marketing or production to see only the feeds that are required for their particular functions. Users can also access content from anywhere, both on-premise as well as from outside the office, using TVs , browsers on desktops, and any mobile phone or tablet device — creating more flexibility while reducing costs for companies.

To further reduce costs, the centralized, IP approach to video distribution lets broadcasters easily eliminate coax cabling while making distribution more efficient. Within traditional cable systems, channels are continuously hitting the end-point tuners, which quickly fill pipes whereas IPTV systems aggregate channels at the network core without passing the video bits unless users request particular content. As a result, a solution’s Web-based player sends a command to the network, giving access to streams without duplicating any traffic—whether there are eight or eighty thousand users. In addition, IP-based solutions automatically transcode content to the ideal streaming protocol and data-rate best suited for the given device. For example users on the local area network (LAN) will tune into a high res blue-ray quality multicast channel while remote users accessing the same feed over Wi-Fi or 4G networks will be served a reduced quality unicast stream using HLS or Flash, further cutting bandwidth costs for companies.

Real-World application

A major cable news network based in London was seeking to migrate from a legacy RF monitoring solution for tracking internal, competitor, and partner content while leveraging content already available on their IP infrastructure. With the need to manage hundreds of live video feeds, the popular network’s employees also required the ability to watch multiple feeds at once, reduce their reliance on TiVo devices, and eliminate VCRs from their workflows. By replacing their infrastructure with an IP-based solution, users simply access a browser page, tune-in to an HD video stream, or create a mosaic of up to 20 video feeds across their monitor. As a result, the British network quickly eliminated outdated monitors, reduced maintenance costs, and simply added a second PC monitor to users’ workspaces — letting employees use their primary monitor for day-to-day operations while dedicating a second monitor to IP video functions. By removing all hard components, the broadcaster gains a fully scalable solution that lets employees easily catalog, distribute, or track content while seamlessly adding metadata for simple retrieval of footage and sharing content with employees on any device.

Like most news networks, this broadcaster also required the ability to be alerted of major developments when not monitoring particular feeds. In other words, the location was looking to stay in constant sync with its U.S.-based Headquarters in order to keep abreast of new footage and content options as soon as they became available. Since today’s IP-based solutions operate in cloud environments, channel guides in London are continuously updated to be in line with video from Headquarters. Extremely complex in the past, the process automatically synchronizes content to keep locations up to date while further enhancing collaboration between departments and staff. By replacing its entire fleet of coax-based equipment, the network not only enhanced teamwork between its members, it also reduced operating expenses such as depreciation, maintenance, repairs, or the need to hire personnel to split cabling whenever a new office required video access.

Fully operational in less than four days, the IP solution provides live video access to thousands of users without any external assistance from solution providers or any significant training. The same process extends to the company’s remote employees including teleworkers, reporters, or executives on the move. Anyone within the company can seamlessly access real-time content and share existing video through player technology — creating a valuable tool for this bustling news network. Fully virtualized, the system lets the broadcaster simply send an e-mail to employees with an embedded URL for users to log in. In the past, entire teams were required to get RF systems up and running, while today’s solutions are entirely maintained by in-house IT staff on existing infrastructure.

What’s next?

As the demands and capabilities of IP video applications continue to evolve, IP-based content management solutions need to remain flexible, scalable, and future-ready without adding any interventions, investments, or complexity to the content delivery process. Centralized and entirely software-based, today’s tools are fully equipped to help broadcasters seamlessly adapt their workflows, enhance their collaboration capabilities, and streamline their content delivery requirements to accommodate upcoming innovations such as the HEVC/H.265 compression standard — without sacrificing simplicity. Cost-effective for companies, easy for staff, and simple for consumers, IP-based solutions will continue to alter the way people engage with content, interface with devices, and interact with each other.