One question which is probably on the lips of most Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs) is what transcoding solutions will emerge in 2015? Many have seen issues with codecs, DRM schema and formats become more complicated, as the number of connected devices and operating systems in the arena has expanded.
As NAB show 2015 approaches so operators are talking about what they would like to see emerge from the new product launches at the April event. Areas such as scope and encoding configurations are high the agendas of many, together with the important cost implications.
Automation is king
High on the MVPD wish list is transcoding automation, enabling all of the desired increase in functionality without necessitating any increase in staffing for the operators. Already the loud, and other pay as you go options are being viewed as the potential go-to solution for processing requirements over and above the day to day.
Operators have also moved on with their requirements for linear content. The emphasis now is on the downgrading of costs for storage and peering. Reducing the bitrates is a priority in enabling this to happen.
One of the mainstays of the MVPD agenda is the flexibility requirement; the scalability and reliability to cope with fluctuating demand in order to avoid the occurrence of encoding bottlenecks that eat away at growth and profit. Of course any flexible solution also needs to have an inbuilt future proofing to prevent the need for re-investment.
The emergence of the HDMI dongle
A major issue for MVPDs is currently the increasing usage of HDMI dongles with large screen TVs; this is particularly prevalent in the US. As the number of people viewing in adaptive bitrate (ABR) increases apace, so does the expectation level that is pushed on to operators. This will definitely have an influence on NAB, where multiscreen is expected to be the centre of focus for many.
There will be a continuance of the battle between hardware and software encoding and transcoding. Of course, the truth is that they both have positive features to recommend them; the lower latency of a hardware solution against the improved tweaking options of software, for higher quality.
That being said there is an argument that quality has the higher priority in overall operator considerations. It also has to be said that software also potentially offers the greater flexibility. It has far easier update options than hardware, improving its future proofing. It also facilitates control at a more granular level, and it isn’t affected by location.
As providers of cloud infrastructure begin to provide hardware-based video acceleration it certainly looks likely that getting great transcoding results without investing in hardware will become a far easier proposition in 2015 and beyond.