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Cable Technology Feature Article

October 24, 2013

TV Operators Ramp Up IP Video Management Spending

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

With cable TV service providers offering more applications and interactive content and the rising adoption of mobile and online video by broadcasters and TV service providers is benefitting the global IP video network management market, which is forecasted to reach $442.4 million in 2017, from $217.8 million in 2012.

That’s the prediction from Frost & Sullivan's (News - Alert) Global IP Video Network Management Market research. The report found that consumer uptake for video across non-traditional devices such as tablets, smartphones, PCs and connected TVs has propelled operators to rush to ensure the quality of service for mobile and online video as a differentiator. However, implementing a digital distribution strategy to push content to mobile and Internet devices presents a new level of complexity into an operator’s architecture and service management approach—driving new operational investments.

That’s because even though pay-TV operators are rushing to implement IP-based adaptive networks, they often do so with a third-party content delivery network (CDN) component, while at the same time needing to maintain the legacy linear TV network. For the foreseeable future, operators will continue to operate to deliver traditional television services via the set-top box (STB), no matter how large the digital component grows.

Operators thus need to invest in new systems to adequately manage IP video service quality while obtaining analytics across both networks, in order to best optimize the user experience and ensure that the content is adequately monetized across screens.

"As broadcasters all over the world upgrade to digital and high-definition (HD) workflows, the deployment of IP networking across the value chain is a certainty," said Frost & Sullivan digital media research director Vidya S. Nath. "This translates to higher adoption of video network management equipment…which [is] critical for analyzing quality of service and equipment."

In a digital and hybrid environment, the process of ensuring quality of experience (QoE) and quality of service (QoS) efficiency requires probes, analyzers and data-mining solutions. Probes accounted for the biggest revenue share of the global IP video network management market at 53 percent in 2012, Frost & Sullivan said, growing at the expense of analyzers. Probes provide real-time and offline quality loss measurement, while analyzers monitor compliance with regulatory guidelines, such as closed caption subtitling. Data-mining solutions however are the key to QoS and QoE metrics, as this technology monitors the overall health of the network.

"Integrated with the entire network, data-mining solutions are able to provide a level of detail that corresponds to the size of the network," said Nath. "In addition, evolving data-mining solutions provide system information at the most granular level pertaining to every channel connected to the network, plus pan-geographic location views. As targeted and interactive advertisements increase across devices and applications such as video on demand (VOD), the use of such video monitoring and tracking technologies will grow."

Operators can’t afford to ignore the new back-office requirements: It’s no secret that consumer thirst for mobile and online video continues to escalate, with more and more people watching video on handheld devices, game consoles, PCs and smart TVs. Also, the younger generation is growing up with a “new normal” expectation of access to their content anywhere, anytime on a range of connected devices.

As a result, ABI Research (News - Alert) finds that nearly one-third of U.S. telco TV households are expected to access multiscreen or TV Everywhere services by the end of 2013. Most of these homes are already using advanced interactive features like remotely programming a DVR.

 “The shift to digital and OTT distribution is accelerating, particularly as content providers increasingly warm up to these channels,” said ABI Research senior analyst Michael Inouye. “While pay-TV services are still afforded many advantages, we are approaching the proverbial fork in the road when content owners will decide if they continue down the same path or forge ahead, shaking up the primary means of media distribution as we’ve known it.”

For an operator, an IP architecture offers the advantages of scalability and high flexibility to manage and distribute content in real-time. This sets it apart from other technologies such as asynchronous transfer mode (ATM), asynchronous serial interface (ASI), and intermediate frequency (IF)/radio frequency (RF). But they have to get the user experience right.

"Across end-user verticals, clients clearly indicate video quality is directly linked to survival," said Nath. "With the increasing complexity in video delivery, service providers are not merely trying to please their present customers but are also seeking to deploy IP video network management solutions to future-proof their entire delivery ecosystem."

Edited by Ryan Sartor

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