Video Distribution

What Is Live Video Distribution

Video distribution for live events typically consists of primary and secondary distribution. Primary video distribution is a business-to-business transport of content and channels from rights holders to their distribution outlets or affiliate partners. In turn, they transmit the channels and content onwards to the consumer, without touching the media, variously over cable, DTT, DTH and IPTV. This is a business-to-consumer type of distribution also called secondary distribution.

Primary distribution has historically been locked into one-way broadcast of the same content with no audience interactivity. With satellite-based primary distribution you had to send the same content to all rights holders. Now, distribution networks are transitioning to more flexible and scalable IP-based infrastructures and workflows driven by lower cost, granular customization and flexibility in time and location.

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We see a shift towards primary distribution over IP with cloud hand-off from rights holders to online video providers or secondary distribution from sports federations, leagues and teams direct to consumer.

The move to cloud-based primary distribution using technologies like Nimbra Edge opens new ways of reaching and monetizing audiences. Rather than one content (channel) broadcast to a whole geographic area, it is possible to target different audiences in different markets with different, even personalized, content.

Content can in fact be customized to meet bespoke demand. Rights holders can receive separate streams tailored by differences in protocols (multicast, unicast, RIST, RTMP, Zixi, SRT, and more), bandwidth, formats (HD, 4K, Atmos), compliance cuts, commentary and graphics.

In live sports, interactive services (viewer-selectable angles, watch-together parties) can add value for rights holders, increasing consumer loyalty and providing a point of differentiation from broadcast.

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How Video Distribution Services Are Evolving

Video distribution services today must evolve rapidly to keep pace with core audience demands. Productions must scale vertically and horizontally across formats, versions, language, device types, and platforms to meet an increasingly diverse audience footprint. Added to this, broadcasters and content producers around the globe must balance the spiralling demand for content with rising production costs. Additional content, such as pop-up channels, can be spun up within days to cater for audience demand around temporary events.

Crucially, consumers do not care how content gets delivered to them. But they do expect a certain level of quality and performance and will quickly move on if this is not delivered. Frustrated viewers will churn, turn off and cut into operator and/or service provider profit.

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Since Internet transport is ‘best effort’, the need to ensure Quality – both of Experience and of Service – has never been more critical. Performance and reliability need to be quantified and, in many cases, guaranteed with Service Level Agreements (SLAs). This is done by employing retransmission protocols called ARQs (Automatic Repeat Request).

Together with rising consumer expectations, the desire to lower cost and improve flexibility is increasing demand for solutions providing secure transport when using the open Internet or unmanaged IP. The need for comprehensive security and monitoring at network interconnects within regions and internationally is paramount. Lossless, robust transport and low latency are mandatory requirements.

Systems providing ‘easy-to-use’ and yet professional live stream transport do not only need to set up the connections, but they also need to supervise each connected service to ensure highest quality. Quality parameters such as TR 101290, packet loss, jitter and more should be gathered for all connections, at any time. What’s more, this should be done for services that are routed over cloud, to places across the world, and set up in minutes.

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IP Video Distribution Comes Of Age

The pandemic accelerated key business model and infrastructure trends tentatively in play before 2020: namely the move to augment and replace traditional linear services (delivered by satellite or cable) with OTT distribution and direct-to-consumer apps.

The transition to higher capacity Internet with 100GE and 400 GE in the core services implemented in hybrid cloud environments is now gathering pace. Media organizations seek greater agility and scalability to keep pace with dynamically shifting markets. The distributed infrastructure supporting the end-to-end delivery chain often includes third-party systems and solutions. Scaling of resources for short-term events poses further challenges, including management of associated peaks in monitoring requirements.

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The challenge for broadcasters and rights holders is to meet consumers’ expectations in a commercially viable way. Video contribution, production and distribution services must remain competitive and relevant. Old models and workflows simply don’t scale to meet the current and future level of demand. Innovation is essential.

Media organisations are shifting investment into cloud-based infrastructures for media processing and delivery. A key driver is the increased need to improve utilization of equipment, functions, people and facilities to reduce cost. Media functions that can be delivered from the cloud today include ingest, editing, encoding, storage, primary distribution, and disaster recovery.

Once again, Net Insight has taken the lead. Nimbra Edge is our cloud-based video delivery platform, built on open standards, which improves flexibility and reliability of cloud video for broadcasters.

By integrating the high-end Nimbra and Aperi platforms directly with Nimbra Edge, Net Insight offers a complete range of agile and secure media delivery solutions for cloud, IP and virtualized networks. This makes it easy for broadcasters, service providers, production companies and enterprises to create frictionless, high-quality, low-latency live video workflows using the perfect networks for their needs. This approach protects existing investments while at the same time moving towards a hyperscale, cloud-centric future.

Net Insight’s media over IP innovations enable flexible and scalable infrastructures, giving broadcasters unprecedented choice to deliver reliable, flexible and future-proof services.

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