Hybrid broadband broadcast TV (HbbTV) offers a significant opportunity for broadcasters to enrich video services, generate additional revenues and build viewer loyalty through an improved user experience. HbbTV enables over-the-top (OTT) video streaming and can be used to support catch-up or restart TV services alongside traditional linear broadcast.
The aim of HbbTV is to align broadcast and broadband delivery of entertainment services for consumers through connected TVs, set-top boxes and multiscreen devices while enabling new and interactive services. In addition to catch-up and restart TV, HbbTV enables electronic program guides (EPGs), teletext, video-on-demand (VOD), social networking, gaming and second screen applications. HbbTV was originally intended to enrich digital terrestrial television (DTT); however, cable, IPTV and satellite networks are also incorporating HbbTV into their video service offerings.
Consumer demand and regulatory incentives are driving the expansion of HbbTV. Most European countries plus Turkey, Vietnam, Namibia, Australia and New Zealand have launched OTT services for DTT. Plans are currently underway in the United Kingdom, Italy, South Africa, Singapore, the United States, and some West African countries to introduce HbbTV as well. In other countries, it is a legal requirement for operators to carry HbbTV even when OTT VOD services compete with their own linear offerings.
In countries with HbbTV services, many DTT set-top boxes are HbbTV-compliant with built-in HTML browsing capabilities and support for MPEG-DASH streaming. In Germany, more than 60% of televisions sold are connected TVs, 92% of which are HbbTV compliant.
Broadcasters adopting HbbTV face a key challenge in architecting VOD and live-to-VOD services: ensuring that additional workflow elements needed for HbbTV effectively integrate with existing linear TV delivery infrastructure. To learn how software-defined video solutions from Elemental enable unified live linear and OTT workflows to support HbbTV, download the solution brief.
What would it be like to feel like you are at an event – courtside at a basketball game, front row seats at a Broadway play, behind the wheel at NASCAR, on the show floor at CES – from the comfort of your home? Nokia’s OZO, a professional grade virtual reality (VR) camera, has demonstrated its immersive technology with the support of Elemental software-defined video processing at two events, including the Finnish company’s November 30 product launch in Los Angeles.
The launch event, targeting the media and entertainment industry, featured a live broadcast in full 360 3D VR of the musical band Best Coast performing on the Capitol Records rooftop. Event attendees seven miles away at LA Live donned VR headsets to experience “front row seats” via live streaming. “It felt like you could reach out and touch the performers,” said Tom Gilman, Technical Marketing Manager at Elemental, who attended to support the Nokia-Elemental demonstration. “There was 360-degree 3D, with depth and immersive audio.” This, he explained, enables headset wearers to hear spatial audio much like one would while watching home theatre.
For the demonstration, the Nokia OZO filmed the Best Coast performance and created a single video to feed Elemental Live for encoding. The encoded stream was packaged in MPEG-DASH and sent to an Akamai CDN. The VR video was available to attendees on a Nokia app using VR headsets.
What made Elemental’s support of this event stand out, explained Gilman, was the flexibility of software-defined video solutions to allow for processing of video with unique requirements including cropping the video and using a custom aspect ratio. The audio also required special handling using built-in audio mixing functions to accommodate the OZO camera. Gilman said that these are standard features in Elemental Live and available via the GUI or REST interface.
The Nokia OZO is a spherical camera that has eight sensors and eight microphones, and is the company’s first hardware release since selling its devices division to Microsoft in 2013. James Murphy, Elemental Sales Manager, recently attended a Nokia OZO demonstration at an NBA game in Los Angeles. The camera, which was positioned courtside, provided a “jaw-dropping immersive experience,” according to Murphy. At one point, he explained, a security guard leaned in to the OZO and Murphy instinctively felt the urge to step back.
With every new year comes fresh promise and new resolutions. As we welcome 2016, Elemental is committed to delivering unmatched video quality with 4K UHD resolutions. Last year was marked by a number of 4K UHD milestones, with the launch of the first commercial 4K services including Globosat and Tata Sky. In 2016, our video processing software will deliver new 4K content and services to millions of recently acquired 4K screens. As UHD technologies and formats continue to evolve and coalesce, our software-defined video solutions will further enable broadcasters to offer the best UHD experience possible to end-viewers. Elemental solutions will also leverage Moore’s law to deliver high frame rate video for live action sports content and high dynamic range video for a greatly enhanced viewing experience. With the market for virtual reality set to grow in 2016, Elemental is committed to delivering the high resolutions required to make VR a truly mind-blowing experience. No matter what the content, delivery network, or screen, we promise that this year’s video resolutions will be bigger and better than ever.
Elemental Technologies is the leading supplier of software-defined video solutions for multiscreen content delivery. Founded in 2006, Elemental is headquartered in Portland, Oregon.