We’re back after 5 intensive days at IBC 2014 in Amsterdam, where we presented Beamr Video 2.0 to over 200 potential customers. After catching our breath, we are now ready to share some of our insights from the show.
First and foremost: Everyone and everything is moving to IP. Whether you’re a TV station, cable or satellite operator, content producer or rights owner, you know that IP-based over-the-top delivery of your content will become a growing part of your business, and will eventually take over traditional delivery methods. The reason is obvious: Consumers today are connected through a variety of devices, such as smartphones, phablets, tablets and laptops, and they expect to have access to your content anytime and anywhere. Every major TV service operator, whether it is cable, satellite or IPTV has some form of “TV Everywhere” service, where subscribers can access content without being tied to their set-top box at home. And vendors at IBC had a large variety of solutions for OTT video delivery, including workflow, transcoding, content management, delivery, conditional access and monetization.
Another important trend that ties into the move to IP is the move to the cloud. Companies are offering solutions for “cloud-based everything” – from content editing to management to transcoding to DVR. In fact, our feeling was that today you can become a virtual TV operator in the cloud without owning any equipment other than a camera and an Internet connection. All you need to do is to produce good content and start counting the revenues (we wish it was that easy…).
On the more technical side, we saw MPEG-DASH gaining more ground as the standard for media streaming services. On the codecs front, HEVC has emerged as the dominant next-generation codec, with many companies showing offline and real-time encoders, chips, set-top boxes and smart TVs that support the new standard. Google’s VP9, which at CES seemed like a viable competitor to HEVC, being a royalty-free, open source codec (including royalty-free silicon IP cores for chips), was hardly noticeable at IBC, and the general feeling was that HEVC is the only way to go. HEVC is being introduced first to solve a real issue: Delivery of Ultra-HD (4K) content over the Internet. But as more and more capture and playback devices support HEVC, it is likely that it will also be used for HD resolutions and below.
Speaking of Ultra-HD, you can imagine that it was one of the main themes of the show, but it seems that the industry has not yet decided on the set of parameters that will be used for initial deployments: Frame rate, bit depth, and color space are still in the open. Increasing each of these parameters improves visual quality but also increases the overall bitrate, which is already quite high due to the 4x increase in pixel count over HD. Obviously if you use Beamr Video you can get the bitrate down again, but that will be the subject of another post..