FIFA World Cup a watershed for multi-screen
All eyes were on Brazil earlier this summer when it hosted the FIFA World Cup soccer tourney. While the World Cup served as a coming out party for several countries’ emerging soccer stars, it also provided a good backdrop for streaming video technologies.
Comcast for example served up more than 13 million live streams of World Cup matches to its subscribers via its own Xfinity TV Go app or the Watch ESPN app. The USA vs. Belgium match accounted for 834,000 live streams alone, which beat the previous live streaming record (USA vs. Germany) by 22 percent.
During the World Cup, Envivio served as Comcast’s only vendor that handled live multi-screen streaming. Envivio also worked with Globosat to broadcast World Cup games in 4K.
Envivio CEO Julien Signes recently shared his thoughts on the World Cup coverage with CED.
CED: Were you surprised by the number of live World Cup streams, both here and abroad?
Julien Signes: We always knew that these events, the Olympics and the soccer World Cup, are big for streaming technologies and video technology in general, and we anticipated that they would have some effect. But I think this particular World Cup was great timing from the perspective of 4K, the maturity OTT services and the Envivio Muse Live software-based encoders that we’ve been deploying. So there has been a lot of success around the world.
CED: What other service provides did you work with during the World Cup?
JS: We did the 4K streaming with Globosat, so that was new. That was specific and that was more to showcase the quality and the user experience of 4K.
For our regular customers, all of them, whether its BskyB, Orange, Comcast, Verizon, or Time Warner Cable, used us for their live multi-screen streaming. The World Cup was definitely a busy time in terms of activity and in terms of the volumes it generated for these kinds of applications.
At a high level they are all using us to do the live streaming on different networks. The are differences in configurations and differences in architecture from one project to another, but at a high level we’re taking responsibility for that live streaming application to multi-screen for all of these companies.
CED: Did anyone other Globosat do 4K?
JS: We’re not aware of it. With Globosat obviously being part of Global, which is the No. 1 media group in Brazil, it was definitely a good position to be in. I think FIFA themselves had their own 4K stream, but I wasn’t aware of any other media group that had that access.
CED: Did the World Cup serve to further validate TV Everywhere services?
JS: I think it definitely did. I think all of these big events are great showcases for this kind of technology. Content owners are still, in my opinion, responsible for dragging their feet on the TV Everywhere front and making that more complicated than it should be.
There is some truth to the fact that TV Everywhere is not as everywhere as you would like it to be. But I think that the World Cup is a great event to validate the consumer interest. I think it did. I’m glad of our involvement and I’m obviously glad about the results as well.
CED: Did you learn anything in particular that you could apply to a similar event like the World Cup?
JS: Not really, but I think in general that people really value the quality of experience. Even on an iPad you want to be able to view the maximum quality so I think our pitch to these operators is to really benchmark and go for the best possible picture quality for your streaming. Don’t treat it as second zone, second hand kind of service. Some of our broadcast competitors broadcast high-quality TV, but the rest is streaming that is second zone. They think it doesn’t matter, that it doesn’t have to be high quality. I believe the contrary. I think in order to entice consumers to use it more and more it has to be flawless. It has to be buffer free. It has to be really high picture quality, and I think that’s what we provide with our platform.
CED: What will be different about next World Cup four years from now, more 4K?
JS: I think a lot more HEVC as well. I think the next World Cup you should see the majority of the traffic in HEVC and some in 4K. There will be some 4K, but it won’t be 100 percent 4K. I do think there will be a lot of HEVC because a lot of these streaming services will be made over HEVC. We’re starting to see that traction.
CED: Any final thoughts on the World Cup?
JS: These big events are key marketing events for those new services. I think the key to remember is that the consumers want those services, and these events just illustrate that. Consumers want this, our technology enables it, so now the world needs to continue to move. Content owners, distributors, aggregators and operators need to align and find a practical way to distribute it like the pioneers, BskyB and Comcast, are doing. We think it was a great validation of the consumer interest. The rest of the industry needs to follow and we’re ready with the technology to enable it.