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Divergent paths to TV everywhere

Thu, 09/19/2013 - 12:15pm
Brian Santo

That service providers will have to deliver TV everywhere is a foregone conclusion, but a couple of recent announcements – one from Sling and another from TiVo – provided an interesting juxtaposition of alternatives of how to accomplish the feat.

Arris gave up on its own efforts to create a technology that was just like Sling and earlier this month announced a deal with Sling to get the original to incorporate in its Moxi whole-home DVRs. Moxi DVRs are used by Buckeye CableSystem, BendBroadband, Shaw Communications, Wide Open West (WOW) and others. Sling Media has always argued that its approach constitutes an automatic TV Everywhere experience, and so it does.

Last week, Harmonic and TiVo collaborated on a demo of a networked PVR (nPVR) system that would provide what is essentially a TV Everywhere solution that includes PVR functionality.

Virgin Media is a customer of both Harmonic and TiVo, and the two vendors found themselves working together on the account. TiVo is providing the user experience (user interface, recommendations engine, app), back office support, rights, and other tools, while Harmonic is providing all the content storage and processing, including transcoding, packaging and origination, explained Yaron Raz, director, digital video solutions marketing at Harmonic.

Virgin Media subscribers can download a TiVo app and then access content through the app, said Joshua Danovitz, Vice President, Innovation at TiVo.

Virgin Media is not currently doing nPVR, but the two vendors realized that together they have the wherewithal to provide the capability, leading to last week’s demonstration at the IBC convention in Amsterdam.

What the two don’t supply is the content distribution network CDN. To use deploy the Tivo / Harmonic system, the service provider will have its own in the vast majority of cases, Raz said. He explained that traffic patterns for this type of activity make it is far less expensive to use your own CDN compared to using a third-party CDN provider.   

Both the Sling / Arris and the TiVo / Harmonic systems provide at type of TV Everywhere experience, but there are differences.

As Raz summed it up, Sling-based approaches are limited to forwarding whatever content is stored in the home, while the content available through an nPVR approach should be much wider – whatever is available on the network.

It also comes down to where you want to put your capex, he said, in the home or in the network?

Meanwhile, while many in the industry believe that eventually all service providers will find it more efficient to build their own CDNs, many service providers have not yet done so. If the economics for an nPVR are so conclusive in favor of building your own CDN, that might militate against adopting the Tivo / Harmonic approach in favor of something that looks more like the Sling approach. Alternatively, it might recommend going to third parties for an end-to-end TV Everywhere solution.

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