OK, easy might be overstating it. In reality, it’s going to take more than a snap of the fingers to begin shifting all of your video delivery and ad insertion operations to a single, HTTP-based network that uses adaptive bitrate (ABR) technology, a network-modernization process that’s at the heart of Imagine Communications’ recently introduced unified distribution initiative.
But not a whole lot more.
That’s because most content distributors have already done most of the hard work: building out next-generation networks to stream content and commercials to Internet-connected devices, including smartphones, tablets, PCs and connected TV. The problem is that most of these new networks have been constructed in parallel to legacy distribution networks that use transport stream technology to send video signals to subscribers via set-top boxes (STBs).
In a rapidly evolving industry, where nimbleness is a competitive imperative, PayTV providers are discovering that maintaining multiple networks, in addition to the financial burden, is inhibiting their ability to improve the efficiency of their networks and impeding the transition to a more agile and versatile environment.
But by adopting a unified distribution strategy, which transfers primacy from legacy to next-gen architectures, video service providers can significantly reduce capital and operational expenses and increase flexibility by collapsing multiple video delivery and ad insertion infrastructures into software-based, state-of-the-art HTTP networks that use ABR technology.
To facilitate this shift, Imagine Communications recently introduced the Video Delivery Edge (VDE), an HTTP-to-UDP gateway that will allow cable operators and other video service providers to streamline the consolidation of legacy and next-gen networks. It’s also the cornerstone of the company’s unified distribution strategy. By positioning a gateway at the edge of their networks that converts ABR-based content into transport stream-compatible signals that are delivered to subscribers through existing STBs, content distributors can begin to decommission legacy video delivery and ad insertion infrastructure in favor of next-gen architectures.
The following three illustrations depict the role of the Selenio VDE in assisting video service providers in adopting a unified distribution model that enables the decommissioning of legacy transport networks:
Step 1: Parallel Distribution and Ad Insertion Networks
To accommodate shifts in video consumption preferences, many video service providers have built out HTTP-based networks that use ABR technology to break content into fragments that are streamed to Internet-connected clients in parallel with legacy video distribution networks.
Step 2: Introduction of HTTP-to-UDP Gateway
A gateway at the edge of the network capable of bridging legacy and next-generation networks enables cable operators and other content distributors to begin to eliminate the overlap in the core of their networks and leverage next-gen delivery and ad insertion technologies for all subscribers.
Step 3: Unified Distribution Architecture
Soon after shifting primacy to next-generation networks, PayTV providers can dismantle legacy networks, significantly reducing operational cost while at the same time improving video quality and focusing future investment on network modernization.
With a unified network architecture in place, PayTV providers can begin to reap the benefits of infrastructure consolidation, including maximizing investment in existing subscriber equipment, improving network resiliency, creating a catalyst for the transition to virtualized environments, improving ad insertion targeting and simplifying cloud DVR capabilities.
So, maybe adopting a unified distribution architecture isn’t so easy that you can do it with your eyes closed. But that doesn’t mean that the benefits you realize – today and tomorrow – won’t be well worth your efforts.