Smiling woman lounging on couch watching something on her laptop while eating popcorn.

Is live television on its way to being an artifact of the past?

Video aggregators and distributors rolling out cloud-based services, such as Cloud DVR (cDVR), Catch-up TV or Restart TV, which allow subscribers to re-launch live programming minutes or even seconds into its playout, are required to record every piece of content as it’s being broadcast. Once a subscriber manipulates the linear feed, pausing it for even a moment, she is no longer witness to a live event, but instead accessing a digital recording.

Talk about hair splitting. The difference between viewing a live feed and a one-second-old recording is, well, one second. But from the service provider perspective, converting all content into digital files is a precursor to unleashing a new and unique television experience.

“The seemingly simple unification of all types of video content turns out to be the lynchpin that service providers need to deliver a highly personal experience.”

So long, Silos

What has long stood in the way of video consumption evolving into a fully personalized and interactive experience is the segmentation of content based on time, location or source. These silos – linear TV, VoD, premises-based DVRs and independent OTT services — have historically come with separate interfaces and operating restrictions. Linear TV, for example, in most cases must be viewed inside the home. Programming stored on in-home DVR equipment is all-but-impossible to access from a mobile device.

Making every piece of content a file, located in a common repository in the cloud, crashes down those barriers. In this new world order, all video content becomes equal, for lack of a better term, as well as accessible through a common interface from any device. The seemingly simple unification of all types of video content turns out to be the lynchpin that service providers need to deliver a highly personal experience. Similar to their digital music experience, consumers now have full control of all of their video from a single app or interface—and from any device of their choosing.

On-target Ads

The implications of file-based television from an advertising perspective are equally profound. Both the buy and sell side will benefit greatly from the unification of a video-consumption environment that has been steadily fragmenting for the past couple of decades. With each introduction of linear TV alternatives – VCR, DVR, VoD, TV Everywhere, OTT streaming — advertisers and inventory holders have surrendered a portion of their ability to reach a wide and relevant audience with commercial content —and to measure the effectiveness of that content.

That’s no longer the case. With the centralization of all video into a file-based realm, aggregators and distributors, leveraging just-in-time transcoding and packaging capabilities, as well as dynamic ad insertion (DAI) technologies, will be able to assist marketers in delivering the right ad to the right person at the right time.

Next-Gen cDVR

One of the primary enablers of this new video delivery model is cloud DVR technology. Introduced a few years ago, cDVR solutions, at the highest level, provide cloud-based video recording and storage capabilities. By moving DVR functions normally found in home-based equipment to datacenter environments, cDVR solutions reduce operational expenses and create new monetization opportunities for content distributors.

But not all cDVR solutions are the same. First-generation offerings have been hampered by cost and performance deficiencies that restrict service providers from fully quenching subscriber thirst for a personalized, omniplatform experience.

Fortunately, a new generation of cDVR solutions is emerging to address these shortcomings and deliver cost efficiencies, functionality and capabilities that will enable content distributors and aggregators to revolutionize television through the introduction and monetization of compelling and unique personalized services.

Next-generation solutions are characterized by advances in technology that enable service providers to overcome the cost and performance barriers that have hindered the rollout of these new services in the past. They deliver technology innovations in transcoding, packaging and storage efficiency, for example, that enable content providers and distributors to cost effectively record and store massive amounts of linear, VoD and time-shifted content.

Hold the Eulogy

If live television as we know has indeed come to an end, rather than lament its passing, content providers and distributors should revel in the opportunities it presents. The dawning of the file-based television era brings an atmosphere of creativity and entrepreneurism. It gives content creators, aggregators and distributors an opening to move up the media industry value chain.

For subscribers, who may have a hang-up or two over the prospect of witnessing a sporting event or newscast from a recorded facsimile, options are few. If you want to make sure you’re watching next year’s World Cup at the moment it’s happening, you might need to book a trip to Rio de Janeiro.

An anchor component of Imagine Communications’ cloud video platform, ad insertion for multiscreen (AIM) delivers technology advances that open up new monetization opportunities for service providers, as well as new levels of operational efficiency.

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portatif of Steve Reynolds


Steve Reynolds

Steve Reynolds is President of Imagine Communications, a global leader in multiscreen video and ad management solutions that broadcasters, networks, video service providers and enterprises around the world rely on to support their mission-critical operations.

Steve brings 25 years of technology leadership in the video industry to Imagine Communications. He has served as the CTO at Imagine Communications and Harris Broadcast, Senior Vice President of Premises Technology at Comcast, Senior Vice President of Technology at OpenTV, and CTO at Intellocity USA.

Steve earned a MS in Computer Engineering from Widener University and BS in Computer Science from West Chester University. As the Chairman of the AIMS Alliance and a member of SMPTE and SCTE, he has participated in numerous standards-making bodies in the cable and digital video industries. Steve also holds over 40 patents relating to digital video, content security, interactive television and digital devices.