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Show me the adverts - but make them relevant


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Show me the adverts - but make them relevant

  1. 1. IPTV headends Show me the adverts - but make them relevant Service providers are increasingly The TV entertainment demands of customers is getting more looking to make advertising more sophisticated and operators relevant to the new paradigms and providers are having to in viewing, but being able to offer offer much more smarter packages in order to personalised viewing while allowing satisfy these demands. highly targeted advertising in a For example, the cost-effective manner is easier enhanced customer experience now said than done. Advances in IPTV includes the ability to headend technology are emerging time shift programmes and so skip ads; people to help with this evolution, want to use digital TV to discovers Joe O'Halloran shape an entertainment experience that fits former British Prime Minister of erstwhile mobile phone retailers their personal profile. A once defined an optimist as a person who sees an opportunity from every problem. offering broadband services, the entry of Sky into the broadband arena, and the merger of ntl and Telewest, The latter facet is seen as one of the key advantages that telco-based IPTV providers have over Conversely, he defined a pessimist as which will now work under the Virgin their cable-based rivals. But it's not a person who sees a problem in every Media brand. All of the above, and as easy for operators to say that they opportunity. In the UK digital TV (DTV) the many others who haven't been can meet the customers' demands arena today, there is a huge number mentioned, are coming to market with for personalisation and then reap of opportunities. The question is, basically the same triple play package the benefits. Personalised TV has for the supplier community at least, of digital TV, broadband and telephony. an immediate knock-on effect on what problems will occur before “There are clear management such opportunities can be realised? This is a great time for the UK's advantages from having single consumers of digital services. In recent instances of software at headends months, the market has seen the arrival rather than having to deploy vast amounts of distributed software in STBs, and this fits in very nicely with the advent of personalisation and target advertising.” To the consumer, and from the TV advertising. That is to say, by time shifting delivery point of view at least, the and personalising, viewers will quite delivery mechanism is not going to easily skip adverts that have been be as important as the content and inserted using traditional methodologies. the quality and value of the service, In response, and in order to preserve and so there are great deals to be the precious revenues from sponsors, had as the many players slug it out. operators and service providers are The consumer opportunity is very increasingly looking to make advertising much the providers' problem; and many more relevant to the new paradigms analysts fear the worst, with some going in viewing. Yet wanting to do so is one as far as predicting carnage from thing; actually being able to offer a supplier point as the fight to gain personalised viewing while allowing highly customer share becomes cut-throat. targeted advertising in a cost-effective page twenty two Cable & Satellite International march-april 2007
  2. 2. IPTV headends manner is another. Those wanting to "Telco-based IPTV distribution suffers satisfy their end customers' increasing with lag and degradation, affecting high demands will have to invest overall QoS, and has significant heavily in the fundamental video server technology, such as in the headend, IT/processing overheads. Moreover, in order to meet the requirements of there is a train of thought among quality and responsiveness. Furthermore, some in the industry that, right now, such technology will be different for cable players such as the fledgling Telco-based IP-based video is not yet ready for entrants. So what is this going to mean? mass-market video distribution - and this is based on analysing SD Addressing the needs of a personalised world services, let alone HDTV." Telco-based IPTV players have an intrinsic advantage in addressing the needs of quality of service (QoS), and has Such a set up negatively impacts upon the personalised world over their cable significant IT/processing overheads. the responsiveness and expense rivals in the fact that their networks are We see IPTV 2.0 taking on a more compared with cable devices. Operators intrinsically based on point-to-point cable type architecture and evolving can solve this issue by looking to add connections, which make personalisation to a metro distribution type of more intelligence at the headend so that a lot easier to achieve. infrastructure such as FiOS. We also more processing is done there rather For Moses Zelniker, associate VP see the infrastructure migrating to super than at the STB. of Scopus Video Networks, content head-ends with metro level content Not only should this overcome personalisation and targeted advertising insertion, metro 'Hot Zones' as is being the issue of responsiveness, it should will take time to happen but, most developed in the Netherlands.” improve the reliability of the STBs importantly, will happen thanks to the rate In assessing the difference between deployed in the field, thus boosting of development of the enabling headend cable and telco-based IP networks the overall QoS. There are clear technology on which a lot of the service another issue that comes management advantages from quality thresholds will depend. to light is that of respon- having single instances of “Technology for personalisation in the siveness and the inherent software at headends rather advertising back office is getting there complexity of an than having to deploy vast and dynamic scheduling. The technology IP-based set top amounts of distributed for the hub to connect to the back office box (STB) deployed software in STBs, and and scheduler and insert ads into time- matters. Typically, an this fits in very nicely shifted content is being developed and IP STB needs a larger with the advent of going forward with more massive and processor with much personalisation and higher quality end products,” he says. more memory and target advertising. But it's important to recognise that more software than In this evolution, not only are the headend technologies a cable equivalent. however, there are developing apace, the dynamics for the telco-based networks and cable networks will be different. Stephen Reeder, managing director, Europe for ICTV, explains: “In a cable network, there are two different types of headend; the centralised headend and then the distributed or edge node. In telco IPTV, because the size of most of the networks so far is reasonably small, they typically only have one headend.” Mahmud Noormohamud, VP of business development at Net Insight, concurs and adds that currently the cable distribution is more efficient and uniform, although currently being throttled by lack of frequency availability. He comments: “IPTV distribution suffers with lag and degradation, affecting overall Cable & Satellite International march-april 2007 page twenty three
  3. 3. IPTV headends some crucial parameters to development, As the networks roll out, more extensive infrastructure solutions already support warns ICTV's Reeder, and the time it takes investment in the adequate technology dynamic targeted advertising within VOD, to get the pieces into place is crucial, will be required, as will smart planning and we are evolving our products to potentially obviating any edge that of the network. Danny Wilson, president support the standards as they are a player thinks it may have. “As the and CEO of Pixelmetrix, explains: “The big completed. In addition, in the cable networks grow, offering network capacity challenge for IP guys is to get any type of space, switched digital video is a key is going to be a real problem for the IPTV content delivered reliably and consistently. enabling technology that will both free net operators, especially when they start The responsiveness of the system and up bandwidth for more advanced to explore personalisation. Right now, channel changing relates probably to the applications, and will directly enable a lot of the IPTV networks are integration of the head end and where targeted advertising within broadcast basically offering cable TV you put your video servers. You need to video streams.” packages - typically up to engineer it so that the most often used Software is indeed vital, suggests 100 channels - and it's content is kept on small video servers Kasenna's VP of marketing Mark Crandon, mostly linear channels with distributed along the edge of the network, in satisfying future QoS demands, schedules at the moment. and the long tail at a more cost-effective claiming that there is work to be done, The on-demand offerings centralised location where the access time and not just by the headend technology are typically played out is not that important.” providers. Crandon believes that recent close to the DSLAM and It's going to be important for service acquisitions by the large networking it's that on-demand one-to- providers to determine key performance technology companies have shown how one relationship between the indicators and some, including Miles relevant the market is, but points to DSLAM and the customer Hudson, business development director where he believes the real focus will be: that, for a long time, IPTV has at Tandberg Television, believe that this “The real heavy lifting will be done by claimed as being its differentiator. should be allowed by abstracting the head those including ecosystems and video Unfortunately for the telco-based end performance into the OSS/BSS layer. server folk, and not necessarily in the players, in the time that it has taken for a He says, “Even if we are streaming good headend,” he argues. lot of the middleware to be in production quality video, a mechanism is also and ready, cable TV networks have also required to ensure that a good quality The telco vs cable debate will created an on-demand infrastructure.” of service to deliver the video. The blur in the near future Another crucial current fact is that network differences between IPTV Yet those in the know say that the many analysts believe that telco-based and cable are probably the major endgame is that in about five years time IPTV distribution suffers with lag and contributors to these types of there will be no real difference between degradation affecting overall QoS and discussions,” says Hudson. what the telco-based IPTV players has significant IT/ processing overheads. and the cable companies will be offering. QoS at a manageable cost is a big issue A question of standards People assume that a telco-based network for IPTV distribution; the customers Standards is an issue that has will be more innovative with more services demand high quality output - in fact, not gained many headlines, but it because their owners can throw more some telco-based IPTV players in the is an essential issue for headend money at problems, but in reality the US and Europe have begun offering high technology development, argues Phil same services will be available to cable definition services in order to keep up Simpson, director of On Demand operators because all will be able to offer with their cable- and satellite-based rivals Solutions at SeaChange International. the same mechanism of transport. - and will have to bite the financial bullet “A key development is the advancement Nick Fielibert, vice president, CTO to supply it. of standards, in particular IMS, and chief architect Europe & Asia Moreover, there is a train of thought PacketCable 2.0 and OCAP. These will of Scientific-Atlanta, predicts that there among some in the industry that right enable the infrastructure necessary may be challenges for headend now IP-based video distribution is not to support new technologies and will technology suppliers, but there shouldn't yet ready for mass-market video provide the foundation for rapid be technology -based ones that distribution (and this is based on deployment of new applications,” companies like his can't handle. analysing SD services, let alone HDTV.) he comments. “Our headend software “This future may be long or short but, in the end, it will all be “The big challenge for IP guys is to get about the innovation and the quality of service that operators are offering any type of content delivered reliably to their subscribers. However, the end and consistently. The responsiveness game will be the guy who has the of the system and channel changing best customer relationship and serve the best content. Quality of experience relates probably to the integration will win irrespective of what network of the headend and where you put companies will have. It all just means your video servers.” more opportunities,” he opines. An optimist, obviously. CSI page twenty four Cable & Satellite International march-april 2007