IP Convergence Grows Up: Pay-TV Revisited?
Back in 2008, I wrote an article with the provocative title “IPTV is dead, long live IPTV” where we made the case that that no one would be talking about IPTV in five years - in what was then the crystal ball territory beyond 2013. We believed that all video delivery systems will simply be referred to as digital TV, and IP will underpin almost every aspect, regardless if it is a telco TV network or a hybrid satellite/broadband combination.
We can’t claim that we got everything right at that stage. The debate over technology naming and relevance still seems fierce sometimes, e.g. What is pay-TV vs. subscription OTT? Is “digital” just a property of Internet delivery or applicable to all of today’s video distribution?
Yet it seems the basic premise of the article has proven accurate; IP technology dominates all aspects of the discussion of TV services today. And we are seeing that the pay-TV industry is well advanced on integrating IP into both consumer facing and back office aspects of their product offerings. As we proposed, IP technology has proved its relevance to both the technical underpinnings delivering video and the expanding consumer experience. And, in no small way, it’s proven extremely relevant to our security segment that underpins the business of pay-TV.
Take our award-winning VCAS for Internet TV and VCAS for DASH revenue security solutions as a case in point. The vast majority of these are pay-TV operators (cable, satellite and IPTV) that have extended their service reach across the Internet to both new screen types and, in many cases, a larger customer base. The rate of increase in protected screens using these solutions is particularly dramatic – nearly doubling in 2013 - as the services introduced pick up momentum.
A few things are particularly striking as the influence of IP matures into the mainstream business of TV services:
- Progressive operators are fully embracing their role as a provider of services across the boundaries of physical network type - creating a symbiotic relationship that fully leverages IP-based OTT delivery and even incorporating pure OTT content sources into their service bundle (see: Com Hem: Why wouldn’t we integrate Netflix?,Time Warner Cable will let you junk your set-top box next year).
- The infrastructure related physical boundaries that defined pay-TV operators in the past are increasingly irrelevant to their competitive markets (How DishWorld became Dish’s online TV testbed, Now TV Movies and Sports Service)
- The significant technical and business advances in on-demand Internet TV delivery/streaming have not diminished the relevance of live content and in particular the broadcast/multicast technologies that help to efficiently delivery that live content (Streaming Video Can’t Scale At Cable TV Quality, Will Never Replace Traditional TV Distribution)
Our product development priorities are of course reflective of how service providers are adding Internet TV to their architecture and overall business model. For example our latest VCAS solution release now features Offline Viewing of VoD content for unconnected consumption on airplanes etc., as well as the pay-TV grade Output Protection and Copy Control management required for premium content services. For more information, download the latest VCAS for Internet TV Overview
Although the road to get to this point was full of twist and turns, we feel that our premier position in the security of connected devices reflects our long held beliefs in how this market has matured. We continue to believe that operators will continue their journey towards IP-based networks, which increasingly involves a shift away from platforms and hardware to products and software. Again we say - Long live IPTV!
And we just may have a new prediction around the concept of a software-defined operator, or what we like to call the “software-empowered operator.”
Feel free to leave a comment and give us your thoughts.