The Quest for Highest Quality and Best Picture at NAB 2011
So, this time I was not sipping coffee at a foreign airport nor feeding my sweet tooth with poffertjes. This year I drove to NAB and it is hard to type while driving 320 miles back from Las Vegas to San Diego. I still can’t find a good app on my Android phone that would take my dictations and convert them to text. But back to NAB. It seems like tablets were everywhere and if your booth didn’t have one, you were not cool (of course we had one or two as well). And it is all related to over-the-top (OTT) distribution of content, especially video. I can’t help but feel that the direction the industry is going is questionable: from HD video on a large screen TV to a low-bitrate, low-resolution video on a portable device. I know, I get it, it is all about mobility and “on my time” and “wherever I am.” So it certainly has its benefits and the video quality is improving every day through better implementations of adaptive bit-rate streaming and ever increasing bandwidth. The content quality is also improving as studios are getting more comfortable to release pay-TV movies and episodes when they are protected by conditional access (CA) or digital rights management (DRM). This was the point of our production-ready OTT demos streaming protected video to iPhones, Android phones, laptops and Macs, and yes, even iPads and Android tables (to make sure we fit right into the NAB buzz!). Where did the quest for highest quality and best picture disappear? Actually, it did not.
As we discussed with Herve Utheza, president of our partner company RCDb, during a session on "Tapping into the Blu-ray Potential," OTT is also coming to our living rooms bringing Hollywood content to a device that everybody is familiar with, is simple to use and always brought quality entertainment for the whole family. Yes, you guessed it; the good ol’ Blu-ray player. It is the most deployed entertainment device (including BD-enabled game consoles) already connected to your living-room large screen TV. And now, when you connect it to your broadband and insert the RCDb-Verimatrix disc (or rather a disc branded with your OTT service), Eureka! You have access to potentially thousands of movie titles, TV episodes and even live content from the comfort of your sofa (and no, it does not serve beer yet – we need to leave some room for phase 2). And the beauty is that it plays on all BD players with BD-Live 2.0 capability (virtually all recently manufactured players) and it has a standard built-in DRM called Advanced Access Content System (AACS) used to protect all Blu-ray titles today. A popular device, standardized around the world, capable of delivering high value paid content and already purchased by the consumer. Sounds like a sweet spot to me. Speaking of sweet spots - if you still don’t know what poffertjes are, let’s meet at IBC 2011 in Amsterdam.