Just when will the Internet be the primary
delivery mechanism for TV? Depends on who you ask. Some streaming guys at the second annual Entertainment
Technology in the Internet Age conference
at Stanford University said it may not be far away.
There are definite signs of improved delivery, said Dr. Hui Zhang of Conviva.
Zhang said his company has technology that measures, second-by-second, the
quality of the video experience. Last World Cup, 1 MBps, versus multiple MBps,
and twice as many online viewers this year, he said. Buffering rates have
improved dramatically as well.
All that said, the Interwebs is a great big frontier with lots of moving parts.
“It’s not just about encoding and decoding,” Zhang said. “There’s a path that’s
not an equal system and that nobody owns end-to-end.”
Rodolfo Vargas of EyeIO said there was a lot to learn to make over-the-top TV
work, “from camera to sensor to the encoding part to the delivery network to
the device to the display. Then how can we make it into a business? We’re using
H.264… We have H.265, but we’re not using because of the patents.”
Dolby’s Jean-Christophe Morizur went to quality: “How can we enhance the visual
experience? Fundamentally it’s the resolution and the frame rate; 4K versus
high dynamic range and color gamut. We’re not locked into a codec,” a decided
advantage over traditional TV providers, particularly broadcast.
Jim Helman of MovieLabs said studios are interested in higher resolution,
higher dynamic range and wider color gamut—in delivering video at the range of
“It does take standards,” he said. “How do you get picture from set-top that
does HDR to the TV set?”
The next HEVC iteration is supposed to have HDR support, he said. Cable has the
largest pipe for IP delivery using DOCSIS, he said, “but it will be challenging
to get some of these capabilities deployed over cable networks at the speed
that it can now be done on the Internet. “
Ian Blaine of thePlatform said, “IP is clearly a faster flywheel. If you don’t
support services that embrace iPads, game consoles and other things, you’ll
become increasingly uncompetitive.”
ATSC now defines what TV is, said eScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon, who moderated the
discussion. “But as we move online, it’s not just about television, but video,
data and behaviors wrapped around that experience. Or is it just about the ‘TV
It’s more, Helman said.
“On interactive front, who wants to scroll through a 300-page epg? As soon as
you go online, you’re not constrained by typical delivery methods,” he said.
“It’s the Web, stupid.”
Dixon pressed: “We know what it means to create in ATSC. Do we know what it is
to create on the Internet?”
Helman said the business was in “a very early phase of finding out what the
ideal online consumer entertainment experience is.”
Dolby’s Morizur said it was time to online video providers to attend to audio.
“OTT video has approached Blu-ray quality,” he said. “A quality experience is
what you hear as well. The
next frontier for OTT may be the audio immersive experience. Audio has to be an
integral part of that conversation.”
Redefining the experience of viewing might include multiple audio tracks, e.g.
players on the field or basic tutorial, he said.
Google Glass. Yes, Dixon said that.
Zhang said Google Glass probably would lend itself more to controlling the
experience rather than having it.
“It’s hard to imagine watching TV on my
glasses,” he said.