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Broadcast Asia 2013

SINGAPORE—Broadcast Asia, held concurrently with CommunicAsia and enterpriseIT at the Marina Bay Sands, returns to Singapore June 18-21. The show is more or less a midway point between the NAB Show in Las Vegas in April, and the IBC Exhibition in Amsterdam in September. It features a world-class conference program and more than 700 exhibitors.

In a world where Europe, the United States and Japan are all facing poor to mixed economic prospects, the Asia/Pacific region served by Broadcast Asia remains a good growth market for many manufacturers.

“Asia/Pacific is an extremely strong region for us and we are extending our presence in the region with the recruitment of new personnel,” said Philippe Fort, CEO of French media asset management company Netia. “Broadcast Asia offers us an ideal opportunity to introduce our new sales representative, Singapore-based Winston Seow, to our network of distributors and clients.”

Another European company seeing growth in the region is Germany’s Riedel, known for comms kit and fiber-based real-time video, audio and data networks.

“Broadcast Asia comes at an exciting time for Riedel, said Joe Tan, general manager of Southeast Asia for Riedel. “We’ve not only completed an expansion of our Singapore office, but also have extended both our area sales team and our rental stock.”

This year there is one industry trend that is well underway and very much real, over-the-top, or OTT, TV—a reference to second- and third-screen distribution. A few others that may not be on many broadcaster’s near-term radar screens nonetheless deserve respect, such as 4K technologies, the cloud, DVB-T2, and perhaps integrating social media in broadcast.

If the show floor at NAB was a precursor to what will be on tap in Singapore, the broadcast industry can put off 3D and all its complexity and ROI uncertainty for a few more years at least. OTT is by its nature is crossover and both the BroadcastAsia and CommunicAsia show floors and conference rooms will feature the topic, in far too many presentations and panels to discuss in full here. One thing that stands out after a quick look through the conference program: OTT seems to have a few viable business models.

Fedor Ezhov, chief operating officer of SPB TV, is making a presentation on day one that will touch on the subject. Ezhov says many business analysts see a great value in the Asia Pacific market, with its extensive fixed broadband and mobile subscriber base.

“We see a strong demand for mobile TV services in India, where video broadband networks are not so well established yet, and online TV services were primarily delivered over mobile 3G and edge connections,” Ezhov said. “Gaining popularity, they made way for OTT TV services available over any internet network, including Wi-Fi.”

Ezhov said a good example of OTT TV implementation is nexGTv in India. This is a joint mobile TV project of SPB TV and Indian value-added service provider DigiVive. Using SPB TV technology and having a strong collection of Indian live and on-demand TV channels, aggregated by DigiVive, nexGTv has already gathered more than 5 million subscribers and has become the most popular mobile TV service in India, second only to YouTube.

As for chasing the elusive dollar, or rupee, Ezhov said revenue generation will vary by region: “While paid subscriptions still work the best in North America and Europe, we expect that Asia OTT TV services will benefit from monetization with targeted advertisements. This revenue stream has shown itself to be very efficient and has even become a main one in many regions including Russia, Eastern Europe, India and South America.”

Jon Sonsteby, senior director of Business Sales and Development in TV Software, for Ericsson, is giving his own presentation entitled “Monetizing OTT: Content Owners Competing in a New Game,’” and also participating in a “Power Panel” on the subject.

“We are certainly seeing that consumer demands are rapidly changing and evolving in complexity throughout the Asian market. A recent study from ABI Research predicts that the Asian OTT market has experienced year-on-year growth of 50 percent, with the continued spread of connected CE and increasingly mobile devices and tablets, expected to push the market past $20 billion by 2015.”

Sonsteby added that Ericsson’s 2012 ConsumerLab study showed growth in the percentage of consumers who said they were willing to pay for on-demand and time-shifted content.

“This is in fact, the fastest growing trend in terms of a service the consumer is willing to pay for, up 8 percentage points in a single year,” he said.

Sonsteby said that content owners can enhance the consumer experience with new, more ‘interactive’ features, including capping adaptive bit rates at lower levels for nonpremium subscribers; live channel expansion—more linear channels for premium users; cross-selling media (e.g. a song in a movie, game/app related to TV or movie) through effective aggregation from multiple metadata sources; geo-location advertising; more in-depth second-screen apps for interaction with the content itself, and so on.

Vimond’s Helge Høibraaten will also be on the Power Panel on monetizing OTT. Høibraaten said he expects he and his fellow panelists to address topics such as how to identify the different business models in the OTT space; how multichannel platforms are engaging with OTT delivery in terms of bundling it with pay TV; managing content in the complex world of OTT licensing; the right content strategy for OTT TV; and when the market will reach maturity.

The conference has a good bit of content that focuses on real world OTT and multiscreen experiences, with case studies from within the region and abroad.

In Singapore, for example, MediaCorp has partnered with OTT platform provider Tvinci to provide a multiscreen service through its mobile content paid service, Toggle. Delegates at the Broadcast Asia 2013 International Conference can hear expert views on “Making OTT a Business Reality in Asia,” from Seow Yoke Kong, vice president of technology Services of Mediacorp, and Ido Wiesenberg, co-founder and vice president of Business Development for Tvinci.

Harrie Tholen, Asia general manager for Civolution, will discuss some out-of-market platforms, namely the successful first steps that have been undertaken, such as FX on BSkyB and Sky Italia. Thierry Fautier, senior director of Convergence Solutions for Harmonic will provide a case study entitled “The World’s First Commercial Deployment of MPEG-DASH OTT Multiscreen Service.”

As far as the kit to get a high-quality OTT image to the end user, Danny Wilson, president and CEO of Singapore-based Pixelmetrix, will bring his broad knowledge of the market to the conference in a presentation on “Ensuring Effective Delivery of Content Through OTT and Multiscreen.” Ensuring quality-of-service is just one refinement taking place in the technology. Another is subtitling.

“Although OTT has indeed been around for some time, we still see it as an emerging technology in need of refinement—certainly in terms of subtitling,” said Gary Glover of U.K. company Screen Systems. “There are several timed-text offerings out there for the customer to choose from, but they often suffer from limitations and errors: Positioning of the text on the screen, aliasing issues and variable font widths, for example.”

Glover said that those accustomed to watching high quality subtitles can find this disturbing, so Screen Systems has endeavored to solve these issues and present a technology that allows high-grade, accurate and consistent subtitles in OTT content.

“Up until NAB in April this year, screen’s OTT subtitling capability had been purely a working concept,” he said. “But even in its infancy, we received an astonishing amount of interest across the world but particularly in Asia. Discussions have been in view to offering a predictable and consistent subtitle provision for both hard-of-hearing and other language audiences in what is appearing to be a rapidly adopted broadcast route in Asia.”

Digital Rapids is another company central to many multiscreen efforts. Neville Paterson, regional manager of sales in Australasia for Digital Rapids, said the company would showcase an array of powerful enhancements for the recently released Digital Rapids Transcode Manager 2.0 automated, high-volume media processing software and its underlying Kayak dynamic workflow platform.

New capabilities being previewed at the show include support for the HEVC/H.265 compression format; 4K UltraHD encoding; Dolby E audio decoding and more. HEVC encoding—which can reduce bandwidth requirements and file sizes by as much as 50 percent relative to AVC—is being previewed in Transcode Manager 2.0 with technology from Kayak ecosystem partner Vanguard Video.

Vanguard’s ‘V.265’ heVC codec will be available as a modular component integrating directly into the Kayak Platform. 4K Ultra HD distribution is also being demonstrated in Transcode Manager 2.0.

As much as 4K displays, super-efficient encoding, and the rapid ubiquity of multiscreen OTT in many markets will be front-and-center, plan old terrestrial transmission still plays an important role in many Asia/Pacific countries. But even this has taken on a modern twist, with some markets announcing plans to skip a generation of technology and go from analog to DVB-T2 transmission.

There’s a whole conference track dedicated to -T2, with local experiences and plans discussed along with basic discussions of the benefits of the technology.

An infrastructure and transmission track will look at several ways technology will improve the industry, with topics such as HEVC, 5.1 audio and 4K dotting the program. A chief technology/information officer panel will also be a part of this track, according to track chair Chuck Kelly of Nautel. Nautel is an established player in the international radio transmitter market that is now offering television broadcast products in response to ongoing customer requests. Kelly himself will give a presentation on “Examining the Design Philosophy and Practical Implementation of a New Digital Television Transmitter.”

Kelly said that dramatically increasing costs for electricity is driving a focus on efficiency in transmitters and other equipment, and manufacturers are responding with higher efficiency designs.

“Increasing ambient noise levels in the MW [medium wave] through UHF bands is causing broadcasters to re-think their transmitter power level, antenna type and transmitter location,” Kelly said. “This is as a result of higher man-made noise from fluorescent lamps, CPU-based consumer devices, light dimmers, etc. The result is that while coverage may in the past have been limited by co-channel or adjacent channel stations, or atmospheric noise, station coverage is now being limited by the manmade noise environment.”