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ETIA 2015: Panel on multi-screen content delivery: How many screens before I say no more?

June 18, 2015

Colin Dixon of nScreen Media provided some background stats to help set the stage for a discussion of second screen connectivity. iOS and Android split mobile video almost evenly, but interestingly connected TVs were as large a market as the two of them combined. Part of this is due to changing viewing habits throughout the day. Mornings saw the most use of mobile devices, while evening viewing moved to the connected TV.

Will Law of Akamai kicked off the panel with a description of the difficulty of caching and distributing the many different streaming and compression formats, and the progress in reducing the complexity through projects like common encryption and consolidation around MPEG-DASH instead of many of the older streaming formats. Needing to transcode, or even repackage, a stream on delivery is a major consumer of processing power, so they are also working on ways to do that in advance.

Mark Adams of Accedo addressed the complexity of developing an application for the wide variety of connected TVs. Each new platform is designed to provide new capabilities, and perhaps simplify future development, but since all the old platforms still need to be supported, the result is more complexity. Development frameworks can make this a little easier, but he explained that there is no easy answer. Many developers are being more selective about which devices they support. HTML5 holds out the promise of a unified environment, but only addresses about 60% of the development and testing effort.

Jim Monroe of Net2TV spoke about the advantages of the new platforms, especially the ability of broadcasters to see what viewers are doing on various platforms to customize the experience they provide. That can include both an interactive experience on a small screen, and a lean-back version for large-screen viewing, for example. It also makes it possible to personalize channels, with programs that match the viewer's particular interest.

Chris Cukor of LG said they see WebOS as a way to attract developer support even though LG is an emerging platform, because of its native HTML5 support and flexibility through its Connect SDK to play content designed for a wide-variety of platforms including Chromecast.

The panel agreed that the bandwidth required by UHD will be a challenge going forward, as well as getting user data back from the device maker to the advertisers. Platform fragmentation was also reiterated as an issue that is only getting worse. All the vendors agreed that managing the user data generated is also a challenge. Akamai, for example, gets about 50 million user requests per second (serving about 29 Terabits in that same time), that generate 100 million log entries that need to be analyzed for customer billing.

Tag(s): UHD , ETIA

David Cardinal

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