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Imagine Communications, empowering the media and entertainment industry through transformative innovation, has unveiled a potentially industry-altering strategic initiative targeted at maximising the competitive standing and prominence of video service providers in the media and entertainment industry value chain. The primary objective of the company’s unified distribution initiative is to empower content distributors with the ability to accelerate the modernization of their networks by facilitating the transition of critical operations to next-generation, Internet-based networks.
PayTV operators in recent years have built out HTTP-based networks that use adaptive bitrate (ABR) technologies to stream programming and ads to Internet-connected devices, including smartphones, tablets, PCs and connected televisions. These new over-the-top (OTT) networks are often built in parallel with traditional video transport networks that deliver content to subscribers’ televisions through set-top boxes (STBs). The burden and expense of maintaining multiple video delivery and ad insertion infrastructures is inhibiting the ability of some video service providers to innovate and modernize their infrastructures through the adoption of next-generation technologies that introduce new orders of agility and flexibility.
Imagine Communications’ unified distribution initiative is designed to address these issues by enabling content distributors to consolidate multiple video delivery and ad insertion infrastructures into a software-based, state-of-the-art HTTP network that uses ABR technology. By transferring primacy from legacy to next-gen architectures, video service providers can significantly reduce capital and operational expenses and increase their ability to explore new business opportunities by moving operations to software-based, datacenter environments built on generic computing and networking platforms.
“The role of nearly every player in the media and entertainment industry ecosystem is being redefined by shifting video consumption patterns and the reordering of longstanding value chains,” said Steve Reynolds, CTO of Imagine Communications. “PayTV providers are being buffeted by new media challengers that are capable of streaming high-quality and high-demand video over broadband connections. By adopting a unified distribution architecture, cable operators and other content distributors will be well positioned to not only withstand these competitive threats but also differentiate their services in a crowded marketplace by delivering a unique and highly personalized video consumption experience.”
The cornerstone of Imagine Communications’ unified distribution strategy is the Selenio™ Video Delivery Edge (VDE), an HTTP-to-UDP gateway designed to allow cable operators and other video service providers to streamline the consolidation of legacy and next-gen networks. Positioned at the edge of the network, the Selenio VDE converts ABR-based content into transport stream-compatible signals that are delivered to subscribers through existing STBs.
By bridging legacy and next-generation networks, the software-based Selenio VDE assists PayTV providers in eliminating the overlap in the core of their networks. Cable operators, for example, can begin to reduce the number of transcode operations in the network, significantly decreasing operational cost while at the same time improving video quality.
Similarly, Selenio VDE is designed to enable video service providers to retire outdated hardware-based ad splicers by leveraging the same ad insertion technology currently being used to feed commercial spots to Internet-connected devices. The replacement of hardware-dependent systems with a software-based ad insertion ecosystem significantly increases deployment flexibility. Cable operators, which may maintain hundreds of head-ends and thousands of ad zones, are now able to locate ad insertion functionality anywhere in their networks.
Additional advantages of a unified distribution approach include both short- and long-term potential benefits:
Imagine Communications offers a broad portfolio of products and solutions that enable video service providers to adopt a unified distribution strategy. The portfolio is anchored by the company’s market-leading family of distribution and ABR encoding solutions, including SelenioFlex™, SelenioNext™ and the recently introduced Selenio One. The xG AIM™ manifest manipulator is a field-proven, multiplatform ad insertion solution complemented by the Telurio™ family of unified distribution products, which include market-leading packaging and cloud DVR functionality.
Imagine Communications will be demonstrating solutions supporting its unified distribution initiative at booth 1644 at the INTX show in Boston, beginning today. For additional details about the initiative, download the white paper, Unified Distribution: The Path Forward for Video Service Providers.