Following the July 31 announcement that the commercial deployment of the MPEG-DASH (dynamic adaptive streaming over HTTP) standard is one step closer with the first live public trial, with live MPEG-DASH streaming of the 2012 London Olympics, John Withnell, product manager for Irdeto MediaManager, has noted increased traction for the standard, and its prospects for reducing complexity in content delivery, but suggests it is not a Silver Bullet for the industry.
Writing in an Irdeto ‘TV Everywhere’ blog post, Withnell points out that getting the right content, in the right format, with the right protection to the right devices, at the right time is a key requirement for delivering and monetising multi-screen video/TV Everywhere services. “While the proposition sounds simple, in reality it remains a heavily complex task involving multiple technology standards,” he admits.
He suggests that MPEG-DASH has the potential to accelerate market growth, enable interoperability between end-to-end solution components, reduce the cost of delivery and benefit end users through greater video content availability, and has the potential to replace existing proprietary technologies such as Apple’s HLS, Microsoft’s Smooth Streaming, and Adobe HTTP Dynamic Streaming. “A unified standard would be good for content publishers, who could produce one set of files that play on all DASH-compatible devices,” he suggests .
Although the DASH promoters group has industry support from companies such as Adobe, Microsoft, Harmonic, Thomson, Irdeto and many others who are working together to promote the adoption of the MPEG-DASH standard, Withnell notes that Apple has not and could well continue with its HLS standard. “This would well lead to there still being two video standards that must be supported. But two is better than three,” he states.
“The DASH standard has started to gain traction in the market over the past six months and we can look forward to some interesting demonstrations at IBC this year, with commercial deployments following in 2013 across a broad range of devices,” he predicts.
Withnell advises that when coupled with HTML5, MPEG-DASH will help pay-TV operators and broadcasters to deliver their content to as many devices as possible using the same set of media files. “This will drive cache efficiency, reduce storage costs and improve end-user experience,” he advises.
He points out that MPEG-DASH is codec agnostic, which means that it can be implemented in either H.264 or WebM. “Since neither codec is universally supported by all HTML5 browsers, this may mean that DASH users will still have to create multiple streams using multiple codecs. So DASH isn’t a Silver Bullet. It is also unclear whether DASH usage will be royalty-free, which may impact adoption by many potential users,” he suggests, confirming that Irdeto is working with its partners to ensure that it supports the emerging standard as it is adopted by the market.