The newly launched UK TalkTalk TV service delivering live multicast and on demand content via the recently released YouView connected TV set top box is the first major TV service to exploit the latest high performance video compression technology from ATEME. TalkTalk selected ATEME’s TITAN platform for the YouView based service after being highly impressed by the picture quality delivered by the underlying software encoder called EAVC4, according to its Director of TV technology Brian Paxton.
“We needed to upgrade our current broadcast head end to allow us to expand our channel line-up, and looked at all the main encoding vendors,” said Paxton. “After evaluating these options we selected ATEME as the impressive picture quality achieved by the new ATEME EAVC4 technology exceeded that of the other vendors.”
TalkTalk has been using ATEME products since 2007, starting with offline encoders for preparing movie and other on demand content. “Even then we were impressed by the quality of the product,” said Paxton. But now ATEME has opened up an even bigger gap over its rivals with the EAVC4 compression engine, which enables operators to optimize video content for specific screen sizes and available bandwidths. EAVC4 represents a major leap forward in performance, with drastic speed improvements for all video quality (VQ) settings, and the ability either to encode faster at the current VQ level, or to significantly increase VQ while maintaining the current encoding speed.
The EAVC4 video encoding architecture exploits a combination of multi-processor and multi-core 64-bit architecture, and multi-threading from slice level up through macro block level, to achieve its efficiency gains. This has involved a complete redesign by ATEME, resulting in up to 20 per cent bandwidth gains for progressive and interlaced content based on objective measures, and even higher gains based on visual perception.
For TalkTalk these capabilities are essential as it campaigns to become one of the UK’s major pay TV providers in the multiscreen era, leveraging its extensive content catalogue to target its existing base of 4 million broadband customers. The TV service is free to these existing broadband customers after payment of a £50 ($80) installation fee for the YouView set top box, and will provide access to over 100 broadcast channels, including free to air programming from the BBC, ITV and many others, as well as extra paid premium channels such as Sky Sports.