Advanced Television

DVB gives DVB-I a boost together with Sofia Digital

September 22, 2021

Sofia Digital continues its fruitful co-operation with the DVB Project, which is an industry-led consortium of the world’s leading media and technology companies working together to design open technical specifications for digital media delivery. The new project involves the DVB-I standard (I for Internet), creating a central service list registry implementation to speed up the global adoption and applicability of the DVB-I standard itself.

The DVB-I standard aims to deliver any content to any device via any delivery method. In practise this means collecting terrestrial, cable, satellite, and internet delivery methods in one unified standard, using commonly agreed metadata, media encoding and data delivery standards.

Content in the DVB world of standards is commonly organized as services, i.e. different TV channels. In the past, Digital TV channels have been distributed to homes via antenna (terrestrial) cable or satellite reception. In the age of internet, traditional TV content has migrated to internet delivery as well. Until now, accessing this internet distributed content has lacked a common standard. DVB-I aims to change that.

In the context of DVB-I, the traditional concept of a TV service (channel) remains. The DVB-I metadata expands this concept to include all available delivery methods under one metadata specification. For example, all the services available under the leading European satellite provider, Astra, are also available as internet-delivered form. DVB-I enables easy access of all these different delivery methods under one “TV service”. Any TV channel that is delivered via satellite, cable, and internet, can have its metadata combined under the DVB-I Service list concept.

As everyone knows, there are tens of thousands of different TV channels available globally, with many services tailored for regional consumption. How can this vast amount of different TV channels be organized and accessed in a meaningful way? The answer is a collection of service lists, called Central Service List Registry. This registry, commonly abbreviated as “CSR”, combines all the available service lists (lists of available TV channels and their delivery methods) under one repository, and enables fast and efficient access of these lists – using a wide variety of different search criteria like nationality, language, genre, suitability for children, technical prowess (4K resolution, high dynamic range, etc) and popularity. The CSR enables browsing of different lists put together by TV companies and broadcast operators, as well as national regulators.

Building a CSR is a big task, involving high availability web servers, fast and reliable update of content and robust channel list management and user privilege systems. The main administrative part of the project is targeted at the top-level technical staff of a service provider or regulator. What the regular TV viewer will see on their TV, is better and wider selection of programs, with unbeatable possibilities of accessing content that interests just them. For regulators and broadcasters, it offers an opportunity to consolidate existing proprietary methods of cataloguing and classifying content under a new, widely adopted and supported open standard.

The DVB-I CSR in the new project is at first phase a skeleton/PoC implementation, aiming at the justification of the technical approach to be taken. One of the main purposes is to validate the CSR standard with the previously developed DVB-I reference application and other DVB-I client implementations that are already made available by various TV manufacturers and client application vendors.

The delivered first CSR implementation can be re-used in a separate final implementation and be expanded to fulfil the vision of a global and widely deployed DVB-I Central Service List Registry.

The DVB-I “skeleton” CSR service interface and implementation will be made freely and openly available for anyone interested to provide their own DVB-I Service Lists and any DVB-I receiver or client vendors who would like to validate or test their Service List Registry and Service discovery implementation.

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