SAT>IP on Delivering the Future of Satellite TV
With consumer expectations constantly evolving in a saturated market, pay TV operators need a reliable and efficient way to broadcast high quality content, keeping the viewer engaged when they’re away from their television set. With new pay TV services from Apple and the BBC and ITV recently adding to the competition, operators need to be able to stand out and diversify their offerings.
SAT>IP aims to enable a seamless multi-screen TV experience, including 4K content, without the need for a high-speed home broadband connection. The technology takes a conventional satellite TV signal and converts it to an Internet Protocol-(IP) based data stream. This can be transmitted across a standard wired or wireless IP network in the home, and viewed on all multimedia and IP compatible devices, such as smart TVs, PCs, tablets, gaming devices and smartphones.
As the adoption of UHD TVs becomes more mainstream, the demand for 4K sports matches, movies and top series is creating a huge opportunity for satellite-TV providers to demonstrate a compelling advantage. The ability of Over-the-Top (OTT) services to deliver premium linear 4K content is still limited by the lack of FTTH and other high speed broadband technologies. Globally the average broadband speed is only 9.1 Megabits Per Second (Mbps), according to research compiled by Cable. This makes satellite with its downstream bandwidth of up to 500 Mbps, an attractive option for the delivery of 4K premium content to every subscriber, irrespective of local broadband availability.
The OTT revolution has drastically changed the way in which audiences consume video. Modern-day TV consumers don’t just want high quality video content, they want it delivered across any multimedia device in the home. A key benefit of SAT>IP is the ability to deliver, multi-screen services even to locations where broadband is not reliable enough to handle live, high-definition video. Using SAT>IP in areas of low broadband speed aims to democratize access to high quality, multi-screen TV experiences.
Today, around 50 percent of pay-OTT subscribers in the U.S. purchase multiple subscription services, according to research from Parks Associates. Meanwhile, satellite TV services are commonly based on a per-household model for delivery of a bundle and require a Set-Top-Box (STB), cabling, and HDMI enabled screens in each viewing location. This can make satellite unavailable to the 30 percent of people that rent homes, or to those who are unwilling/unable to take a long-term satellite pay TV subscription. Using SAT>IP aims to help enable operators to move subscriber authentication into the device so they can offer flexible, personalized subscriptions. This could include offering individual subscriptions in a housing development or office, or to temporary rental properties such as Airbnb. Another alternative would be offering personalized access to content for different family members — for example, a kids’ TV bundle on a iPad, premium sports for the big TV in the den, etc. By moving to an IP/DRM based approach satellite providers can unlock this potential for 2nd screen-based subscriber options.
The SAT>IP Alliance membership (Arcadyan, Eutelsat, HISPASAT, Irdeto, MaxLinear, NAGRA, Panasonic, SES, Verimatrix, and Zinwell) created an ecosystem of easy to deploy, flexible solutions which is currently supported by over 40 manufacturers and technology companies and satellites covering 95 percent of the globe and reaching over a billion potential viewers.The rush to 4K could be a tipping point for satellite providers to find new ways to differentiate their services. The combination of satellite and IP can be the ideal route to showing what a premium 4K experience can be, regardless of broadband network capabilities.
Combining satellite with an in-home IP network aims to offer service providers, operators, and broadcasters the best way to deliver low latency content across multi-screen, multi-device experience with ease. This enables satellite providers to guarantee true 4K quality across multiple screens in the home, and allows them to clearly differentiate their 4K offerings — especially when compared to OTT services which cannot guarantee 4K quality over broadband networks.
Thomas Wrede is the president of the SAT>IP Alliance and VP of new technology and standards at SES Video.