Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Taking the Lead in Content Protection

In an IP video world that is a jumble of sources, formats and devices, protecting content is no easy task.  So when we’re recognized for doing that task well, it’s especially fitting that we take a bow.  According to SNL Kagan, Alticast and our AltiProtect security system are in rarified company as one of the global leaders in IPTV content protection. 

Here’s what’s special about AltiProtect:  It provides service providers and rights holders with the flexibility and cost-effectiveness they need to safeguard SD, HD and UHD premium content – using pay-TV conditional access (CAS) or digital rights management (DRM) -- from piracy and unauthorized use.  What’s more, it can span the full range of pay-TV architectures and device deployments, from legacy to next-generation systems with a multi-DRM solution.

As the industry moves toward new investments in premium 4K/UHD content, Alticast is once again leading the way in championing greater security – this time through the use of specialized content protection techniques, such as the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) with 128 bit keys.  To learn more about how Alticast can safeguard your content, please visit the Content Protection section of our website. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Alticast will demonstrate at CES 2016 how solutions at the intersection of pay-TV and consumer electronics are enabling cost-effective delivery of new services that engage millennials, enhance video experiences and allow for new services that increase the value of pay-TV bundles.

At its exhibit at the Venetian (Rooms 30-224 and 30-225), Alticast will show examples of its innovation across emerging technologies –including Android, RDK, cloud and IoT services – that build on successful deployments with operators worldwide.

During the January 6-9 event, Alticast will show how:
·       Latin American, U.S. mid-tier and Tier 1 operators can replicate the experiences of a leading Vietnamese operator that successfully deployed a completely integrated suite of Alticast products for delivery of live and on-demand services to low-cost set-top boxes and mobile devices.
·       Pay-TV operators with large footprints of legacy set-top boxes can migrate the user experience to the cloud, enabling delivery of advanced user experiences and personalized services while preserving investment in existing hardware.
·       Operators can engage millennials by simply and cost-effectively implementing an elegant, personalized and sophisticated approach to navigation using multi-pronged metadata connections and state of the art discovery techniques.
·       The versatility of the Alticast Application Framework enables operators to adapt seamlessly to changing market needs by supporting Android-based STB solutions as well as RDK, allowing use of native and HTML5 applications and providing a migration path to IPTV.
·       U.S. mid-tier, Latin American and other operators can partner with CE device manufacturers to create complete solutions that enrich content discovery, including single-search integration between pay-TV and OTT content catalogs and voice-activated navigation.
·       Home automation and other IoT functionality can be aggregated on existing STBs or new data gateways, allowing for partnerships and revenue sources that offer quick time-to-market, while leveraging the operators’ existing broadband infrastructures.

Media and industry analysts interested in meeting with Alticast executives at CES 2016 should contact to schedule a date and time.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Trends in Recommendation and UX at TVoT

I traveled to Television of Tomorrow (TVoT) last week in NY City. This show runs twice a year bouncing between NYC and San Francisco, and although the NYC conference is shorter, it is just as intense. There was the usual mix of targeted advertising, User Experience, and OTT trends resplendent with Periscope stars. I participated in a panel on recommendations and UX trends led by Patrick Donaghue, the longtime Cablevision UI visionary, and included representation from LG, Digital Smiths, Rovi, Freecast and Lingospot.

While recommendation engines have been around for sometime, they are starting to mature with new trends blending big data from social networking to increase the effectiveness of recommendations. Taking all those new data points and creating an innovative UX that addresses a new generation of viewers is the challenge put forth to Alticast UX designers. Our 4K AltiView 3 concept UX was shared to exemplify these new trends.  The biggest challenge is bringing all these great ideas together and getting them out in front of consumers.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Advertising Conundrum

When our blog kicked off in 2013 I wrote an entry about opting in or out, discussing some of the pros and cons. In that short time, cable advertising has started to mimic some of the internet ad methods to become better at targeting online viewers. While TV ad targeting lags a bit behind, cable companies are working hard at Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) to catch up, even using online behavior data for personalized ad selection. When I wrote the first blog post, I suggested I that wasn't too concerned about sharing my data if it helped focus the ads I saw, and generally I still agree with that statement. However, my behavior would suggest otherwise. The one shortcoming of online internet ads is the inability for it to know when you have made a purchase decision. I was getting ads for outdoor lighting over 3 months after I purchased the lights from that very company! Subsequently, I am now blocking ads in my browser.

A new measurement approach to online video banner ads has been in use for quite a while. Internet ads often allow skipping after a designated watch time. Some believe this provides a better value to advertisers by assuming a higher quality impression rate, by analyzing drop off rates and knowing the number of people who watched the full ad. In television, there are often contractual requirements to block ad skipping; this has fueled a growth in products that provide time shifting to circumvent the ads altogether, causing a legal uproar, and prompting a counter attack with software to block the blockers. However, it seems there might be value in similar on-line models for cable and advertisers to consider. Ad skipping could provide more data for determining how to target ads. Combining various data sets and using smart algorithms to place ads provides technical challenges, but has the resulting potential for better ad consumption. In the meantime, the only ads that definitely won't get skipped are the product placements inside the programs.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Pay-TV Strategies for Engaging Millennials

With Millennials accounting for one in every five dollars of consumer spending, there’s the need for for pay-TV operators to reshape the video experience of Generation Y’s unique viewing habits, including increases in online consumption, multitasking and gaming-related activity.  John Carlucci, President and CTO of Alticast US, recently spoke about how pay-TV can engage this high-value demographic through higher quality UIs, as well as innovations such as simultaneous viewing of multiple streams of content and transitioning between handheld devices and the television with the swipe of a finger.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Cable TV vs. Cable Broadband; the cat bird's seat

I read an article by Peter Kafta discussing a possible pullback of content resale to Netflix from top content companies, and followed it by an article by Michelle Clancy about how the cable companies will only benefit from Apple and others for cable broadband service growth. At TVOT last summer a further connecting viewpoint was made by Jennifer Mirgorod, Turner EVP of Brand Distribution, suggesting that Turner had been positioning their contracts for content long ago to avoid exclusivity so they could put their content in front of as many viable eyes possible.

The TV environment is changing at a fast pace. Cable Operator third quarter announcements highlighted that they had net gains in cable subscriptions, a hopeful trend away from losses, but if you looked at the numbers, the gains were a tiny fraction compared to their gains in broadband subscriptions. As Michelle pointed out, while the monthly broadband subscription dollar amount is significantly lower, the margins are much higher.

So it would seem that if the MSO's growth business is in their smart pipe to the home, they might prefer that content owners continue to sell to multiple outlets putting demand on the pipe and driving a desire from consumers to increase the bandwidth to the home. Will this shift in revenue change how MSO's contract for content? This is a conundrum for the MSO's as they strive to reinvigorate their video business against a consumption spectrum of video content options that multiply every year (reflected by the ever changing list of services on my smart TV).

From the content creator/owner point of view, I am not so sure they will abandon outlets, as Ms. Mirgorad makes a good point. The higher potential eyes the more opportunities for brand building and ad dollars (aside from paid non-ad services and blocker software).  So this may be more about the details in the contracts, than outright cancelation. Netflix is fast becoming the service that can most readily distribute content to a huge global audience, so I don't see them losing much steam. Their content pool will be more localized and diversified beyond the major US studios as they supply content to a multi-lingual and multi-cultural world.

The future for the Cable companies is fascinating right now. With a variety of approaches to attract millenials and cord-cutters; from MCN acquisitions (on-line Multi-Channel Networks), to skinny bundles, to delivering on consumer devices and more, operators are making every attempt to shore up the video business. It will be interesting to see what works best, but either way it looks like the cable companies will win on the other end with their expanding broadband business.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Securing UHD Content

If pay-TV is bringing high-value, proprietary sports content to 4K, is the threat of piracy far behind?

Rogers’ Communications’ recent announcement that it would offer a total of 100 baseball and hockey games in 4K next year, BT’s planned launch of a 4K sports channel and deployment of 4K STBs by forward-thinking operators such as Videotron all are signs of a growing recognition of the value of both the technology and the display enhancements enabled by its High Dynamic Range (HDR).

But as operators move the needle on content, what’s equally important is protecting that premium programming with stronger Conditional Access Systems (CAS).  While the 64-bit systems in use by most operators today is sufficient for current needs, better choices for securing higher-value 4K content -- now and in the future -- would be the 128-bit or 256-bit versions of the Advanced Encryption Standards (AES).

The coming availability of live sports can give pay-TV a competitive edge in countering early moves by Amazon, Netflix and over-the-top providers to leverage the growth of 4K.  You can read more here about the measures the industry can take to ensure that its investments in 4K production and delivery are protected as it brings that content to market.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Android in the Pay-TV Market

The growing footprint of Android in mobile devices has two implications for pay-TV operators:  the development of an enormous Android ecosystem that can create and support applications, as well as the increased availability of smartphone semiconductors.  In this video, John Carlucci, President and CTO of Alticast US, discusses how the pay-TV industry can expedite availability of advanced services by pulling Android technology, tools and applications into the television space.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Alticast on IoT

At last months IBC show, Alticast's Tiaan Schutte, President, EMEA, spoke with Advanced TV on the Smart Home and Internet of Things.  To watch the video, click here:

Monday, September 28, 2015

Cloud DVRs Are on the Rise

Telefónica, a telco IPTV operator in Spain, has nearly tripled its video subscriber total since December thanks to its cloud DVR rollout. Telefónica’s early success in Spain is a good indicator of what’s to come in North America when the benefits of cloud DVR services catch on.

A cloud-based DVR system offers a range of flexibility and accessibility that consumers can’t get through the traditional STB-based service. Consumers are able to schedule recordings from anywhere at any time, and then stream those recordings to mobile devices or computers without worrying about exceeding storage. They will also gain access to a variety of content libraries with a recommendation engine.

Because cable operators are able to remotely provide software updates to millions of homes through the cloud, consumers won’t have to deal with purchasing a new STB with more storage or even upgrading their current one. Alticast offers a cloud DVR solution that reduces maintenance of disk storage for operators while making it possible to add features and content as needed. It’s just a matter of time until the cloud DVR becomes the new standard, and Alticast has technology to keep up with the times.