The curse of choice
Today, there is an almost limitless range of content choice for audiences; from live streams of football matches halfway across the world, to arthouse cinema films from the 70s,to the latest trending TV series – audiences can pick just about anything they want. And they can pick how, when and where they watch it too. And it’s broadband delivery which has facilitated this.
But as with all progress, there can be drawbacks. This range of choice can actually be prohibitive in how it affects the viewer experience. Remember back to the very early days of linear TV? You’d flick through the channels and pick the ‘least bad’ of a few options.
Now, how many times have you opened Netflix, Hulu or one of the major streaming providers, scrolled through endless options, and then quit in frustration? (Or worse, re-watch something for the hundredth time…)
It’s a genuine psychological phenomenon; often referred to as decision paralysis, ‘overchoice’ or the paradox/tyranny of choice. And it’s something content providers really need to consider if they want to enhance their viewer experience and retain customers.
For all the pleasure that endless on-demand access can bring, there is still very much a need and place for ‘traditional’ linear broadcast – it has a uniquely reassuring quality to it. Broadcasters aren’t going anywhere.
But users are still going to want the modern benefits of flexible, internet-based access and the ability to access linear TV in conjunction with wider on-demand options. Thus, one of the most crucial factors that content providers need to consider in combatting decision paralysis is the way that they present their offerings; i.e. – their user interface.
Clarity, consistency, and ease-of-use of use are all crucial. Search, discovery and navigation need to be straightforward, replicating as closely as possible the ‘traditional’ broadcast experience whilst blurring the lines between broadcast and broadband-based content.
The challenge of bringing content together
The problem is, creating such a unified, clear platform where audiences can access all of that content is a real challenge for a lot of content providers, especially when the portfolio of content is coming from different sources, in different formats, over different standards and transmission channels.
And, when their final destination is different too; with audiences seeking to consume across mobile phones, laptops and TVs, seamlessly switching between each.
Thus, a front-end solution that is clear and easy to use for audiences actually needs to be tied to something far more complex behind the scenes; something which takes disparate types of content from disparate sources across disparate transport streams, and makes it appear as one to a happily-oblivious audience.
DVB-I is bridging the gap
It’s this which the DVB-I standard seeks to address. An invaluable tool for content providers who need to integrate their traditional linear delivery into an internet-centric delivery model, it allows for the discovery of DVB-I services and the delivery of program metadata through the definition of DVB-I Service Lists, allowing for the provider to curate linear services in a way that suits internet-based access.
Moreover, it harmonises the way that these various forms of content are accessed, regardless of the device with which they are being accessed.
This means that the end-user can move from watching their favourite show on TV over cable, to their laptop in the office using broadband, to their phone on the move using 4g, and all the while they’ll be immersed in the same ecosystem.
In this way, DVB-I represents something complex, unique and absolutely invaluable to content providers. More than a mere hybrid video standard, it allows for both broadcast and broadband content to be delivered seamlessly, without needing to discern between the physical medium of delivery; be that satellite, cable or DTT.
With all this managed ‘behind the scenes’, end users are never troubled with the inconvenience of software updates to accommodate changes in the underpinning delivery structures being leveraged. It thus provides maximum flexibility to content providers, with minimum impact on audiences.
MainStreaming and DVB-I
At MainStreaming, we’re a big believer in DVB-I, and we’ve been working on a number of projects which have integrated this remarkable standard right at their heart. In particular, MainStreaming’s iMDP components have been key in the ongoing Mediaset project in Italy – which began as a Proof of Concept (PoC) and will hopefully, after subsequent phase three demos, emerge in 2023 as a full commercial undertaking.
The project allows for a range of content from various service providers under the wider Mediaset umbrella to be coordinated through the DVB-I standard, transported across a MainStreaming EDGE platform using both terrestrial delivery and DVB-DASH low latency standards, and ultimately delivered to audiences seamlessly across TVs, companion devices, broadband-connected computers and 4g mobile devices.
Between now and commercial launch, a range of extended developments will be made, both in relation to the technologies incorporated (such as codec inclusion and mobile-platform interfaces), and the stakeholders brought on board.
But MainStreaming is very proud to be integrated right from day one in such an ambitious project that presents innumerable potential benefits to audiences; especially in terms of the flexibility with which they can access linear terrestrial and on-demand broadband TV, in a way that will all but eliminate the distinction of either in their eyes.
And we believe the reason we’re able to be involved in a project with this level of technical complexity and ambition is because our technology is built on inherent principles of agility, flexibility and adaptability.
It was also built with the knowledge that video data carries specific – and often varied and complex – needs and requirements, and only by understanding these and using adaptable structures to accommodate them can you create a delivery network that is maximized in relation to its efficiency, quality and versatility.