Monday, November 21, 2016

Value of Voice Control Coming Through Loud and Clear

Voice control has come of age, with greatly improved voice recognition, natural language and machine learning. The amazing ability to understand any voice with any accent is a huge achievement. Pairing that with the ability to respond in a conversational manner means voice control will become the de facto user control interface for many devices.

Millennials are probably the biggest users of voice control: more than 50% use Siri, Google and other systems to get answers for anything from restaurant recommendations to the distance to the moon. In the home there is increased reliance on “intelligent personal assistants” such as Alexa and Google Home.  Comcast is heavily promoting its Xfinity TV voice control system, and considering moving away from traditional remote controls altogether.

When machine learning is involved, the ease of voice control and the power of big data can transform lives.  Combining video or audio search data, all other searches on the Web and conversations with a personal assistant can inform the music you play or the content you watch, recommending a wider breadth of content choices that are tailored to consumers’ lifestyles.

But the real pleasure is the simplicity of acting hands-free. The ability to easily ask for something and quickly get the results may be ending the days of mind-numbing up-down flipping through a guide. You don’t even need to go to the Internet.

Here’s a scenario that might take place in the my house when the “Sports” command is given and a filtered list appears:  A more specific request – “Broncos” – might offer choices of multiple teams, but based on location and viewing history, we’d get information on the Denver Broncos and their upcoming games.

Pay-TV operators have had voice control on their lists for some time, but the technology has needed fine tuning to avoid adding to consumer frustration. The advancements in technology mean that now, for good reason, they are all clamoring to put voice control into their ecosystems, providing a much easier and much more intelligent user experience for their subscribers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

How Pay-TV Can Spur 4K UHD Growth

From industry chatter, sometimes it’s hard to tell if Ultra High Definition television is coming like an express train or a stop-and-go city bus, but one thing is universally acknowledged: pay-TV operators need a plan as 4K video, High Dynamic Range (HDR) and ultimately 8K transform the quality of video delivered to the home.

While IHS points out that the 4KTV market will total 55 million units and more than 100 million units by 2019, a panel at SCTE/ISBE Cable-Tec Expo last month pointed out that operators still are wrestling with how to support 4K with HDR on legacy systems, as well as competing formats such as HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

Here are some of the things that need to be on pay-TV’s front burner as the 4K/UHD transition moves forward:
·      Set-Top Box Capabilities – Operators need to aggressively follow the lead of innovation leaders such as Videotron, whose illico 4K Ultra HD PVR deployment has become a blueprint for market-wide 4K UHD STB penetration.
·      Content Security – Given the higher value placed on 4K UHD content, operators and their content partners need to step up their security games to include more specialized content protection techniques, including use of the Advanced Encryption Standard with 128 bit keys.
·      Content Availability – Operators such as Rogers and Comcast have shown the value of 4K UHD with HDR, but production and distribution need to be ramped up if pay-TV is going to help subscribers gain full value from their 4K UHD television investments.

It’s clear that manufacturers are moving quickly to integrate 4K compatibility and even 4K capability into displays coming to market.  No matter what obstacles there might be to the new technology, it’s clear that addressing the market quickly and comprehensively will spur market growth that will benefit consumers and the television industry.

Monday, October 3, 2016

“Big Data” Big Player in Pay-TV’s Future

One of the themes out of IBC and SCTE/ISBE Cable-Tec Expo last month was that the future of pay-TV relies not just on traditional broadband and video services but on how operators can harness “Big Data” to create new opportunities for services that are aligned with customer needs.

From improved search and discovery functionalities to IoT applications in healthcare and home automation, the ability of operators to gather, store, process and sometimes discard data is a key to making services more relevant to consumers, driving increases in usage and value propositions.

For pay-TV operators, creating a successful big data strategy requires overcoming a variety of challenges, including the need to:

·      Ensure security of data at all points, including servers, in the network and within the home;
·      Minimize the computational and network costs involved in collecting, transmitting and analyzing data in the cloud;
·      Prevent the explosion of data from congesting networks, especially as operators deliver more and more higher bandwidth 4K UHD content; and
·      Identify ways to keep storage requirements and costs – including power – from spiraling out of control.

In a new white paper entitled “Big Data: Expanding the Horizons of Pay-TV,” Alticast studies the opportunities operators have to capitalize on the potential of big data, and addresses steps the industry can take to unlock future services and revenue.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Alticast and ContentWise collaborate to expand Personalized TV market reach

ContentWise the personalization, discovery, analytics and metadata expert, and Alticast, today announced that they are integrating the ContentWise personalization system with the Alticast AltiPlex SDP (Service Delivery Platform) and AltiPlatform middleware to provide pay-TV and OTT operators with a powerful and flexible end-to-end software solution. 
Visitors to IBC will be able to see the platform demonstrated on the ContentWise stand (14.K05).
“More and more Alticast customers are looking to provide a highly personalized TV experience,” said Joon Hee Oh, Cloud Business Unit Leader at Alticast. “The integration with ContentWise expands our ability to provide operators with the tools to deliver state-of-the-art personalized TV experiences, allowing them to attract and retain customers and advance revenue opportunities.”

Alticast has developed an end-to-end architecture comprised of a cost-effective cloud server solution, portable STB middleware, proven content protection and a ground breaking UI/UX. The Alticast solution provides pay-TV and OTT operators with an advanced high-quality, cost-effective system delivered expeditiously.

ContentWise is the TV personalization software that provides broadcast, cable, satellite, IPTV, OTT and video streaming operators with total control over the curation and automation of the Personalized TV experience. ContentWise provides a data-driven UX engine that provides full control over each personalized user interface element across platforms through a set of visual layout tools.  The combination of algorithmic and social recommendations, predictive browsing and context awareness provides the most sophisticated content discovery solution on the market. The solution also enables content programmers to achieve unprecedented control thanks to predictive performance tools with support for curation, dynamic streams, business rules and A/B testing.

“Alticast and ContentWise share similar product philosophies: designing solutions that enable operators to provide consumers with the best possible TV experience,” said Pancrazio Auteri, CTO of ContentWise. “There is already a high-level of interest in our joint solution and we look forward to ensuring that a ContentWise TV experience powered by Alticast’s end-to-end solution will offer the advanced deep personalization that’s essential to maximizing consumer engagement and operator monetization.”