Harmonic today announced that its cloud-native media processing software and content-aware encoding (CAE) technology is powering Sky Italia’s OTT streaming services. The Harmonic solution is integrated into the Sky Italia hybrid cloud software-defined streaming platform. Leveraging the latest advancements in pure software architecture, the Harmonic solution provides Sky Italia with the agility, flexibility and scalability to speed up the launch of new premium services and enable delivery of superior video quality at low bitrates.
Sky Italia’s solution for its linear video streaming platform is based on Kubernetes and microservices to serve event-based and 24/7 channels on OTT platforms. Adhering to these requirements, Harmonic’s VOS® Cluster software dynamically controls and optimizes Sky Italia’s on-premises and cloud video-processing resources.
“To ensure the success of our next-generation streaming services, delivery of exceptional video quality and the ability to quickly adapt to changes are critical factors,” said Gabriele Ubertini, director of technology engineering and innovation at Sky Italia. “Harmonic’s cloud-native media processing software aligns with our choice of moving resources to Sky’s software-defined streaming infrastructure, while allowing us to be nimble. Using CAE, we can deliver stunning video to a larger group of subscribers, providing a better quality of experience to those in areas with challenging bandwidth availability.”
Sky Italia will use Harmonic’s VOS software for OTT media processing in on-premises datacenters integrated with the Sky Italia architecture, which leverages Kubernetes and a SMPTE 2022 uncompressed multicast video network. By enabling Sky Italia to dynamically control and optimize its video processing resources, together with their blueprint for an open-source ecosystem, the VOS solution will dramatically accelerate time to market for new channels. EyeQ™ CAE will be used to significantly reduce Sky’s bandwidth requirements, decrease CDN costs and improve QoE.
“Sky Italia asked for a highly available and scalable streaming solution for outstanding video quality and state-of-the art ABR packaging. We went above and beyond in meeting these requirements,” said Ian Graham, senior vice president of international sales and video services at Harmonic. “Having an elastic and always-up-to-date media workflow will give Sky Italia serious competitive advantages, enabling it to launch services faster and scale up seamlessly.”
Harmonic will showcase its latest video streaming innovations at IBC2019, Sept. 13-17 in Amsterdam at Stand 1.B20.
“As we approach the deployment stage for DVB-I, IBC is a great opportunity to showcase its readiness to enable the kind of reliable and user-friendly experience we associate with watching TV, but in situations where a broadcast connection may not be available,” said Peter MacAvock, chair of DVB. “Stop by DVB’s new location in Hall 1 at IBC2019, have a drink, talk with our experts, and learn where the future of digital media and broadcast delivery is headed thanks to DVB specifications.”
World-First DVB-I Demo
At IBC2019, several DVB members will collaborate to present the world’s first working demonstration of DVB-I, built from the related specifications. The demo will include broadband- and broadcast-delivered linear television services using HTTP-based access and streaming mechanisms. It showcases key elements such as a DVB-I Service List, DVB-DASH streaming with the recently released low-latency mode, and Multicast Adaptive Bit Rate support for network optimization.
DVB member demo partners will include: ATEME, Broadpeak, ENENSYS Technologies, Harmonic, ITV, Kineton, Newtec, RAI, Rohde & Schwarz, SES, TPV Technology, and Viaccess-Orca.
One-on-One DVB Expert Consultations
Additionally, DVB specialists will be on hand at the stand to meet one-on-one with visitors regarding a wide range of DVB-related topics. Potential topics include physical layer transmission technologies, DVB-I and streaming solutions, audio and video coding, interactive services, conditional access, and more. To schedule a consultation, visit https://dvb.as.me/.
Thought Leadership Sessions on DVB Specifications
DVB will extend its thought leadership to several IBC2019 conference sessions, providing expert opinions on all things related to DVB. Sessions will include:
Peter Siebert, Head of Technology at DVB, will take part in an IET session panel titled “Broadcast to IP Impacts” at the Future Zone Theatre, on Friday 13 Sept., 14:15-15:00.
Additionally, Siebert will give a presentation on the DVB specification for high dynamic range at the Ultra HD Forum IBC Masterclass, in the Emerald Room, Saturday 14 Sept., 10:35-10:55.
Peter MacAvock, Head of Delivery, Platforms and Services at the EBU Technology & Innovation Department and chair of DVB, will give a presentation titled “Broadcast in Light of 5G: What Will It Look Like?” as part of the Newtec Sessions, Room G106, Saturday 14 Sept., 12:30-13:30.
Cheers: Join DVB for a drink
A DVB drinks reception sponsored by Sisvel will take place at IBC2019 on Friday 13 Sept. from 17:00 to 19:00 on the DVB booth. IBC2019 attendees are encouraged to stop by, catch up with old friends, and make some valuable new connections within the wider DVB family.
At IBC2019, Harmonic will demonstrate real-world deployments of its unified OTT and broadcast delivery solutions. A variety of deployment strategies will be showcased, including cloud, on-premises and hybrid environments, to demonstrate how service providers, broadcasters and content owners originate and distribute video channels smarter, faster and simpler. Harmonic’s unique approach to video delivery includes cloud-based SaaS solutions that dramatically speed up the launch of new services, including live OTT channels, increase business agility and enhance video experiences.
“At IBC2019, we’re drawing from our extensive deployment experience and showcasing concrete solutions deployed in the field by leading service providers, broadcasters and content owners,” said Tim Warren, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Harmonic. “The video market is highly dynamic, and consumer demand for live OTT services is growing. Harmonic’s expansive solutions portfolio and enhancements in cloud, targeted advertisement and 8K technologies, with a SaaS business approach are designed with a sharp eye to help our customers stay one step ahead of the video evolution.”
Unified OTT and Broadcast Delivery
Unified delivery workflows running in the cloud and on premises will be demonstrated, which offer service providers a low-latency OTT solution for multiprotocol environments to provide the same delay between broadcast and OTT feeds — key for delivering live sports. In addition, Harmonic will showcase a range of unique workflows for VOS®360 SaaS to launch skinny bundles, create new pop-up channels, deploy disaster recovery and stream live sports in UHD.
Maximize Efficiency & Flexibility with Virtualized, Software and Cloud Playout Solutions
At IBC2019, Harmonic will demonstrate real-world deployments of hybrid SDI/IP, UHD and HDR playout and on-premises/cloud-based channel origination for OTT and broadcast workflows powered by its virtualized Spectrum™ X media servers and VOS360 SaaS. By supporting the SMPTE ST 2110 suite of standards and AMWA IS-04 and IS-05 specifications, Harmonic enables video content and service providers to make a smooth transition to all-IP workflows.
Simplify Live Content Distribution with CDN-Enabled Primary Distribution SaaS
Harmonic’s CDN-enabled Primary Distribution solution, a powerful workflow supported by the company’s VOS360 SaaS, will also be highlighted. With the Primary Distribution SaaS solution, programmers can deliver linear channels to distributors, whether they are traditional pay-TV operators, virtual MVPDs or local broadcasters, anywhere in the world via CDN.
Increase Monetization with Video SaaS for OTT and Broadcast Services
Harmonic will also showcase the powerful dynamic ad insertion (DAI) capabilities in Harmonic’s video SaaS solutions. With the company’s video SaaS solutions, operators can deliver advanced targeted advertisements and optimize ad campaigns to deliver personalized advertisements to viewers in real time. Harmonic’s solutions provide operators and advertisers a unified approach to reach audiences over hybrid broadcast and broadband delivery networks.
Future Zone Brings 8K, AI Technologies to the Forefront
The company will demonstrate high-quality 8K video delivery on 8K connected TVs and legacy mobile devices with EyeQ™ content-aware encoding (CAE), which reduces the required bandwidth by up to 50% while improving quality of experience. AI-based video compression will also be demonstrated, showing how it can reduce bit rates for broadcast and IPTV delivery, improve QoE for OTT and increase density for all applications.
Thought Leadership on AI Video Compression, 8K and 5G at the Future Zone Theatre
Thierry Fautier, vice president of video strategy at Harmonic, will outline the opportunities that 5G networks promise and the challenges ahead for 8K in his “Taking a Look at 8K and 5G Technologies” presentation on Sept.14 at 1:50 p.m. in the Future Zone Theatre (Hall 8, Stand F40).
Also in the Future Zone Theatre, Stephane Cloirec, senior director, video appliances at Harmonic, will speak on how “AI-Driven Video Compression Brings New Revenue Opportunities and Cost Savings for Service Providers” on Sept. 16 at 4:10 p.m.
Harmonic is showcasing its innovative solutions for OTT and next-gen TV delivery, along with real-world deployment examples, at IBC2019, Sept. 13-17, in Amsterdam at Stand 1.B20.
Flashback on the first IP-based broadcast centre with state-of-the-art platforms and numerous innovative production and distribution applications to answer the needs of today and tomorrow media players.
The 36,000 square meter IP-based facility supports 24/7 broadcasting of more than 35 channels, among those RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg, Chamber TV, Luxe.TV (Luxembourg), RTL TVI, Club RTL, Plug TV (Belgium), RTL4, RTL5, RTL7, RTL8, RTL Z, RTL Crime, RTL Telekids, RTL Lounge (Netherlands), RTL9 and AB Groupe movie channels and Altice Group channels (France), RTL Hungary (Hungary) and Love Nature, Love Nature 4K, Blue Ant Extreme, Blue Ant Entertainment (Singapore).
The broadcast centre was three years in the making and features an end-to-end IP infrastructure and well-conceived data IT network that manage mostly HD (and some 4K) content and channels.
“IP-based platforms allow us to rapidly setup new channels,” comments Costas Colombus, Technology Projects & Support Director at BCE. “Whereas it is for continuous or ephemeral channels, we are able to give a fast answer and start broadcasting the content worldwide.”
The new broadcast centre is located in in the centre of Europe. All the radio and television production facilities and playout centre operations employ the latest IP-enabled equipment from technology suppliers like Arista, Grass Valley (GV), Isilon, Juniper, Lawo, Harmonic.
Advanced research and systems integration
All of the equipment and systems were installed and tested by BCE. When plotting out goals for the new building, BCE engineers wanted the new infrastructure to be both future-proof and able to adapt to new workflow challenges as needed.
When it first began to consider replacing its traditional SDI systems in 2014, the available IP technology wasn’t suitable for real-world deployments or mission-critical broadcast use, and most solutions were proprietary. The process resumed in 2015 with six months of intensive interoperable testing. For BCE it was critical that the IP solution had the same quality of service and reliability achieved in the SDI world, but with an increased level of scalability, stability, propagation delays and synchronization.
Working with engineers at The Institut für Rundfunktechnik GmbH (IRT) research centre, BCE began looking at the SMPTE 2022-6 IP spec as a way to connect all of the disparate systems and have them communicate as a fully networked system. This would streamline the production of content and get it to the right TV, radio, and web platform for its own purposes, as well as support the numerous playout and other services it provides for major U.S. content distributors like CBS, NBC Universal, Warner Brothers Television and others.
Laurent Seve, Marketing Manager at BCE, said that when their team began researching different ways of implementing IP technology, they recognized that what was needed was a facility that was significantly different to what had been done in the past.
“The new facility is flexible enough to handle all types of content creation and distribution projects,” Laurent Seve said. “The collaboration between the IT and broadcast teams led to new types of workflow methods and allowed to get the most out of the systems.”
Technology provider Grass Valley was brought in to help test a series of IP workflows. Fiber-optic cabling, which is bandwidth-friendly, supports the various systems and connects all floors of BCE. There’s also lot of Cat6 cable installed throughout the building for things like data networks, online access and a variety of control (KVM) functions.
“The IP-technology allowed the move to a fiber-based cabling infrastructure,” said Alain Prim, Technology Projects Manager at BCE. “All the areas of the building are connected through a reduced amount of cables which are able to transport a far higher number of services. The multiple changes in media services are now easier to manage without the need of modifications in the basic cable or hardware structure.”
Indeed, BCE is now responsible for the playout of over 35 regional and international channels, from its Luxembourg Network Operations Centre (NOC). This NOC also manages transmission sites, located on remote sites in Luxembourg and Germany. Online and available 24/7, the NOC team ensures the continuity of BCE’s and its customers activities by answering all queries and taking targeted actions.
Thanks to the IP solution implemented, the NOC can fully operate, and control BCE’s Teleport located miles away. All the antennas, uplinks and downlinks, receivers, etc. are remote controlled over IP by the NOC.
The core of the production activities features a 1,000 sqm datacentre with one-megawatt capacity and 366 floor-to-ceiling equipment racks that store and distribute the content (and metadata) internally and outside the building. In-row water-cooled airflows keep the systems at optimal temperatures.
“Numerous customers selected our datacentre for its flexibility, its advanced infrastructure and the access to numerous services,” comments Xavier Boschian IS&T Director at BCE. “As a result, we have already built a second datacentre and are looking to extend the platform to welcome more customers.”
System and content security
Securing the operations of its customers is BCE’s priority, the new IP workflow of RTL City facilitates connections setup to remote sites for disaster recovery (DR) platforms.
Data is handled with the utmost care and stored in BCE’s storage facility. Whereas it is administrative, financial or media content such as videos and audio, BCE holds several solutions including a 20 Petabytes nearline Digital Library, online and offline solutions as well as S3 cloud backup and storage (through its flagship solution: itstored).
There are also three diesel generators for backup power, with UPS technology everywhere for system resilience. In fact, every piece of equipment is connected to two independent electrical power supply paths—with intelligent sensing and monitoring that will automatically connect the device to a third backup supply if two live and active electrical supplies are not detected.
Linked via dark fibre to BCE’s headquarters, the DR site features emergency workstations, playout platforms for the premium channels, a digital library with several Petabytes and a datacentre.
Flexible production and remote control
Due to its IP backbone, several production studios can share control rooms if necessary, with one control room controlling various productions at once. There are also several audio mixing rooms, and advanced lighting grids in the production stages.
About 30 post-production suites support a number of radio and TV channels as well as other outside client needs. These are based around GV edit stations with networked Isilon storage.
All the radio studios have voice-activated broadcast cameras in them so that when a particular on-air talent is talking, the appropriate camera goes live. The system has proved to be very flexible for full spec broadcasting on a main channel as well as generating a web stream.
“We have always anticipated the merge between IT and Broadcast technologies and decided to stop talking about new solutions and change the complete workflow of our activities to IP,” said Andreas Fleuter, Technical Infrastructure & SLA Director at BCE.
IP backbone makes the difference
While the internal network can be expanded as needed, the initial deployment is based around the VSF TR-03 protocol for distributing video over IP, using SMPTE ST 2022-6/7 and AES67 redundant IP streams. This includes multi-level routing support of the VSF TR-03 protocol for audio breakaways.
The building’s architecture supports 10Gbe, 25Gbe and 40GbE connectivity. GV provided an end-to-end IP routing system to meet this, complete with full SMPTE ST 2022-7 redundant hitless operation and seamless recovery from interruption to one IP link. GV also supplied a massive routing matrix that can handle 1036×1584 2022-6 video flows and 1180×1728 AES67 (each x8 AES3) audio flows.
Other GV IP technology in use includes its Kahuna IP production switchers, IQ-Edge IP processing systems, IP routing control systems and multiviewers. These are fully networked to a Lawo Virtual Studio Manager (VSM) control layer that manages all of the IP signals and tells the routers where (and when) to send them. There’s also a GV monitoring system that collects data from the IP sub-system, along with a direct interface to a Skyline Communications DataMiner network management and monitoring layer.
Evolution and Revolution
With the new IP infrastructure in place, any room or machine in the building can be accessed and used by any other with just a few router settings. In addition, operators at RTL City can now launch a new channel in a few days, as opposed to the 4-5 months it took previously.
“Technology and innovation are in BCE’s roots,” comments Tun Van Rijswijck, COO at BCE. “This all-IP infrastructure was meant to break the barriers and open to new linear and non-linear developments. Our recent acquisitions and innovations strengthen our conviction that we are on the right track.”
As a matter of fact, since the opening of RTL City, several channels selected BCE as their technological partner: Altice launched a multiplayout control room broadcasting numerous channels over Europe including a Live sport channel in 4K over IP and Blue Ant Media (BAM) launched Love Nature in HD and 4K in multiple languages.
With the acquisition of Freecaster, BCE enriched its portfolio with new hybrid solutions directly connected to the Cloud. Freecaster’s platform was perfectly integrated in BCE’s IP workflow, granting access to live streaming solutions, reaching new horizons with social network but also delivering OTT solutions, VoD portals, replay platforms and more.
“Freecaster is a strong asset for BCE, on one hand it answers our customers’ expectations for new OTT solutions and extension of our content delivery network and on the other hand it opens new markets like sports, institutional, music and fashion related customers.” Adds Tun Van Rijswijck.
On the production side, BCE created a new solution (StudioTalk) facilitating the launch of new programs. StudioTalk is geared up with PTZ cameras, microphones, digital branding and a touchscreen interface to manage the content, the production and the delivery. The solution gives an affordable alternative to cover events that were not financially viable before.
The results are clear, radio goes visual, television shows production is easier, events are covered anywhere, ephemeral studios are installed everywhere… BCE is steering the market to video and screen multiplication.
“Innovation has always paved the way of BCE activities. The all-IP infrastructure leaded our company to hybrid and cloud while increasing the distribution of media content on a global scale. The acquisition of Freecaster and its integration in our workflow was a significant move to the non-linear market. Tomorrow, the engineering of new solutions will enhance the development of BCE in the digital media world.” Concludes Frederic Lemaire, CEO at BCE.
Harmonic announced that Guangdong Radio and Television (GRT) is the first province-level broadcaster in China to deploy UHD channels, thanks to a playout solution from Harmonic. Supporting a range of formats, including SD, HD and UHD, Harmonic’s playout solution enables GRT to create pristine UHD broadcasts.
“UHD is still fairly new to the Chinese market, and we wanted to be at the forefront of this exciting movement,” said Huang Yonghong, associate director at GRT. “Harmonic’s playout solution provides rock-solid reliability and a rich feature set, increasing our workflow efficiency and allowing UHD channels to be launched very quickly.”
GRT has deployed Harmonic’s market-leading Spectrum™ X media server to deliver provincial UHD broadcasts and expand its HD channel offering. Harmonic’s Spectrum X solution reduces the complexity of broadcast workflows by merging multiple capabilities onto a single appliance. Native SDI and IP I/O on the same chassis will also enable GRT’s future transition to all-IP workflows and accelerate the launch of new revenue-generating channels.
Spectrum X media server also features innovative HDR and SDR with tone mapping and tone expansion, with support for sustained SDR or HDR outputs and mixed SDR and HDR clips. Additionally, the server provides simulcast channel capabilities with support for two different output resolutions, including SDR and HDR, from one playlist. These advanced features can easily be adopted by GRT in the future as it continues to improve upon video quality.
“Being among the first to launch UHD channels in China gives GRT a reputation for quickly responding to technology innovation and addressing consumer demand for an elevated entertainment experience,” said Tony Berthaud, vice president of sales and video services, APAC, at Harmonic. “Since Spectrum X is a highly versatile and flexible video server, we are able to expand features and functionality over time, enabling GRT to protect its investment.”
Harmonic announced that Television Broadcast Limited (TVB) has deployed Harmonic’s EyeQ™ content-aware encoding for its myTV SUPER OTT platform. EyeQ encoding optimizes bandwidth for OTT services, reducing TVB’s CDN costs and improving viewers’ quality of experience (QoE) on every screen by significantly decreasing the amount of stream buffering and startup delays.
“Today’s television viewers expect the same flawless, uninterrupted quality of experience for OTT as broadcast,” said Tony Berthaud, vice president of sales and services, APAC, at Harmonic. “Our EyeQ content-aware encoding enables TVB to achieve constant video quality for OTT and improved speeds for video delivery. With the bandwidth savings that EyeQ encoding provides, TVB can enhance its offering and deliver valued-added services like UHD and new sport channels in the future, keeping viewers engaged and watching longer.”
TVB is leveraging EyeQ technology to deliver live HD OTT channels on set-top boxes using the HEVC codec. At the heart of the company’s acclaimed, software-based Electra® media processing platform, EyeQ content-aware encoding offers TVB a fresh approach to delivering consistent, superior video quality for its OTT service, with a significant reduction in bandwidth. The EyeQ technology is unique in its ability to leverage the mechanics of the human eye to assess video quality and optimize encoding parameters in real time.
Harmonic announced that Shenzhen Topway Video Communication, one of China’s leading cable operators, has deployed a Harmonic live Ultra HD (UHD) video processing solution to power its new UHD broadcast and OTT services. Featuring a software-based, cloud-deployable application supporting advanced features such as HDR, Harmonic’s UHD solution enables the operator to deliver exceptional video quality while maximizing bandwidth efficiency.
“Our goal was to be one of the first service providers in China to deliver UHD public broadcasts and bring an enhanced, higher-resolution entertainment experience to viewers,” said Wen Zhiqiang, assistant manager at Shenzhen Topway Video Communication. “Harmonic has a solid reputation for reliability and offers a UHD solution that delivers pristine video quality, advanced HDR processing capabilities and flexible deployment options, which made this deployment a breeze.”
At the heart of the UHD solution deployed by Shenzhen Topway Video Communication is Harmonic’s Electra® XOS live video processor, which brings together artificial intelligence-based innovations, deep tuning for Intel processors and a strong expertise in video algorithms to allow delivery of exceptional video quality in applications where bandwidth is limited. The solution supports UHD statistical multiplexing, HDR processing, uncompressed and compressed IP inputs, and integrated packaging to simplify live video workflows for service providers.
“Our solution for live UHD video processing is one of the first in the industry to support AVS2 — the new UHD Chinese standard — ingest, as well as HDR tone expansion, enabling cable operators like Shenzhen Topway Video Communication to deliver outstanding quality of experience,” said Tony Berthaud, vice president of sales and video services, APAC, at Harmonic. “As cable operators look to address the demand for UHD video, Harmonic’s software-centric, cloud-deployable video processing solutions set the benchmark for flexibility and innovation.”
Harmonic will demonstrate its UHD solutions at BroadcastAsia2019, June 18-20, in Singapore at Level 4, Stand 4S2-01 and at Cable Tech Show 2019, June 19-20, in Tokyo at Booth C-07.