Interactive TV for DVB Operators
DVB - a Short History
Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) standards were first developed in the 1990s as a replacement for analog TV broadcasting. DVB is a technology standard used for digital television broadcasting, it is primarily designed for traditional broadcasting methods, such as cable, digital terrestrial television (DTT), and direct-to-home (DTH) satellite services.
The standards were designed to enable the transmission of high-quality digital TV signals and a range of interactive services. DVB quickly gained popularity, and by the early 2000s, many DVB operators were providing digital TV services to viewers around the world.
High Cost of Infrastructure
One major challenge has been the high cost of infrastructure and equipment required to deliver DVB services, which can be a barrier to entry for new operators and limit the growth of existing operators. Additionally, traditional broadcasting methods are limited in their ability to provide on-demand content and interactive services like catch-up TV and multiscreen, which are increasingly in demand among viewers.
DVB Challenges With the Rise of OTT/IPTV Competition
Furthermore, as streaming services like IPTV and OTT gain popularity, DVB operators have faced challenges in keeping up with the changing market. These new services are often more affordable and offer greater flexibility than traditional broadcasting methods, making it harder for DVB operators to compete. They also require different skill sets and technologies, which may be unfamiliar to traditional DVB operators.
Another challenge facing DVB operators is the need to maintain high-quality services in the face of increasing competition. As viewers have more options for TV content and services, DVB operators must ensure that their services are reliable, accessible, and engaging in order to retain their audiences. They must also adapt to changing consumer preferences and expectations, such as the demand for personalized and interactive content.
Despite the challenges posed by IPTV and OTT, DVB operators continue to be a choice for viewers around the world. With the development of new technologies and standards, DVB operators can continue to provide innovative and engaging TV experiences to their viewers.
In this blog, we'll explore the latest trends and developments in interactive TV for DVB operators, including new technologies, services, and business models that can help them compete in an increasingly crowded and competitive market. We'll also discuss the challenges that DVB operators face and provide tips and strategies for overcoming them.
Who are DVB operators
DVB operators use the DVB standard to transmit digital video and audio content over a variety of platforms such as satellite, cable, and terrestrial television. These operators include traditional television broadcasters, cable and satellite providers, and new digital-only players. Examples of DVB operators include national public broadcasters, cable operators with legacy coaxial infrastructure, commercial television networks, and international satellite operators.
What is Interactive Television for DVB Operators?
Interactive television is a technology that allows users to interact with television content in real time. It has become increasingly popular among digital video broadcasting (DVB) operators, who are looking to enhance the viewing experience for their customers.
Interactive television allows viewers to access additional information about a program or advertisement, interact with the program via service like catch-up TV, and even make purchases directly from the television. It is based on the use of a set-top box (STB) and mobile devices that allow viewers to interact with the content.
Examples of Interactive TV for DVB
One example of an interactive TV solution is the use of a multiscreen service, which allows viewers to access the same content on multiple devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs. This allows providers to reach a wider audience and offer a more convenient viewing experience.
Viewers are able to access both linear TV over DVB and additional OTT content and services, such as catch-up TV, nPVR (network Personal Video Recorder), video on demand, using the same STB device. This also allows viewers to have a unified and seamless experience while giving providers the ability to deliver linear TV over existing infrastructure plus ability to deliver additional services and revenue streams.
Another example is using HbbTV (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV) technology which combines the traditional broadcast TV signal with interactivity over Internet-based connection. However, HbbTV never really gained popularity globally.
Challenges that DVB operators Face
We have already mentioned some of the challenges that DVB operators faced and still face that compelled them to add interactive TV to their offerings. Challenges like limited bandwidth capacity and the need for specialized equipment, keeping up with the IPTV and OTT’s growing popularity, and adapting to changing consumer preferences and expectations meant DVB operators had to figure out how to sustain their business ASAP.
No Interactivity Means Bigger Churn
DVB operators were facing significant challenges, particularly when compared to telecommunications and internet service providers. One of the biggest challenges they face is the lack of interactivity, which has resulted in their customers missing out on key features such as catch-up TV and multiscreen viewing, both of which are highly valued by consumers. As a result, DVB operators are experiencing increased customer churn as they struggle to keep up with the changing preferences and demands of their audience.
Challenges of Cable Operators in Europe
As an example, in Europe, there were many smaller cable operators that covered a limited area. They would set up some local infrastructure and many of them had only a few thousand subscribers. Usually, they did not have enough funding to invest in infrastructure upgrades and additional services to offer to subscribers so the churn started becoming a big problem.
FTTx Networks to Build Company Value and Decrease Churn
Very often smaller cable operators were basically trying to build their business enough to become more interesting to be bought by bigger operators which is why they were reluctant to invest in OTT platforms. Instead, they were investing in optical infrastructure to increase their selling value to potential buyers.
Cable operators have been investing in optical fiber networks for the past ten years as they started losing more and more customers because they could not provide quality, fast internet speeds. In an effort to address these challenges and remain competitive, DVB operators started upgrading their infrastructure by building fiber-to-the-x (FTTx) networks. This not only allows them to replace outdated legacy infrastructure but also provides customers with faster and more reliable internet services and now they have a prerequisite to upgrade their video service.
But, Interactive TV is equally important
However, they soon realized the necessity of delivering good TV service (with interactive TV) to keep and increase their subscriber base. Adding those services would additionally increase their ARPU.
Moreover, by leveraging this upgraded infrastructure, DVB operators can now also offer video streaming services to their customers. This not only helps to meet the growing demand for online video content but also provides DVB operators with an additional revenue stream. Overall, these investments in infrastructure upgrades and diversification of services can help DVB operators stay relevant in a rapidly evolving market and attract and retain customers.
STB Replacement - Yes or No? What are Your Options?
Besides investing in a network, DVB operators have been adding new set-top boxes, either OTT or hybrid ones to the mix. Using such STB enables them to add the needed interactive services. Even more, with those STBs, they get to use the best of both worlds, as they can still deliver live channels via DVB infrastructure and other (interactive) services via IP.
Best of Both Worlds for Savings
This combined approach creates savings on bandwidth, for example, for cable operators. Otherwise, if they played everything over the internet, live channels would, due to limitations of coaxial infrastructure, use up too much bandwidth. Also, it could lead to issues with streaming quality and reliability. By utilizing a hybrid approach, DVB operators can ensure that their customers have access to both live channels and interactive services while also maintaining a reliable and efficient delivery method preserving their investment in the existing infrastructure.
Even in situations where cable operators are not inclined to change the existing STBs they can still upgrade their service (like catch-up TV or multiscreen features) and cater to their subscribers. For instance, they have an option to still offer live channels via STB but also offer OTT service on mobile devices.
UniqCast has implemented many different solutions for clients worldwide where operators offered their subscribers live channels via STBs, and provided them with the option to use mobile devices for casting features to play on the big screens as well. They could also decide to offer a smart TV (and decrease necessary STB investment) and mobile devices solution.
However, usually the most common solution was for the cable operators to start offering their services via hybrid STB or as of lately via more and more popular AndroidTV boxes that enable them to offer other apps as well.
Security of Content When Adding New STBs
An important thing to consider is the technological challenge related to security concerns and STBs. Interactive TV solutions for DVB operators need to ensure the security and integrity of the video content to protect it from unauthorized access and distribution. Providers need to implement appropriate security measures, such as encryption and authentication, to protect the video content.
DVB operators use the CAS (Conditional Access System) method of encrypting television signals to prevent unauthorized access to the content which is then decrypted by the STB. The main challenge is that today’s Android STBs don’t widely support CAS which is why your interactive TV solution provider needs to provide a solution with STBs that are certified and integrated with CAS. UniqCast offers a solution that supports Android STB and several CAS vendors.
Another option, especially interesting, to smaller DVB operators is to optimize their investments by using multi-operator solution which supports multiple virtual operators from one platform. This approach enables a group of operators to combine their funds and purchase a single platform decreasing their initial investment considerably.
Use case is also a big operator who has OpCos internationally with different platforms and is looking to consolidate existing platforms for those OpCos in different countries. With multi-operator platform you are able to do a consolidation while optimizing the cost.
Cloud Solution for DVB Operators
Finally, when talking about different options for DVB operators to upgrade their service the latest option includes the operators getting on the Cloud platform and having their interactive TV offering for subscribers set up within days.
Using cloud solution also makes sense in a situation where the operator is looking to replace the existing platform and wants to test the new interactive service first. Operator can maybe start offering it on mobile phones initially without interruption to current service, and add additional devices and then seamlessly transfer from the legacy platform to the new one.
Benefits of Implementing Interactive TV technology for DVB operators
Increased reach and audience engagement
OTT/DVB solutions allow providers to reach a wider audience and engage viewers with a more comprehensive and convenient viewing experience. This can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Ability to offer additional services and revenue streams
OTT/DVB solutions can provide additional services and revenue streams, such as targeted advertising, VOD services, catch-up TV and other features. Research has shown that the global OTT video market is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of over 9% during the period 2019-2024 (source: Research and Markets).
Potential to personalize the viewing experience
OTT/DVB solutions can provide a more personalized viewing experience by offering interactive TV services and multiscreen services. Research has shown that personalization of the viewing experience can increase viewer engagement and satisfaction, leading to an increase in revenues.
Providing a multiscreen experience can reduce the churn rate by up to 30% (source: Accenture), and the global OTT video market is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 9% during the period 2019-2024 (source: Research and Markets)
In summary, OTT/DVB solutions for cable, DTT, and DTH providers offer several advantages such as reducing churn by engaging subscribers with multiscreen, increasing ARPU by extending existing DVB service with Catchup TV, Android apps and other up-sell options, and Lowering OPEX by optimizing bandwidth usage through hybrid service. However, providers need to be aware of the challenges such as the complexity of the technology, the need for a high-speed internet connection, compatibility issues between different devices and platforms, and security concerns.
Cable, DTT, and DTH providers can benefit from OTT/DVB solutions in several ways:
Go Multiscreen - By introducing video services on mobile devices, providers can engage subscribers and ensure revenues. This is because viewers are increasingly demanding the ability to watch their favorite content on any device and at any time. By providing mobile video services, providers can increase viewer engagement and satisfaction, which can lead to a reduction in subscriber churn. Research has shown that providing a multiscreen experience can reduce the churn rate by up to 30% (source: Accenture).
Interactive TV - By extending existing DVB services with Catchup TV, Android apps, and other up-sell options, providers can increase Average Revenue per User (ARPU). This is because interactive TV services can offer a more personalized and convenient viewing experience, which can lead to increased viewer engagement and satisfaction. Additionally, interactive TV services can also provide additional revenue streams, such as targeted advertising and video-on-demand (VOD) services.
Hybrid Service - By using a combination of DVB and OTT video delivery, providers can optimize bandwidth usage and lower operational expenses (OPEX). This is because a hybrid service can take advantage of the strengths of both technologies, such as the high quality and reliability of DVB and the flexibility and scalability of OTT. By using a hybrid service, providers can lower their costs by reducing the amount of bandwidth required for video delivery. Furthermore, by having the ability to use different delivery paths (DVB or OTT) depending on the network conditions, providers can ensure a better Quality of Service (QoS) for their viewers.
End-to-end responsibility in OTT/DVB Projects
End-to-end responsibility refers to the concept of a single entity taking full responsibility for all aspects of a project or service, from initial design and development to final delivery and maintenance. In the context of OTT/DVB solutions, it means that the provider is responsible for delivering a complete and fully functional OTT/DVB solution that includes all the necessary components and services, such as transcoding, CMS/MW (Content Management System/Middleware), streaming/CDN (Content Delivery Network), CAS/DRM (Conditional Access System/Digital Rights Management), client applications, and hybrid STB (Set-Top Box) devices.
The main advantage of delivering a turnkey OTT/DVB solution with end-to-end responsibility is that it enables operators to upgrade their DVB service with minimal risk and in a short amount of time. This is because the provider takes care of all the necessary components and services, and the client can be sure that everything will work seamlessly together. Additionally, it allows the operators to focus on their core competencies and not worry about managing different vendors, thus reducing the complexity and risk of the project.
However, operators need to be aware of the challenges and requirements of integrating different components and services, ensuring compatibility between different devices and platforms, and maintaining the security and integrity of the video content. By keeping up with the latest developments and trends in the OTT/DVB market, operators can ensure that they are able to deliver a high-quality and reliable Interactive TV service solution to their subscribers.
Additional advantages of upgrading your DVB service with an Interactive TV
Offer hybrid STB also to customers without the Internet, so they can have the same STB as others and you can easily up-sell them interactive TV services once they order the Internet. This allows providers to reach customers who do not have an internet connection and offer them the same services as other viewers. This can increase customer satisfaction and reduce customer churn.
Separate subscribers, content, packages, analytics, and billing between the virtual operators and allow the platform as a service model, where each DVB operator controls only his services. This allows providers to offer different services and packages to operators and easily manage and bill these services. This can increase revenue and reduce operational costs.
Use prepared reports for feature and content consumption, that will help you optimize your offering. In addition, it is possible to easily create new reports as per your needs. Analytics can provide valuable insights into viewer behavior and preferences, allowing providers to optimize their services and offerings. Research has shown that using analytics can increase viewer engagement and satisfaction, and lead to an increase in revenue (source: Deloitte).
EPG (Electronic Program Guide)
A digital TV guide that allows viewers to easily browse and search for content. This can increase viewer engagement and satisfaction.
nPVR (Personal Video Recorder)
Allows viewers to record and save their favorite programs and watch them later. This can increase viewer engagement and satisfaction.
VOD (Video on Demand)
Allows viewers to watch their favorite programs and movies on demand. This can increase revenue through additional services and advertising.
Allows operators to offer services in different languages, increasing the reach and accessibility of the services.
Adaptive bitrate streaming
Allows operators to deliver video content in the best possible quality, depending on the viewer's internet connection. This can increase viewer engagement and satisfaction.
Besides already mentioned advantages of AndroidTV STB, it additionally offers users other games and apps along with your existing app
Enables viewers to access already broadcasted content, usually for a limited amount of days.
Recipe for the Win - Continuous Development and Upgrade
It is important to note that these features are not mutually exclusive and can be combined to create a comprehensive and convenient viewing experience for viewers. Providers should also keep in mind that these features are continuously evolving, and new technologies and trends are emerging. Therefore, it is important for providers to keep up with the latest developments and trends in the OTT/DVB market to ensure that they are able to deliver a turnkey OTT/DVB solution that meets the requirements and expectations of their viewers.
In conclusion, OTT/DVB solutions for cable, DTT, and DTH providers offer several advantages such as Hybrid STB that can reuse existing DVB network, an offline mode that allows reaching customers without internet, Multioperator that allows the platform as a service model, and analytics that helps to optimize the offering. These features can increase viewer engagement, customer satisfaction, and revenue. However, providers need to be aware of the challenges and requirements of integrating different components and services, ensuring compatibility between different devices and platforms, and maintaining the security and integrity of the video content. By keeping up with the latest developments and trends in the OTT/DVB market, providers can ensure that they are able to deliver a high-quality and reliable OTT/DVB solution to their viewers.