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Why DVB has an important role to play in unifying the TV industry

Emily Dubs, head of technology, DVB Project Office explains why unification is the next Holy Grail

DVB has been around for more than 25 years, and during that time we’ve accomplished a lot. DVB enabled the move from analogue to digital 20 years ago and a decade later the transition from SD to HD. At first sight, one may think there is nothing left for DVB to do. But we’re not finished!

Let’s imagine, for a moment, how media delivery might evolve in the future if DVB ceased to exist: without an industry-led consortium focused on unifying and bridging technologies, there would be no prospect for harmonising broadcast and broadband media delivery. Fragmentation and proprietary solutions would be the norm. Broadcast would remain on its own silo and would die a slow death. Thankfully this won’t happen because DVB has a mandate to build on its success and guide the industry through the next big move.

Unification is the Next Holy Grail

Today, media consumers are getting increasingly frustrated, as they have to access many different apps from many different streaming services. This hurdle is now a key battleground for the industry, and the need for aggregation on the end-user side is being addressed by a handful of big players. However, even if their efforts succeed, the problems go beyond the end-user interface: fragmentation needs to be addressed throughout the entire value chain. No single entity is big enough to do it alone, just as earlier transformations would not have been possible without the industry joining forces and agreeing on standards.

Envisioning the Next Phase of Transformation for the Media Delivery Landscape

What would an ideal media delivery landscape look like in 10 years? Intelligent use of the unique characteristics of both broadcast and broadband networks would enable a new wave of innovation and growth. Seamless switching of the means of delivery would enable optimisation of distribution costs and open up new opportunities. Just imagine, for example, the many possibilities offered by the ability to provide OTT services over satellite. In this ideal world, broadcasters could counter revenue losses with targeted advertising and personalised content. They’d be able to play their part in the 5G ecosystem, and the prominence of broadcast services would be ensured, including on connected devices.

DVB is Uniquely Positioned to Tackle the Move from Fragmentation to Unification

To build this ideal world, DVB members are focusing on defining the necessary interfaces and other underlying requirements. 

One important requirement is to ensure commonalities on the service layer, regardless of how content gets to viewers. It’s also critical to enable unified user interfaces that offer the simplicity of a broadcast-like experience, aggregating all content in a way that the means of delivery are invisible to consumers. This is key because it gives operators the possibility to switch and thus optimise the distribution bearers.

In addition, there must be an agreement on using the right codec to do the right job, clear licensing of the technology being used, and consensus around optimised streaming formats.

DVB is already working on the aforementioned requirements. At the centre of our efforts is DVB-I, which is breaking down the barriers between the broadcast and broadband worlds from an end-user point of view. It offers a means to integrate all television services — linear broadcast, linear and on-demand broadband services, OTT services over satellite — into one service layer that will also enable the discovery of DVB services over 5G.

DVB-DASH is an optimised streaming format that also enables low latency for OTT services, reducing the discrepancies between broadcast and broadband zapping times. DVB-MABR is a way to enrich unmanaged networks with the scalability and thus the reliability of broadcast, leveraging adaptive media streaming over IP multicast technology. Our new native IP work focuses on a solution to deliver OTT streams through broadcast means, and our new DVB-TA specification enables broadcasters to dynamically substitute advertising in a linear broadcast. 

All of these hot topics have our members rallying around a common cause. We trust our consortium will once again bring the industry to consensus and successfully deliver the tools that will make a real difference and enable the next big move, from fragmentation to unification.