Blog | Content & Streaming Providers
April 14, 2015

Simplifying your content management and distribution - the case for a single source file

Richard Buchanan

Since 2010, “TV Everywhere” has become a technology, a process, a goal and a destination. We are all trying to get “there,” to the ubiquitous place where one file can be viewed on any device, authenticated, without buffering and monetizable through advertising. Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, we all know this is not as simple as it sounds – for distributors, for content providers, for equipment vendors, or for service providers.

One significant pain point on the content development and distribution side has been how to create, manage, and send all of the source files required to enable playback on all operating systems and devices at different resolutions. Most content owners are used to providing a single title in formats such as HD, SD, MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 to be ingested on multiple platforms and distributed to multiple destinations via satellite and fiber. As you know, handling this number of files requires labor, storage and bandwidth which often involves coordination with several teams inside of your organization and can be costly, not to mention the challenges presented by transcoding and maintaining the quality of experience (QofE). Now, imagine a world where you, as a content owner, could submit a single file which could be used to derive all of your other versions and formats – and you don’t have to do a thing?

While it may seem like a dream, this type of single source content generation is already possible. IP encoding and delivery simplifies file transcoding, creation and distribution using a single contribution quality asset. Often, these contribution grade files, optimally 50 mbps for an MPEG-2 transport stream and 25 mbps for an AVC H.264 transport stream, come in the form of an on demand asset or a linear feed received via a direct fiber connection. The quality of these source titles allows them to be transcoded into a variety of files that can be used for linear, on demand and streaming applications.

This approach allows a content provider to deliver native video assets to one location that can ingest, prepare, store, transform, QC and deliver each file in the appropriate format and to the correct location. Possible outputs include Adaptive Bit Rate (ABR) MPEG-4 packages for delivery to TVE systems; C3 files for VOD; MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 to the set-top-box (STB); online streaming; and future technologies such as H.265 encoding for ultra-HD. In addition, the single asset solution facilitates the seamless transfer of metadata and ad tagging using one derivative file.

Another advantage of single asset solutions is the ability to control the QoE through a high-end transcoding and monitoring system. Single asset solutions offer an alternative to multiple ABR streams for TVE, which can be fraught with imperfections that affect quality and the viewer experience. As our world becomes more IP-based and dependent upon higher video resolution formats, QoE will become even more important to brand loyalty and revenue generation.