CES '16: Cisco Delivers For Shaw's New FreeRange App
In the past ten years, Cisco has grown into a major player in video distribution, and a slew of announcements at CES highlight the company's advances. Foremost among them is the announcement that Shaw Communications is using Cisco's Open Media Distribution CDN platform in its new FreeRange TV service.
FreeRange uses Comcast's X1 platform to combine live and on-demand offerings in a single app that's free to Shaw's 2.6 million customers in Canada. Shomi, Shaw's partnership with Rogers, does not include live linear channels; FreeRange offers 80.
With the announcement of Shaw as a customer, Cisco is officially launching the Open Media Distribution, which facilitiates delivery to both managed devices like set-top boxes and unmanaged ones like mobile phones and tablets. It's part of Cisco's Virtualized Video Processing (V2P) platform, which also includes Cloud Object Storage, which provides software-based storage for video services like cloud DVR and catchup. Cisco says that both Open Media Distribution and Cloud Object Storage are currently deployed by U.S. and European customers, but did not disclose customer names.
V2P can be used with Cisco hardware, but can also be used with other manufacturers' hardware. "Say you don't like our encoders? That's no problem," said Conrad Clemson, senior vice president and general manager for Cisco Service Provider Video Software and Solutions. at a press event at CES. The software-based nature of the V2P platform means it's easy to update as well, Clemson said. "Delivering an update used to be like backing the starship out of the space dock," he said. "Now, it's no big deal."
Cisco also introduced Infinite Broadcast, the third in a suite of cloud software video solutions that also include Infinite Home and Infinite Video, both announced in September at IBC. Infinite Home is a multiscreen solution for two-way telcos and cable providers, Infine Video is an OTT solution for content and service providers, and Infinite Broadcast is a multiscreen solution for one-way and hybrid cable and satellite service providers.
"We currently have 70+ customers, and are adding a new one each week," said Clemson. Current customers include D-Smart, a Turkish satellite provider and ISP. D-Smart CTO Erdogan Simsek said the provider "wanted to unify the experience across devices" so that viewers would see the same interface on mobiles as on TV.
Clemson said that its most-demanded service is content security, and announced that Sky is using Cisco's VideoGuard Everywhere for its new Sky Q service, which brings together broadcast, streaming, and download and will be available later this year. Sky is also using Cisco's headend platform and dedicated middleware for its set-top boxes.
The future of living room video includes conversational interfaces and TV sets that know who's in the room and what they want to watch. But will viewers feel comfortable with that level of intelligence?