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IBC '19: Harmonic Aims to Reinvent Live Sports on Android TV

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Harmonic’s messaging at IBC 2019 is all about live video and, in particular, solutions that let pay TV providers better compete with their OTT rivals.

“We claim to reinvent live sport on Android TV,” said Harmonic’s vice president of video strategy, Thierry Fautier. “Personalized experiences are common in OTT sports environments. It’s time to bridge the gap between the OTT and broadcast worlds.”

In collaboration with Google and 3SS, Harmonic has created an integrated OTT and broadcast live sports workflow for Android TV.

The workflow sees Harmonic’s VOS software media processing platform (based on its Pure encoding engine), spanning content preparation through origin server, hosted on Google Cloud. 3SS provides the Android TV launcher which can be customized by the operator.

One example: A UHD screen's real estate could be split to offer the main game feed plus picture-in-picture views of other games with the viewer having ability to flick between them using a remote.

“This interactivity exits in the OTT domain but not as a tailored live sports OTT and linear experience on Android TV, until now,” Fautier said “This is a breakthrough in our industry.”

Harmonic said it sees the cloud becoming more important for live video. “The question is how to optimize the cloud for live,” he added.

One way is provide telco, cable, and mobile operators with a managed software-as-a-service offering based on VOS that takes a multi-CDN approach to live delivery.

“The biggest challenge with live video streaming is being able to handle the unexpected peaks in viewership, especially during premium events,” Fautier said. "This new access network capability for VOS essentially provides operators an insurance policy for live video delivery and an exclusive capability not achievable with other business-as-usual solutions."

He added, “It’s a 24/7 cloud-based service which offers performance guarantee optimized for live events. We will leverage established partnerships with CDNs. We know how much traffic we can support with our nodes so we know what QoS we can achieve and we know exactly what reliability we can have.”

This partner workflow has already been deployed by an unnamed operator “delivering live sport at scale.”

Harmonic has also teamed with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to help optimize deployments of VOS. This will initially roll out in Asia.

Shahar Bar, senior vice president of the video business at Harmonic said, “We collaborated with HPE to bring the best of both worlds for operators that prefer on-premises systems but also want the agility of the public cloud.”

Harmonic supports a wide range of applications, including linear channel origination, live, SVOD, time-shifted TV, live sports streaming, skinny bundles, and disaster recovery.

The company claims to have 40,000 live OTT deployments globally.

“We believe that makes us number one in live and linear video streaming,” Fautier declared.

He also pointed to the demo with France Televisions from Roland Garros this summer in which Harmonic helped deliver 8K video over 5G. “Two billion pixels per second were processed by our platform. One hundred hours of live and VOD content was produced over two weeks in the cloud. It was one of the most impressive demos I have seen in my career.”

Photo: Thierry Fautier at IBC 2019 (Adrian Pennington)

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