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NASA Channel Lands on Roku, Streaming Video From the ISS

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Harmonic and its flagship customer NASA claim to have launched the first UHD HDR linear streaming channel. It includes content culled from an 8K camera on board the International Space Station.

Available for users of Roku devices (principally in the U.S.) the channel is delivered over-the-top through an app using a cloud-based end-to-end video streaming solution from Harmonic, Accedo, and CenturyLink.

Since NASA first launched its channel over satellite in 2015 it has scanned archive film content into 4K and begun to capture more footage digitally in 4K and 6K. It even has an 8K camera orbiting the earth on the ISS, revealed Bryan Walls, deputy program manager of the NASA Imagery Experts Program at the Harmonic press conference at IBC. The channel includes a live stream and real-time views of Earth from the ISS.

“Some of this higher resolution content has not been easy to get out,” Walls said.

The new service should change that since it will use Harmonic EyeQ to compress the video to UHD HDR 60fps at a maximum 15 Mbps for Roku. It is ABR-based so will also deliver at around 8 Mbps where conditions necessitate preserving quality. By comparison, the UHD (not HDR) satellite-delivered NASA channel require 20 to 25 Mbps.

Accedo is providing the user experience layer for the app and CenturyLink the CDN. The HDR grading is HDR 10, chosen because Harmonic felt it was the most easily deployed format at scale. An SDR version in UHD is also being produced.

Tim Warren, SVP and CTO for the video business at Harmonic, said the NASA streaming channel helps showcase the expanded color space offered by the HDR format “from an intergalactic perspective, a feat that has never been achieved before."

Harmonic's work with NASA is a reference case for its software-as-a-service (SaaS), a focus of its IBC messaging this year.

“Cloud has emerged as the most efficient and agile medium for video playout and delivery for both linear and catch-up TV,” said Thierry Fautier, the firm’s VP of video strategy. “With our VOS360 Video SaaS we are at the forefront of this change.”

Harmonic shared a few stats about the adoption of its SaaS platform: 35,000 OTT channels are deployed worldwide using it, 3,000 of those are cloud native, and its software and appliances served over 1 million concurrent users with World Cup streams this year.

Riding on that success, the company is introducing new SaaS applications for operators including dynamic ad insertion and disaster recovery.

Of the latter, Fautier said, “We can use cloud to turn on a vast amount of channels within minutes. We can commit to start-up time in an hour for extensive channel line-ups.”

He added, “We all know that Harmonic has been recognised for its video processing solutions, but with streaming such a clearly growing part of video delivery we want to be an enabler for content monetization and personalization.”

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