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Streaming Media West '15: Talking Xbox Live with Microsoft's Corey Smith

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Tim Siglin: Hi, I'm Tim Siglin, a contributing editor with Streaming Media Magazine and I have today with me Corey Smith from the Xbox team. Corey, tell us a little bit about what you talked about in your keynote this morning.

Corey Smith: Sure. The main focus of what we were presenting today was our ability to interact with our customers by bringing two-way TV into the focus of live events and even linear television.

Tim: One of the things you mentioned is that while TV itself, traditional linear TV is dying, interactive TV is taking its place; but the broadcast ideas or the broadcast techniques aren't dying. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Corey: Sure. Everybody wants to have a cloud message. Totally understandable, we have a cloud message as well, but we can't forget the ideals of what is the foundation of broadcast today. There's still quite a need for baseband video fiber, there's still a need for satellite. There's still even a place for microwave trucks. From a traditional broadcasting perspective, single acquisition standpoint, you still need a physical [on-perimeter presence somewhere to be able to convert that IP to get it to the cloud for distribution. We mixed the two worlds together, both the high-tech and the new cloud world, and the traditional broadcast methods that we all enjoy and love today.

Tim: You had an interesting theory at one point. You were talking about next-gen, where you're going, you mentioned 4K and UHD, and you said it may be a couple years to see adoption on that because there's not as much content that's being produced, but you said you thought there's something that would get a faster uptake than that. You want to talk about that briefly?

Corey: Sure, but as the standards of HDR being ratified and put forth in motion, I believe that 1080p60 with HDR will actually have a better customer adoption than traditional 4K just because of the lack of content on the market. There's quite a bit of remastered content hitting the market right now, and I think what you're going to find is once HDR is actually true and it's actually available on your play set, that a lot of the studios are going to start remastering in HDR to get that deeper rich color.

Tim: I think in that high dynamic range I completely agree, and I completely agree for 1080p60 for sports. Do you think though that the remasterings will stay at 24, 30 frames per second or will they remaster them up to the 60 just to have a slightly smoother experience?

Corey: Yeah, I think stuff that was originally shot on 24 will remain at 24, and I think stuff that's been built in the standard 59 frame per second format will be at 60.

Tim: You showed a live demo, can you talk a little bit about how that live demo was done, because you didn't do it locally you actually pushed content up to Redmond.

Corey: Yes. Part of the thing we wanted to do for the live demo was actually take a feed from the actual keynote itself through a redirect in 60 service that we had in the back. All the way up to our plant in Redmond. We essentially loaded that video stream through our play out system. So the live linear platform that we discussed in the presentation was actually in play and use in production at the actual keynote. When we opened up we see ourselves at the conference, and then we slowly transitioned that video VR master control services into the Windows 10 device data to continue the tech demo. It was really to show that we could actually acquire signal on site and push it back through the Xbox as part of our linear platform device.

Tim: In fact you mentioned Windows 10, so talk a little bit about the Xbox console experience versus the web experience, versus the windows 10 experience.

Corey: Sure. The web experience right now depending on the device is a traditional web-media client. What we're trying to do is actually build the same features we have from interactive standpoint from Xbox ONE, build that into our web client as well so we continue the rich experience on the web. Not losing track of our iOS and Android device ecosystem looks like, in joining a live event, but also accelerate what people can do on the web from a broadcast standpoint. We don't want to be in a position where we're limiting folks just to watch it on Xbox if they want the premium interactive experience. We want to be able to provide that same experience across all tubes.

Tim: Very good, all right anything else you'd like to add to the Streaming Media audience?
Corey: Right now no, it's been a fantastic event so far, I've really enjoyed the keynote.

Tim: We really appreciate you coming and doing the key note especially doing the live demo because that just drives home for people what can be done with the power of a platform that has some portion of it that's cloud as well.

Corey: Absolutely. Anything's possible; it just takes the right amount of technical know-how to pull it off.

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