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Streaming Media West '15: Why Put All Your Bits into More Pixels When You Can Put Better Pixels Up?

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Tim Siglin: Welcome back to Almost Live here at Streaming Media West 2015. With me I've got Will Law from Akamai. Will, you were on a panel earlier today. What did you talk about?

Will Law: It was all a panel about new technologies that are affecting OTT and the streaming industry.

Tim Siglin: What are some of those new technologies?

Will Law: There is a bunch of them. We started off with the HEVC and VP9. There is a lot of fight in the market place right now but by HEVC, some it legitimate and some of it not.

Tim Siglin: The licensing issues.

Will Law: Primarily the licensing. HEVC advance was one of those topics of discussion. They've backed off their quite extravagant claims. The expectation, I've polled a bunch of people at IBC, is that it will settle down. Maybe settle down faster because of, that memory's relatively fresh in people's minds. They've learned the lesson, I think. Greed has no persistent place in the encoding market.

Tim Siglin: I wrote an article about a month ago talking about the sort of sacrificial lamb model that we went through back in the AVC time, where VP8 was looking to be transcended and all of a sudden sort of dropped away because AVC and MPEG-LA got their act together.

Will Law: VP9 is certainly out there. What's interesting is the aligns for open media.

Tim Siglin: Exactly.

Will Law: Getting together and saying we are going to release a royalty-free open coding that will compete.

Tim Siglin: Right.

Will Law: There's a large body of, community, that think that that will be a forcing function, very similar to VC1, to get the HEVC licensing.

Tim Siglin: Which is precisely the ... Yeah, that was the argument I made in the article as well. So besides VP9 and HEVC, what else did you talk about on new technologies?

Will Law: We spoke about MPEG DASH coming out, it's not exactly new.

Tim Siglin: Right.

Will Law: As we were discussing, it was ratified three and a half years ago.

Tim Siglin: And we're now seeing a significant amount of adoption, aren't we?

Will Law: Now we're seeing real companies using it. YouTube is obviously, last year I think, converted a majority of their delivery over to that. AT&T Uverse, are on the panel. They've switched over to DASH.

Tim Siglin: Netflix.

Will Law: Netflix's segments are formatted. Certainly within the Akamai site, we've seen a lot more interest now. DASH is a standard so it's being referenced by other standards bodies and the OTT industry is getting out of this webcasting model and getting into real IP delivery.

Tim Siglin: As we heard this morning from Corey from Microsoft, the XBOX 1, of course, has it and Windows 10 has it, so both on the PC, the set top box and the traditional market. Given the fact that you've been heavily involved with DASH advancement in the last three and a half years since ratification, is it fairly satisfying for you to start seeing this adoption?

Will Law: Yes it is. At IBC we had our first ever DASH talk at IBC three and a half years ago. I had the author of DASH and the chairman of the DASH promoters group at that time and four people came to the talk. It was sad. They said well that's a start. This year, we had the first technical session devoted to intake DASH and [inaudible 00:04:10] we had a business session with 10 speakers and we had 400 people come to the promotional party. It was a great event. There's a good energy about it and there's a consistency of purpose.

So DASH is not the be all and the end all, it has issues like any other format but the fact that it's a format we can just agree on ...

Tim Siglin: A common language that we can speak.

Will Law: Like English is now the de facto format at conferences, even in Europe. We agree to speak English. Not the best language in the world, not the easiest, but it just makes communication easier.

Tim Siglin: What other new technology did you talk about as we wrap up?

Will Law: We spoke about HDR and rise of that. That's going to impact people in the short term maybe more than 4K.

Tim Siglin: In fact, I've heard several people say 1080p60 and HDR versus 4K/UHD in terms of content availability and the number of players that are out there to play.

Will Law: Absolutely. You can take a 1080p stream at 5 or 6 Mbps, add in HDR, double the frame rate to 50 or 60, or provide a 50% bump in bit rate over 1080p and that is a compelling difference for any consumer, young, old, any distance back from the screen. So why put all the bits into more pixels when you can put better pixels up.

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