NAB Reflections: Deluxe MediaCloud’s Tom Holmes on 4K Over Public Internet, the At-Home–Production Boom
NAB 2017 demo delivers playout from Sweden to show floor
Deluxe used the stage of NAB 2017 to highlight its MediaCloud IP distribution network. The software-based platform, which debuted at NAB 2015, allows content owners to cost-effectively distribute content globally to broadcast or OTT platforms over the open internet. MP & Silva currently deploys the platform to distribute the NFL to more than a dozen European broadcasters. At NAB 2017, Deluxe Media Services rolled out a 4K demo featuring delivery of 4K content from Sweden over the open internet to the show floor.
SVG sat down with Deluxe MediaCloud Sales and Marketing Director Tom Holmes to discuss the demo at the show, how the platform is evolving, the company’s growing client base, and how he sees the MediaCloud serving as a key tool for the exploding at-home–production market.
How is the Deluxe MediaCloud being demonstrated here?
We have a 4K demo with 4K playout, which is being delivered by the public internet all the way from Sweden onto the show floor right here. We also have an HD playout happening from London being delivered here. We’ve got 60 Mb worth of internet capacity roped off for these two demos: 45 Mb [for the 4K demo] and 15 Mb [for the HD demo]. We are doing that very simply, very small, and very lightweight. We have a software-based 4K decoder sitting on a super-micro server along with our IP encapsulation device and a new firewall, plus the set-top box itself. That’s it.
In previous years, we’ve needed lots of equipment. But, this year, we’re able to do more with less, which is great from a cost perspective because it drives down our hardware costs and, therefore, that can be driven into the pricing.
The other thing is one of the services that we provide for the NFL: we do a record, and then we do a native playback, should anybody miss anything. Because this is all datacenter-driven, we have storage that sits within the datacenter, so we’re able to record anything that traverses our datacenter and then play it back at a later date.
Now that Deluxe is a couple years into the deal with MP & Silva to deliver NFL games live to broadcasters throughout Europe, how has the workflow evolved?
We’ve just finished a second successful season at 100% availability, and it was very successful. We grew the number of broadcasters from seven for the first season up to 14 now sitting on the network covering more than 50 regions throughout Europe. One of the new broadcasters coming on the platform was a little bit wary about the platform, so, for the first month or so, they wanted to still have satellite [as a backup]. But, after getting used to it, they are extremely happy with using our network.
With proven MediaCloud deployments now in the field, are you seeing clients look to expand their use of the platform?
We’ve got a few broadcasts on the network, like ViaSat as an example, who have got four sites with us. They’ve waited until the end of their first year on the NFL just to be fully confident and now want to do more. They are now looking at contribution networks between their own sites and trying to acquire more sports through us.
We’ve also recently, with MP & Silva as well, completed a service in Singapore. For events like Serie A, La Liga, and Ligue 1, we are downlinking those in London and contributing those into Singapore. We can do up to 16 streams at any one time from London to Singapore. We’re excited to continue to grow those kinds of opportunities.
Recently, we were also involved in the latest ESL [esports network] event [Intel Extreme Masters] in Katowice, Poland, which was over two weekends. They gave us about 2½ weeks of lead-up time, and we were able to build essentially a flyaway unit similar to what we have here at NAB that went onsite as part of the production. We were taking feeds offsite, doing some standards conversion, and then delivering up to 13 broadcasts across Europe and the Middle East, including ViaSat, Telefonica, and BT Sport; [we also] transcoded it and delivered it to four OTT platforms. We also delivered an OTT format into a Nordic digital-cinema environment, [where] the final [was shown] live. It ended up being the most viewed esports event ever, reaching more than 55 million fans worldwide.
Have you been expanding the use of Deluxe MediaCloud for more at-home–production applications recently?
Absolutely. We recently did some work using this network for a Swedish hockey league in Sweden. We did some testing with a four-camera production with fully synced cameras back into a centralized MCR. It went very well, and we’re all happy with that, so we want to try to do more cameras and work more with [at-home production].
Do you see the demand for at-home–production workflows continuing to grow, and how can Deluxe MediaCloud enable them?
If you look at where the market is going, I think [at-home] production is becoming more of a possibility now that we have networked services and more bandwidth available in fixed fiber. Soon enough, costs are going to need to be reduced, and I think applications like ours, where you can actually do away with the transport layer and use public internet, become a much more viable solution. I think, through things like our NFL work and through other contribution applications, people get more used to using something like our [platform], and they will start to apply that to [at-home] production. I’m convinced it’s the future. If you look at the cost model around trucks onsite and all the travel expenses involved, that is a target for reducing costs. We can help with that, and I think that becomes a bit of a game-changer from a production perspective.
If it can help deliver more 4K content as well by pushing 4K content in an IP environment into a workflow that’s fully IP back at base, there are a lot of cost savings and efficiencies involved, and it increases the quality as well.