TV consumer demands have evolved significantly throughout the last decade. The days where the entire family gathers around the living room TV to watch the weekend feature movie are numbered. Modern viewing habits require operators to deliver on-demand content, across several different devices, and in high quality. But delivering such advanced, multi-screen experiences can be difficult to achieve for a few reasons. To meet these modern viewing habits, the satellite industry has embraced the new requirements of internet connectivity and flexible access by delivering satellite over IP.
The accelerating evolution of consumer viewing habits
There are a number of factors that are shifting consumer viewing habits. A continued decrease in the prices of 4K TV sets has led to an adoption growth, which additionally has driven the demand for high-quality content.
With the rise of over-the-top (OTT) and subscription video on demand (SVoD) video services consumers also expect to get access to their favorite shows. The latest research by Parks Associates found that 76% of US broadband households subscribed to an OTT video service in Q1 2020.
Furthermore, consumers are expecting to connect with content across multiple devices around the house. Leichtman Research Group recently reported that 80% of U.S. TV households have at least one connected TV device – meanwhile, Fortune Business Insights noted that future OTT market growth will be largely driven by smartphone usage.
Modern viewing systems are bandwidth heavy
Despite the exceptional quality that 4K TVs can bring, a recent report from Hub, “Entertainment in the Connected Home,” found that out of the 47% of people in the U.S. who own a 4K-capable TV, just over half (55%) are actually using it to watch 4K content. They are in effect, using it as a non-4K TV.
Meeting modern content consumption expectations can put major pressure on a household broadband bandwidth. The ability of OTT services to deliver premium 4K content is still limited by the lack of fiber infrastructure and other high-speed broadband technologies in remote locations.
To stream 4K content reliably, Cable recommends a connection speed of 50Mbps. However, it found that 4K streaming will be difficult to achieve even in the most developed countries like the United States where the average broadband speed of 32.89Mbps. Globally, the broadband speed is 11.03Mbps, which means that TV providers need to find reliable methods of delivering content at the quality their audiences are expecting to see.
Combining satellite delivery over IP
With a reliable downstream bandwidth of up to 500Mbps, satellite is an attractive option for the delivery of 4K premium content to every subscriber – irrespective of a high-speed internet connection. Access to high-quality premium content has been a major benefit of subscribing to a satellite TV service, and with SAT>IP, it becomes possible to deliver 4K on any TV screen, smartphone, games console or tablet in the home.
SAT>IP technology works by taking a conventional satellite TV signal and converting it to an IP based data stream. This can then be transmitted across a standard wired or wireless IP network and viewed on multimedia and IP compatible devices. Simply put, SAT>IP allows for high-quality content to be consumed on a range of multi-media devices – even in locations without high-speed broadband infrastructures.
Meeting modern viewing habits through SAT>IP
Consumers also crave services that allow flexible viewing options across a range of devices – often at the same time. SAT>IP can help service providers deliver a modern TV experience by integrating satellite with OTT to create an innovative hybrid service. This approach combines the best parts of satellite delivery (high quality, guaranteed delivery), with the flexibility and personalization of IP experiences.
Satellite TV services are commonly based on a per-household model for a bundled service delivery, and require a set-top box, cabling and HDMI enabled screens in each viewing location. Using SAT>IP will enable operators to move subscriber authentication into the device so they can offer flexible, personalized subscriptions.
Such subscriptions could include offering personalized access to content for different family members, such as a kid’s TV bundle on a tablet, premium sports, and movies for the big TV in the living room and a TV show bundle on laptops. By moving to an IP/DRM based approach satellite providers can unlock this potential for second screen-based subscriber options.
Future-proofing 4K deployments
Service providers can also leverage SAT>IP to deploy multi-screen, multi-device 4K services within the home with relative ease, avoiding the need for customer visits to install more cabling and STBs. Once initial boxes that support SAT>IP are rolled out, there are minimal upgrade costs to unlock additional revenues.
If a subscriber wants to watch TV in another room a satellite provider would, previously, need to organize engineer visits and supply additional boxes. SAT>IP future-proofs 4K deployments for the roll-out of multi-screen, with minimal service costs needed. The combination of satellite and IP can be the ideal route to showing what a premium 4K experience can be, regardless of broadband network capabilities.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Martin Faehnrich, Secretary of the SAT>IP Alliance and standardization manager at Panasonic Europe