With a fast-growing number of disparate image sources, huge pressure is being placed on all points of the value chain… but how can one truly assure quality for the end user? 

While broadcasting is resilient and continues to disprove predictions of its demise, it is also clear that the pace of its evolution is quickening. Consumers are personalising their viewing experience by subscribing to apps and ushering in a new era of multiscreen TV where unicast video dominates traditional broadcast video.

Devices are connected and media capable. There are now more smartphones and consoles in China than there are TVs in the world. The Internet of Things will connect an unprecedented number of things to things and things to people forging applications and services we haven’t even dreamed of.

Along the way, self-driving vehicles will become entertainment hubs with multiple screens – including perhaps the windscreen – devoted to streaming media.

The landscape may be shifting but old patterns remain. The TV set is becoming the main screen for streaming as opposed to the computer. Yes, traditional broadcasters will have to adapt, but OTT providers face challenges too in terms of providing a broadcast quality of experience.

Content anywhere – anytime – so what are the stakes? 

The technical ramifications of needing to deliver any content anywhere and anytime are significant and will impact across the value chain from app providers to device manufacturers, pay and free to air broadcasters.

Initiatives such as the DVB Project’s DVB-I and TVOS in China are intended to advance the harmonisation of OTT and TV delivery and presentation. 

The three technical keys

DTG Testing supports these developments and argues that as the media system multiplies in complexity the industry needs an ordered roadmap. This can be divided into three broad areas of technical activity:

The first is Quality of Interoperability. In order to ensure interoperability across systems and devices, there should be a constant conversation with manufacturers to balance the business requirements of both service providers who receive ongoing revenues and CE manufacturers who do not. To ease the complexities in interoperability is there a standard set of measurement metrics the industry can use to test, diagnose and solve faults?

There are now more smartphones and consoles in China than there are TVs in the world

Quality of Experience emphasises the merits of basic operation and the value of attributes that will provide, for example, the best HDR, the richest colour range, the optimum picture and sound. What are the minimum true end-to-end requirements to deliver a consistent and reliable viewer experience? All of these combine to push the industry to deliver the very best for the consumer.

The third key area is Quality of Security. With analysts estimating more than 420 million connected devices in UK homes by 2020, the cybersecurity risks for citizens has never been higher. TVs and home speakers are the most vulnerable to attacks. The DTG endorses the UK government’s Code of Practice which shifts the onus for secure internet-connected devices and apps from consumers to manufacturers, designers and suppliers.

Innovation in consumer electronics devices, in partnership with service providers, will shape the future television experience. DTG Testing advocates joint exploration of trends in consumer television device architecture, in the context of evolving content formats, contemporary AV pipelines (origins, storage/caches, encoding/transcoding) and control planes (including accounting, administration, analytics, advertising, recommendations, search engines, App stores and DRM). 

The evolution of the TV client, UI and display technologies as well as evolving regulation and legislation must also be considered if the viewer experience is to be protected, and stakeholders are to derive the maximum economic and social value of the unique opportunity that lies ahead.

Text by Ian Medland, Director of DTG Testing