Wowza has made great strides as the supplier of a software system that allows distributors to stream video to a wide range of disparate device clients from a single file, obviating the need for managing different files for each streaming mode. With over 70,000 licensees in entertainment, social media, advertising, enterprise, education and other segments worldwide, the supplier has been especially successful with content delivery network (CDN) operators, a large number of which have implemented the Wowza software on their servers to support multi-device streaming from a single file stored in any cache location.
Now, says James Hart, vice president of sales and marketing at CDN supplier Mirror Image, the support for advanced digital rights management and other capabilities to be implemented as add-ons with release of Wowza Media Server 3 open new business opportunities for his company. The new platform “will help us create and monetize new services while further boosting our competitive position,” he says.
Other software add-ons to be made available with release of the upgraded platform in Q3 include a transcoder module and a component supporting network DVR. Together, the enhancements provide solutions and revenue-generating services for an ever-growing number of destinations, says Wowza CMO Alex Dobrushin. These include Flash- and Silverlight-capable computers, tablets, phones, set-top boxes, media players, and game consoles; Apple iPhone/iPad and other HLS-capable devices such as Apple TV with AirPlay , ROKU media players, and Internet-connected TVs like Samsung, Smart TV, and Google TV-powered sets.
The transcoder, running on commodity hardware with the media server, transforms incoming live streams from multiple sources, such as encoders, IP cameras, IPTV headends and other live sources for distribution in H.264 mode to devices in whatever streaming format they are designed to support, Dobrushin explains. These include Flash RTMP and HTTP Dynamic Streaming, Apple HLS, and Silverlight Smooth Streaming.
“Wowza Transcoder can also be used for non-adaptive streaming using any transport protocol supported by Wowza Media Server 3, including RTMP, RTSP/RTP, MPEG-TS, and HTTP,” he says. Like the other add-ons, the transcoder is licensed at additional cost.
“Customers can pre-build their adaptive streaming profiles for Web, IPTV and mobile with a lot of hooks that allow them to create their own bit rates or resolutions beyond the default profiles,” he adds. “At the simplest operational level people can simply point and click on the user interface to create the profile, or, at the expert level, they can tune everything to their own requirements.”
The network DVR module is a live stream cache that stores content in a normalized format accessible to Wowza Media Server 3 for any-screen playout. Compared to client-specific nDVR implementations, Wowza Network DVR significantly reduces cost by minimizing network storage requirements and simplifying the delivery workflow for all screens, Dobrushin notes.
“Customers have been asking for this,” he says. “There were challenges for us to make it available. You can have the same DVR capability on the TV, mobile and PC. That includes trick-play features such as live-stream pause, rewind and resume as well as the ability to set the time for automatically recording future programming. Operators can offer this as a premium feature or give it away. These kinds of capabilities are realigning how providers think about their business models.”
The DRM add-on using the VCAS technology supplied by Verimatrix is designed to work with HLS but, at this point, not the other streaming modes. “Partnering with Verimatrix enables us to offer a best-of-breed solution to our customers who need studio-approved security for delivery of premium content,” says Wowza CEO and co-founder Dave Stubenvoll. The security will cover a wide range of devices, including set-top boxes (STBs), connected TVs, iPhones, iPads, and Android tablets, Stubenvoll says.
“Wowza brings a unique set of capabilities to bear on the challenges of real-time video transcoding and delivery,” observes Steve Oetegenn, chief sales and marketing officer at Verimatrix. “Because Wowza’s implementation of standard HLS protocol is extremely robust, integration with the VCAS key management solution was straightforward.”
HLS, the most widely used adaptive streaming format, is incompatible with Smooth and Adobe’s formats. However, Verimatrix is deeply involved with the MPEG Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH) initiative, which is rapidly progressing toward standardization of a means of streaming to HLS and Smooth clients from a single file. This would extend the implementation of VCAS into Smooth.
There’s worldwide demand for the means to stream premium content over the Internet, Dobrushnin notes. He names Vivendi, owner of France pay TV network Canal+, as a case in point. “Canal+ says they want to deliver their content over the top, which requires robust security,” he says. “We have many OTT customers in Europe, Latin America and Eastern Europe who want to offer premium content.”