NAGRA Initiatives Lower Bar To Launching Multiscreen TV

Olivier Wellmann, VP, next generation OS, NAGRA

Olivier Wellmann, VP, next generation OS, NAGRA

October 1, 2012 – NAGRA has opened two highly flexible paths to next-generation pay TV services – one that leverages its next-generation middleware to enable multiscreen services, advanced advertising and interactive apps in legacy set-top as well as advanced whole-home gateway environments and another, in Europe, that provides a turnkey, cloud-based multiscreen solution for operators and broadcasters.
 
The company’s new HomeCruise reference platform for gateways and other media streaming devices utilizes the recently introduced OpenTV 5 middleware to provide set-top box and device manufacturers a ready-made means to create a wide range of products suited to specific pay TV and broadcaster service environments, explains Samir Mehta, senior vice president for digital TV solutions at NAGRA. “NAGRA HomeCruise takes full advantage of the multi-service capabilities of OpenTV 5 and is immediately available to our device partners,” he says.

At the same time, just getting off the ground in Europe is the abertis-NAGRA Multiscreen Cloud Service, which NAGRA has put together with Spanish network infrastructure operator abertis telecom. Designed to allow any type of service provider to deliver live and on-demand TV content over broadband connections, the service is now in trial with ten free-to-air broadcasters and in pre-launch mode with two service providers – Melita PLC in Malta and OTT provider Mediaset in Italy.

The globally targeted HomeCruise reference platform exploits the converging service agendas of broadband, broadcast and mobile operators by allowing manufacturers to deliver what providers need in the way of advanced functionalities, whatever types of devices are appropriate to a given user base, Mehta notes. He says the platform can scale from IP-only set-tops to broadcast-to-IP gateways, hybrid personal video recorders and full home media gateways on any network type, including cable, satellite, terrestrial or IP.

OpenTV 5, built on a new architecture but backward compatible with OpenTV 2, was named “Best Middleware & CPE” at the Connected World TV Awards at the recent IBC conference in Amsterdam. “Giving service providers the ability to accelerate innovation in a constantly changing and increasingly complex TV environment in a wirelessly connected home was the driving force behind its design,” Mehta says.

OpenTV 5 encompasses all the TV-centric features expected from an advanced solution, he adds, including the ability to deliver broadcast, PVR, on-demand, home networking and OTT services as well as non-traditional capabilities such as multi-runtime environment support, cloud enablement, built-in data analytics, content transcoding, social TV and feature-rich and intuitive content discovery. The middleware can be bundled with a wide range of user experiences, including NAGRA or third-party guides and applications to deliver solutions that leverage capabilities such as OTT delivery and rapid application authoring in Web-based environments such as HTML5, Mehta adds.

Critically, the HomeCruise reference platform includes the transcoding processing framework that allows operators to serve IP devices from the gateway without having to implement a separate IP feed of premium content over the network. “The ability to leverage existing broadcast infrastructure to monetize IP connected devices like tablets and smart phones in a home is a clear differentiator for service providers,” Mehta says.

NAGRA has been highlighting the versatility of the reference design with demonstrations of a small broadcast-to-IP gateway designed to coexist with deployed set-tops as a means of delivering secure live linear pay TV channels to tablets, smartphones, PCs and other IP-enabled devices without incurring high set-top replacement costs. “The microGateway allows you to get your pay TV service onto connected devices without doubling up on bandwidth, negotiating new contracts with CDN suppliers or trading out legacy set-tops,” says Olivier Wellmann, vice president for next generation OS at NAGRA.

The device, slated for general availability in the first quarter of next year, acts as an independent content access point that tunes to subscribed services and transcodes to the proper format without disrupting household viewing, Wellmann explains. “It’s a very simple device you can ship to subscribers,” he adds.

Once the box is connected to a coax outlet and via its Ethernet port to a Wi-Fi router, it decodes and descrambles the signals and transcodes them to the IP device requirements, The box employs NAGRA’s studio-certified in-home DRM solution, NAGRA Persistent Rights Management (PRM), to enable secure streaming to authorized viewing devices. NAGRA’s Media Player, a secure media player for open devices, provides support for a customizable user experience utilizing extended rich metadata from third-party providers.

“Initially we saw a lot of interest from cable operators, but now we’re seeing interest from satellite providers as well,” Wellmann says. “We think the prospects are very good for this.”

With a partner ecosystem of more than 40 set-top and other device manufacturers worldwide, NAGRA has developed the first iteration of the HomeCruise reference platform for set-tops and Apple iOS. The company is expanding the implementations of the reference platform to include connected TVs and Android devices.

Operating on a separate track but with parallel implications for expediting transitions to multiscreen service the abertis-NAGRA cloud service is designed to free pay TV service providers and free-to-air broadcasters from the technical complexities associated with implementing their own IP delivery infrastructures. “This new service is a unique opportunity for pay-TV service providers and broadcasters to deploy any kind of content and programming, whether live or on-demand, quickly and seamlessly to any device,” says Jean-Michel Puiatti, vice president of sales, operations and development at NAGRA

The solution leverages a seamless integration of broadcast and broadband services with a suite of capabilities designed to optimize monetization, including subscription, transaction and advertising models, micro-payments and recommendation – as well as support for Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV). NAGRA is contributing its expertise and building blocks for content management, service delivery, digital rights management, analytics and metadata management and user interface frameworks to the cloud service, Puiatti says.

abertis telecom, the provider of Spain’s main telecommunications network in radio and television broadcasting, is taking overall responsibility for the hosting and operations of the platform within its datacenters while leveraging its existing network and transport infrastructure, including a far-reaching CDN. In addition, abertis will provide its ingest facilities, CRM platform, payment gateways and advertising management system, and it is managing customer care and assistance.