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TECHNOLOGIES by Keith Wymbs, Elemental 4k Streaming: A Key OTT Differentiator O TT streaming providers are amongst the first to offer 4k UHD TV services. In fact, 4k UHD may be seen as a key differentiator for OTT services such as Netflix and M-GO as they compete with pay TV operators according to a recent report from ABI Research. Netflix has launched 4k video streaming of shows such as House of Cards and Breaking Bad. YouTube now also supports 4k playback resolutions, while 4k UHD video players are becoming available for PCs. The control and ownership of flexible software players differentiates this market’s ability to roll out new technologies more quickly. OTT is evolving to include live 4k services, although the bulk of 4k content is currently only available on demand. Thanks to the latest iterations of the MPEG-DASH adaptive bitrate streaming protocol, a signifi cant portion of 4k UHD TV broadcasts are now taking place online for web-based applications or through the European HbbTV standard for smart TVs. In May of 2014, the Vienna State Opera used Elemental encoders to stream the world’s fi rst live opera production in 4k UHD TV HEVC. Delivered via the MPEG-DASH, Verdi’s Nabucco starring Plácido Domingo was made available for viewing on the Internet, smart TVs and mobile devices. For pay TV operators, premium sports content remains a major driver of 4k UHD adoption:. As the fi rst vendor with a video processing solution capable of supporting live HEVC encoding for 4k UHD, Elemental has assured end-to-end video processing interoperability for multiple unprecedented live 4k workfl ows over the past year: • During the Sochi Winter Games, Elemental worked with Russian satellite TV operator NTV Plus and semiconductor supplier Broadcom to transmit the world’s fi rst 4k high-effi ciency video coding (HEVC/H.265) satellite transmission • In May, Elemental partnered with Sky Deutschland to successfully deliver the world’s fi rst Ultra HD broadcast of a live football match, between FC Bayern Munich and SV Werder Bremen. • For the World Cup, Broadcom and Elemental collaborated to deliver 4k UHD TV satellite broadcast of the fi nal three matches with Brazilian pay TV provider, Globosat, to selected subscribers and Pay TV operators at 4kp60 10-bit Rec 2020 color. 62 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 96 DECEMBER 2014 Satellite TV providers also are in a good position to deploy live 4k services rapidly by addressing UHD TV sets that include HEVC decoders or by bundling new HEVC compliant set-top boxes with their service. DirecTV has publicly announced its intent to launch 4k offerings on-demand before the end of the year. The same timeline applies to major forward-thinking cable operators, while telco operators may launch 4k UHD TV services to add value and further entice consumers to sign up for their fi ber to the home (FTTH) offers. However, those telco operators that remain reliant on copper wires are less likely to roll out 4k UHD TV any time before VDSL factoring becomes more prevalent in access networks. Software-Defined Video: 4k Enabler Software-defi ned video (SDV) systems used to process MPEG-2 video can offer a more seamless migration path to H.264 and high-effi ciency video coding (HEVC/H.265) than dedicated hardware equipment. SDV is an infrastructure agnostic approach to implementing fl exible, scalable and easily upgradable video architectures. Unlike legacy solutions, this advancement allows video providers to deploy software across an optimal combination of dedicated and virtualized resources in both private and public data centers. A software-defi ned approach frees video providers from the constraints of dedicated equipment by allowing for the best architecture and processor combination to be used for a particular application, even if that application changes over time. Support for new services and video formats can be integrated seamlessly through simple software upgrades. For example, Elemental software-defi ned video solutions currently offer full frame rate 4k Ultra HD video encoding using the HEVC codec, ensuring that customers will be able to continually support new video compression standards as they are adopted. In some cases, advances developed for newer codecs such as HEVC can also be applied to previous codec generations. These may include de-interlacing, scalar processing, color correction, noise fi ltering and other special purpose effects such as scene change detection, transition detection, and complexity measurements.