CLOUD SPECIAL REPORT 2014: The future of video delivery?

20 June 2014 |

Cloud could be set to play a major role for carriers in the transport and delivery of video services, following the recent launch of Level 3’s Video Cloud Services.

Level 3 Communications appears to have become the first carrier to integrate its content delivery, video broadcast and storage capabilities using the cloud.

“Level 3 is the first to stick all of these services together as a unified service through the cloud,” commented Mukul Krishna, global director of digital media at business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.

With content providers increasingly needing to transfer large amounts of video, Level 3’s strategy is to become a one-stop shop for video transfer and storage. And it believes that cloud is the key to making the most of the rapidly expanding video market.

“Our customers – the broadcasters and the online video companies like Netflix – need an integrated solution between broadcast and streaming,” said Beth Ard, director of segment strategy at Level 3. “The solution has been developed to support our customers to meet increasing consumer demand and offer scalable delivery to devices.”

The unified cloud solution aims to help content providers with divergent workflows, with many companies presently reliant on multiple providers.

“It is starting to become challenging to keep up with evolving technologies and be able to continually format video to the next device that is coming out. Our Video Cloud Services solves this issue for customers,” said Ard.

The move will build on Level 3’s strong position in video content delivery and transport, bringing together its Vyvx broadcast technology with its content delivery solution. Presently, some telcos have the broadcast technology but do not own the CDN, and vice versa.

“The uniqueness comes in the integration of those two assets,” said Ard. “There are few players who have done the integration between those two pieces.”

Level 3 could be targeting large video producers, content providers and TV networks with its latest offering. Some of its existing customers include Netflix, Vivo, MLB Advanced Media – the interactive media and internet company of American Major League Baseball – and the National Football League in the US.

Its offering can also be seen as a response from telcos to the challenge of increasing the revenue potential of video transport beyond simple transport.

Sandvine reported that in the second half of 2012, OTT video content providers Netflix and YouTube accounted for 48% of the total internet traffic in North America. While research by Media Research Group (MRG) estimates that video-on-demand subscription will grow to more than 120 million subscribers by 2017. As telcos increasingly view video as a business opportunity, they have been attempting to optimise their networks for video traffic, Krishna argued.

Tata Communications is another carrier that has been proactive in the cloud video space. Last July, it launched a video cloud service that provides high-definition content transcoding and delivery through the cloud. Tata’s service offers content creators, service providers and media professionals an integrated end-to-end work flow for moving content files to the cloud and transcoding them into broadcast-quality formats ready for delivery and transmission globally.

Verizon too has been exploring how the cloud can bring added benefits to its media partners. Last November it added the assets and operations of television cloud company upLynk to its Digital Media Services portfolio. The technology created by upLynk offers a solution for content owners by streamlining the process of uploading and encoding TV Everywhere for live, linear and video-on-demand content. By using a single adaptive video format across all devices, upLynk greatly simplifies processes such as encoding, storage, ad insertion, playback and analytics to eliminate complexity and enable more agile video workflows.

While Level 3 and other telcos have already been providing delivery and transport of video services as separate solutions for some time, the market appears to have finally reached the maturity level to entertain delivery of unified services.

“It has taken that long for the market to feel that it is ready and we are now seeing a lot of companies providing or orchestrating media services through the cloud,” he commented.