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EchoStar Adds OTT Smarts

Conviva has inked a deal that will bring its video optimization platform to EchoStar Technologies and its support for two IP offerings from corporate cousin Dish Network – Dish Anywhere, the satellite company’s authenticated TV Everywhere product, and Dish World, the over-the-top international sports subscription service.

The agreement announced Wednesday only mentions  Dish Anywhere and Dish World, but a logical, additional candidate for Conviva’s technology is Dish’s coming single-stream OTT subscription video service that will largely target a group of so-called “cord-cutters” and “cord-nevers.”

EchoStar has a clear stake in that effort. EchoStar will continue to provide engineering and platform operation services to Dish’s emerging digital/OTT service, but the tech unit will no longer be obligated to fund one-third of the project’s ongoing costs, EchoStar CEO and president Michael Dugan said last Thursday (Aug. 7) on the company’s second quarter earnings call. Under the revised arrangement, EchoStar also retained a right to 10% “of the value created by the growth of Dish Digital,” he added.

Meanwhile, central to the technology agreement tied to Dish Anywhere and Dish World, is Conviva’s Intelligent Control Platform and Conviva Precision, systems that rely on real-time analytics to boost the quality of video applications and services delivered over the Internet. Among its components, Conviva’s platform collects data from millions of devices that obtain IP video services from the Conviva’s customers, a list that includes ESPN, NBCUniversal, HBO, Viacom, Virgin Media, DirecTV, Starz, Verizon, and Ziggo, among others.

Conviva collects that data and processes it to determine if a video session started properly or if it’s experiencing buffering or some other issue that is impacting the quality of the experience, and root the issue to its origin, whether it’s at the peering point, on the access network. It matches that data with conditions occurring on the Internet and uses a predictive algorithm to avoid traffic jams and to find the most optimal path.

“The more traffic we put on our system, the smarter it becomes,” Chris Roach, Conviva’s vice president, Americas, said, noting that Conviva currently monitors nearly 5 billion streams per month. “This control layer for publishers enables the transformation of Web video to Internet television.”

While adaptive bit rate streaming adjusts the bit rate and resolution of a video based on available bandwidth, the technique doesn’t typically use a broader set of data to determine the more global conditions of the Internet, he said.

“Conviva’s robust platform delivers several key applications that allow us to optimize the quality of experience for DISH Internet TV services across all devices, providing granular, real-time analytics and preemptive optimization,” said Jeff McSchooler, senior vice president of engineering for EchoStar, in a statement. “We strive to give DISH subscribers a streaming experience with little interruption and the highest picture quality possible. The visibility and control Conviva provides is critical to that ongoing endeavor.”