SVA Greenlights Group Focused on Live TV

Taking aim at a key hurdle, the Streaming Video Alliance has kicked off a new working group that will focus on live TV.

The scope of that new group is somewhat wide early on, but its general focus is on standards and best practices around areas such as network architecture, reducing latency and protocol utilization, SVA executive director Jason Thibeault said.

“We deliberately kept the charter [of the new working group] a bit broad, [focusing] on how we can get OTT live linear to behave and act like traditional live, linear broadcast,” he explained.

The new working group, established at the SVA quarterly meeting earlier this month at Viacom’s headquarters building in New York, will also spend time looking beyond parity and how online live TV can offer a better experience than traditional broadcast, including the incorporation of technologies like High Dynamic Range and 4K and 8K resolutions.

Latency has been a major issue for OTT providers, as streaming video feeds tend to reach viewers 30 seconds or more behind traditional TV. Part of the goal is to get OTT live linear to synchronize as closely as possible with the traditional live, linear broadcast.

“It’s something that many in our member base are concerned about,” Thibeault said. “The majority of our member base has wanted to participate in that working group.”

Members span the gamut of the video streaming ecosystem, and include a mix of service providers, content companies and video tech vendors. Examples include Amazon Web Services, BamTech Media, Charter Communications, Verizon Communications, Comcast, Fox Networks, Qwilt, Liberty Global and Sky. Google, the company behind YouTube TV, is a recent addition to the SVA club.

“I think we’ve reached critical mass” with respect to members, Thibeault said, but acknowledged that the SVA, a group formed in late 2014, would likewise be eager to have companies such as Netflix, Apple, Microsoft and Hulu on board.

“Our doors are always open for people who want to come in and meaningfully contribute to what we’re doing,” Thibeault said.

The SVA also appears to be open to working with the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia), an organization that recently introduced AV1, a royalty-free, next-generation video codec that claims to provide a 30% bandwidth efficiency improvement over current-gen codecs such as HEVC and VP9. AV1 is expected to focus initially on OTT video rather than traditional TV platforms.

The SVA and AOMedia have not held any formal discussions, “but there will be,” Thibeault predicted.

“We want to make sure we are in lock step with them and involve them in our work as much as possible,” Thibeault said.

The SVA, he added, is also advancing its work centered on an open caching system/architecture aimed at driving more scale and quality into OTT.

While much of that activity has centered on how open caching devices can interconnect with larger open caching networks, other content delivery networks and other service provider operator networks, a bit of that work is also fixating on the home.

A subgroup of the Open Caching workgroup is taking a look at the role of home storage, and exploring how the pre-positioning of movies and TV shows on network attached storage devices used by consumers can help to reduce latency when that content is streamed.