Remo Vogel (Rundfunk Berlin Brandenburg)
After I saw the Eurovision Song Contest broadcast as a live stream in the late 90s, I was totally convinced that television would be devoured by the internet within 10 years. It didn’t happen that quickly. But today, those working on the transformation of public service media (PSM) distribution can see that we have a final window of opportunity for television to secure its place in the age of the internet.
Serving the cord-cutters
The digital transformation is still at a relatively early stage for PSM. While other industries have already had to completely turn their business models upside down, classic broadcasting continues to work amazingly well. At the same time, we are experiencing a strong change in user behaviour, especially among younger generations. On the one hand, there is a tendency towards consuming content on demand, without regard for linear schedules; on the other hand, we also see a trend towards the use of linear services via IP. While the big screen is booming, there is a growing number of so-called ‘cord- cutters’ – users giving up entirely on multichannel television services – seeking only OTT- device support, from big screens to smartphones.
Up to now, live streaming has taken place in an unstructured way using proprietary solutions. While the streaming technology itself is (most recently with MPEG-DASH) very mature, there has been no standardized approach for access on the big screen. This is exactly where DVB-I comes in, combining classic broadcast with OTT in a hybrid approach and allowing a homogeneous user experience. Thus DVB-I allows a smooth migration from broadcast to broadband and gives control to PSM organizations over priorities and quality parameters.
While the technology is still in an early phase, several markets are examining the potential of DVB-I. In addition to the private broadcasters, completely new players are emerging. Therefore, it is extremely important for us to actively shape the start-up phase and to secure the interests of PSM. This includes both service prominence on future devices and applications as well as the availability of features like accessibility. ARD and ZDF are collaborating on describing a service scope that reflects our interests in a first draft “Profile for DVB-I usage”.
To really get a picture of the potentials and weaknesses of a technology, you simply have to try it out and gain practical experience. That’s why we decided in mid-2020 to start with a DVB-I pilot at rbb. As we use the DVB-SI (service information) playout for the entire ARD network in Potsdam, we can provide the service lists and programme data for ARD and ZDF in our DVB-I service list with modest effort. We have been using MPEG-DASH livestreams for other use cases for quite some time. Thanks to the DVB-I reference application provided by the DVB Project, we can concentrate completely on our role, the provision of metadata and streams.
We are at the beginning of our implementation and intend to expand it in iterative steps. We will ensure our activity aligns with developments in the global and national ecosystem and aim to support the market introduction of DVB-I.