Riding the Wave of Over The Top Video Streaming

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Interview with Telco Transformation Magazine – Part 1

I was recently asked to participate in a fun interview with Aditya Kishore from Telco Transformation Magazine and really enjoyed a wide ranging discussion on the following topics;

  • What are your chief responsibilities at Sky?
  • What are the key areas of focus for you today?
  • How do you see the balance between the two services shifting?
  • How do you see the video/pay-TV space evolving in the future — let’s say the next five years?

One of the key challenges with OTT services, is closing the gap with Satellite and Aditya says it best;

“Sky customers accustomed to digital satellite quality are unwilling to endure low-quality streaming experiences on the Internet; they expect a high-quality experience regardless of device or access network. And it’s Webb’s responsibility to create the best experience possible for streaming customers, despite the vagaries of Internet connections. As such, his goal is to “close the gap” between the video experience a customer has on a private, controlled network like satellite, on one hand; and the open and unpredictable Internet, on the other.”

In the second part (available in 1-2 weeks), we discuss CDNs, video compression and DRM.


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Sky Technology Conference 2017 – Why we should all care about video quality?

As a broadcaster operating in both satellite and OTT spaces, we have exceptionally talented developers who create amazing software that millions of customers use every day (Now TV, Sky Q, Sky Go, SkySports). Whilst the OTT software stack is critical to success, we are reminded that we effectively give it away for free, so that customers can be enjoy the industry’s best sports, movies, entertainment and news content on their devices.

I was invited to speak at the Sky Technology Developer conference on the topic of “Why we should all care about Video Quality?”. The main focus of my talk was to demonstrate that you need to have an end to end view of the whole ecosystem in place to achieve the quality of experience that our customers expect.

At Sky, we use Conviva to record millions of streaming sessions every day across our OTT clients. This highly valuable data is used to measure the viewing experience and make automatic changes, such as swapping CDN A with CDN B when conditions dictate.

With any OTT streaming service, the ultimate measure of success is to have the technology get out of the way of the customer experience. If we can achieve this, then our business will continue to grow market share and prosper.. Conviva is helping us with this goal and good software integration is critical to ensuring all devices get a consistent experience with four key performance metrics as a minimum;

  • Buffering ratio.
  • Average bitrate.
  • Video start failure.
  • Exit before video start.

Below, I present what I believe to be the formula for running a successful streaming service

Amazing Content + Super Developers + Great Network + Customer Service = Quality.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the talk.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below.

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BVE Conference 2017 – The Future of OTT

I was asked to speak on a panel discussion at the BVE conference in London on March 2nd. As you can imagine from the topic, this was a very wide ranging discussion covering all areas of our industry with the following agenda;

Consumers today can view more content on more devices than ever before, and the OTT revolution shows no signs of slowing down. What will OTT content and delivery look like in 5 or 10 years? This panel discussion will look at OTT today and tomorrow, focusing on the following challenges and opportunities:

  • Multiplatform viewing: mobile, connected device, and smart TV
  • Rights acquisition and DRM
  • Monetisation models: SVOD, AVOD, and TVOD
  • 4K and HDR
  • Data-driven advertising
  • Live events
  • The impact of VR and AR

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TV Connect 2017 – Strategies for Using CDNs or Building Your Own

I was invited to speak on a lively and controversial panel discussing “Strategies for Using CDNs or Building Your Own” at the TV Connect conference on March 30th. The panel was moderated by Gerry O’Sullivan with a fantastic selection of industry experts;

Andy Burnett@ITV – Director of Online Technology & Operations
Jeff Web@Sky – Principal Streaming Architect
Ian Parr@BT – Head of Design
Mike Gordon@DLVR – Co Founder and CEO
Weijun Lee@ZTE – Top Strategic Technologies Executive
Jamie Panagos@Charter Communications – Senor Director, Video Operations

Aditya Kishore@Telco Transformation has written an excellent article on the discussion available here.



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Streaming Forum 2017 – Virtualisation for media publishers, CDNs and operators

My second public speaking was a panel discussion at Streaming Forum 2017, running alongside the BVE conference at ExCel in London on March 1st. The topic was “Virtualisation for media publishers, CDNs and operators”. I’d like to personally thank Dom, Andy and Mike for taking part in a very interesting debate and hope you enjoy  watching the video.

We examine the evolution of technology trends in the streaming space over the past 20 years, and why the trend is towards virtualisation at all levels – from media encoding and transcoding to delivery – leading to higher availability, stronger security, and higher service velocity. The increasing availability of graphics processors in commodity chipsets is changing the dynamic of where and how media is treated. This session will present a case study showing how this can provide for ‘carrier-grade’ availability even if the underlying fabric is only offering commodity-grade SLAs. Panellists will discuss how virtualisation is evolving in the operator space, and how it is changing the strategy of telcos and media distributors as they seek to bring these capabilities to market.

My comments can be heard at;

25:45 Thoughts of virtualisation and the power of software and micro services. What happens when a premier league events happens?

36:25 Thoughts on why we need low latency video streaming to be closer to live. Challenges with standard protocols and why metrics are important. Taking your colleagues on the journey with you. “Why do you need to touch the Sky 1 channel? Hey there’s this IP thing, it’s the future and you need to get on board.”

47:20 Thoughts on opportunities provided by virtualisation, micro services to scale streaming and vod services.

56:49 Thoughts on storage and high performance storage.

1:00:50 “Satellite is a cost effective mass market distribution system”. “People are time poor and we all have this challenge and if anything, this pace is accelerating and this mantra about doing less with more, also applies to people and to time.”

Moderator: Dom Robinson, Director and Creative Firestarter – id3as & Contributing Editor,, UK
Andy Conway, Key Account Manager – Kontron, UK
Jeff Webb, Principal Streaming Architect – Sky, UK
Mike Ory, Engineering Manager, Digital Platforms – Verizon Digital Media Platforms, USA
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