The glossary of OTT: getting your jargon right

The Glossary of OTT: getting your jargon right, find out key definitions.

CDN (or video CDN)

A CDN (content delivery network) stores, or caches, the various video streams, packaged for each device format and streams them on-demand to connected user devices. CDN cache servers can be hosted in data centers called PoPs (Points of Presence) that are located close to end users so as to minimize delivery time, or latency. CDNs act as a shield to protect origin servers from multiple requests, which takes the workload off the origin server. The CDN is the part of the content distribution infrastructure that needs to scale as the user base grows.

 

CDVR (or cloud DVR)

CDVR is a service that allows viewers on an IPTV or OTT network to record selected content (movies, shows, sports events, etc) to view later. A buffer also allows users to pause during a live stream, replay, start over, etc. Where conventional DVR features will record programs on a hard disk drive inside the user’s set top box, cloud DVRs record programs in a cloud infrastructure, which results in potentially unlimited recording and access from any other device, anywhere, anytime.

 

CMAF (Common Media Application Format)

CMAF is a video streaming format introduced in 2016 with the ambition to provide one single universal format for OTT content distribution. If successful, CMAF will potentially reduce network traffic and allow content distribution networks to operate with lighter CDNs.

 

DRM (Digital Rights Management)

DRM refers to technologies developed to restrict the use of copyrighted material (music, movies, TV shows, etc). DRM ensures media files may only be displayed by viewers who have either purchased the content or subscribed to an IPTV or OTT service that has this content listed. DRM technologies rely on encryption algorithms that are used to encode the file on the server, then decode it on the user’s playback device.

 

EDS (embedded distribution storage)

EDS is an Anevia technology based on a hyper-converged environment, where storage and compute components are optimized to work together on a single commodity appliance. Each server embeds storage capacity. So to scale the infrastructure, an operator simply needs to add nodes to the cluster. EDS simplifies the integration between streaming and storage. It also optimizes resource usage.

 

Flamingo

Flamingo is Anevia’s family of video headend solutions for the enterprise market. Flamingos  allow hospitals, hotels, cruise ships, off-shore bases, businesses… to distribute TV signals and video content throughout a given site, to multiple screens and devices. Beyond DRM capabilities and multiscreen services, Flamingos can offer on-demand TV and recording features that allow users to replay their preferred movies and shows, create playlists, etc.

 

IPTV

IPTV refers to the distribution of TV content over Internet Protocol (IP) networks that are managed by a TV operator, as opposed to conventional terrestrial, satellite or cable formats. TV content streamed through an IPTV network can be displayed using a client media player that can be provided as software for laptops or mobile devices, or embedded in an appliance such as a connected TV or set top box. IPTV streams may carry live feeds, time-shifted media or video on demand (VOD).

 

Just-in-time packaging

This is what happens when the packager outputs a compatible video stream on-the-fly, when a request comes in from a user with a given playback device. Just-in-time packaging is a dynamic approach to OTT, by opposition to a situation where copies of a given media are generated ahead of time for all playback devices and stored on a server, waiting for user requests to come in. This reduces storage requirements server side and allows for future proof cloud DVR content.

 

Mega head-end

A mega head-end is a video head-end that concentrates in one same location the resources to act as an IPTV distribution hub for several separate buildings (hotels, healthcare institutions, etc). Where a video head-end is usually a server located within a hotel’s local IT infrastructure, a mega head-end is a cluster of servers in a dedicated location, receiving live TV feeds through an array of satellite dishes.

 

Multiscreen TV

Multiscreen TV is a service offered by content distribution networks that allows movies and TV programs accessed by a viewer to be displayed on a TV, as well as on any other connected user device: laptop, smartphone, tablet, game console, etc.

Some multiscreen TV services also allow registered users to log in from various locations. This means viewers may watch their programs from their homes as well as on the go, from their mobile devices, as long as they have Internet access.

 

NEA-CDN

NEA-CDN is Anevia’s CDN server, that lets TV operators scale their infrastructure for peak viewing. NEA-CDN uses advanced video caching algorithms, such as content awareness, to improve caching efficiency and hit-ratio. NEA-CDN can also be built on an elastic cloud infrastructure that can match any viewing demand by temporarily scaling up during peak events, reducing latency and offering viewers a consistent quality of experience.

 

NEA-DVR

NEA-DVR is Anevia’s origin/packager server for FullHD and 4K stored content distribution. Where NEA-LIVE provides OTT services for the streaming of live and time-shifted content, NEA-DVR adds recording functions and stored media features (on-demand video, etc). NEA-DVR also offers multiscreen TV capabilities, as well as cloud storage, giving users potentially unlimited recording, on every screen or device. NEA-DVR can work with NEA-CDN, Anevia’s CDN server, or with third party CDNs to ensure the streaming infrastructure is fit to match the number of viewers accessing the service simultaneously.

 

NEA-LIVE

NEA-LIVE is Anevia’s origin/packager server for FullHD and 4K live and time-shifted TV services. From a live feed, NEA-LIVE records, packages and streams live and near-live content for any given user playback device (connected TV, set-top box, laptop, tablet, smartphone, game console, etc).. NEA-LIVE works with NEA-CDN and with third party CDNs to distribute low latency (under 5 seconds) media streams to all connected users and ensure the streaming infrastructure is fit to match the number of viewers accessing the service simultaneously.

 

Origin server

An origin server holds a video collection, with one copy of each piece of original content (movies, shows, programs, etc), ready to be packaged and streamed to all user devices on request. The origin server is generally located closer to the content owner or producer.

 

OTT

Over-the-top (OTT) refers to a variation of IPTV distribution where users select the TV offering they want, separately from their Internet Service Provider (ISP). OTT differs from a situation where a user has only access to the TV services (a selection of channels, video on demand content and replays) offered by their ISP, generally through a proprietary set-top box connected to their cable, fibre or DSL modem. With OTT, users get their TV programs streamed by their chosen media content provider (Netflix, Amazon, Apple/iTunes, myCanal, etc) through their home Internet access and played back through a connected TV, a set-top box or even a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

 

Packaging

Packaging is the conversion of a video or audio file into a format that is specifically optimized for a given playback device (set-top box, mobile device, connected TV, PC, game console, etc). The stream is in the appropriate device format, for video, audio, subtitles, DRM, etc. It is also in a video resolution and sound quality that matches the device’s capabilities.

The conversion of a given media content into the right device format is done by a packager, which can be located in an origin server, where the original video or live feed is stored.

 

Video encoder

A video encoder receives live content streams or video files (for VOD) from a satellite, cable or terrestrial source and transforms them from their original format into a digital format that can be played back on various devices. The encoder delivers the transformed streams to the origin server.

 

Video head-end

A video head-end is a hub that takes a TV signal coming from a single intake (digital satellite, cable, terrestrial, HDMI, IP or web source) and distributes it throughout a building, over an IP, coax or wireless network. A video head-end also provides the required DRM features to descramble the incoming encrypted digital feeds and re-encrypt them just-in-time for secure delivery to connected TV sets and portable devices through the delivery network.