By Sylvain Eloy, Product Manager, Flamingo product line
One of the most attractive features of IPTV and OTT is Replay TV. This allows viewers to catch their favourite shows pretty much when they want. No more rushing home after work or skipping dinner to watch a scheduled broadcast. Most networks now offer replays of just about every show, accessible through users’ set-top boxes. The concept has really caught on over the years. In fact, many viewers now watch most of their TV content as replays. They hardly bother catching scheduled broadcasts any more.
Replay TV in hotels and healthcare institutions
While replays are now mainstream in the broadcast world, B2B markets such as hospitality, healthcare and compounds have not done much in this area. Few broadcasters have invested in offering replay services for these market segments. Some of them, however, saw the potential very early on. In 2016, Canal Plus, a major pay-TV operator in France, introduced a catch-up TV service as part of its “Canal Pro” offering. Based on Anevia’s Flamingo Replay solution, the service allows existing clients and all new hotels and facilities to include a replay option in their subscription for all channels in their Canal Plus package.
Concretely, Canal Plus provides a turnkey solution that includes the service plan as well as the software and hardware to be deployed in client locations.
The initiative hit the nail on the head. To date, over 5,000 beds have been installed with the service, mostly in healthcare institutions.
What you need to offer Replay TV to enterprises
What should a broadcaster interested in setting up a replay service for the hospitality market look for? Four aspects are key when selecting the underlying technology:
Performance and scalability
Replay is a very popular service – especially in healthcare, where TV is often the number one source of entertainment for patients and residents. With some hospitals lining up more than a thousand beds, it is not practical to serve everyone their own stream over the Internet. This is why a local cache hosting the most popular content will make the service much smoother and more scalable.
With VOD, content stored locally has a low turnover rate. It can be updated at wider intervals, sometimes even locally by a field technician. Replay TV, on the other hand, adds new content on a daily basis, with a short lifespan. Content update must therefore be automated.
Replay needs a two-way connection, to enable user input (play, pause, stop commands, etc.). Therefore, most vendors use IP networks for their replay technology. However, many institutions, in both healthcare and hospitality, still use legacy coax networks. So to reach the widest market, broadcasters must select a technology that is compatible with both IP and coax local TV networks.
Increasingly, broadcasters as well as content owners are requiring stronger end-to-end encryption, to guarantee content integrity. A head-end solution needs to descramble the incoming video streams, then reencode for distribution through the client infrastructure, and finally decode on the device in every room. This is why broadcasters need to select a solution that allows safe content circulation, over both IP and coax networks.
Anevia’s Flamingo product line enables all of these key features, with a strong head start over competition on many aspects. As an example, Flamingo Replay is the only head-end solution on the market to offer the required interactivity for replays, over both IP and coax networks.
While healthcare is where most of the obvious low-hanging fruit is, hospitality is a virtually untouched market with massive potential. In fact, with the adoption of Canal Pro’s replay service well under way in the healthcare market, Canal Plus is now focusing on hotels as part of its 2019 development plans. Food for thought…