Whether on TVs, Laptops or iPhones, ITV ensures Viewers see their Favourite TV Programmes
CLIENT DESCRIPTION: ITV is the UK’s largest commercial television network, providing programming to viewers via 15 regional licences. ITV Network also commissions, schedules and markets network programmes on ITV1, the UK’s biggest commercial public broadcaster. Programmes from ITV are provided by both ITV’s in-house production unit and the independent sector. Network programming genres include drama, entertainment, news, current affairs, sports, and children’s programming. In addition, each of the ITV licensees provides regional programming to cater to people living in different parts of the U.K.
ITV also owns the digital channel portfolio ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, and CiTV. ITV plc also provides a range of new media and interactive services via the Internet, iOS devices, mobiles and gaming consoles, such as Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP). Additional information on ITV plc can be found on the company’s website at www.itvplc.com.
- For ITV to successfully expand the reach of its services from traditional TV delivery to live streaming of programmes in high quality to broadband and mobile platforms.
- First-generation streaming to provide a web and iPhone service to deliver the FIFA World Cup (July 2010) in such a way that fans watching from their computers or iPhones didn't miss a kick, slide or tackle.
- Second-generation streaming to provide a high-quality adaptive streaming experience to a wider choice of platforms, such as iPad, Android and Smartphone 3GPP
SOLUTIONS: ITV moved the majority of its online operations to Cisco Media Processor platforms (formerly Inlet Technologies’ Spinnaker platforms, now owned by Cisco), supplied by Garland Partners Limited (GPL). The transformation began in May 2010 when ITV began working with GPL to create the perfect streaming solution to deliver the FIFA World Cup on both Web and iPhone platforms, and has continued since. Most recently ITV developed its simulcast services to successfully stream the Rugby World Cup 2011 from New Zealand on ITV4 online and iPhone and iPad platforms.
“The solution was adaptive streaming—providing viewers with the best possible feed for the bandwidth available to them,” says Lorna Garrett, Director of GPL. “GPL supplied ITV with eight AS7100s―the high-definition (HD) platform from Cisco. Using these encoders, ITV was able to stream broadband feeds to its website using three adaptive streams at 200 kbps, 400 kbps and 1200 kbps. An iPhone service was streamed offering three adaptive streams (low, medium and high) at 110 kbps, 200 kbps and 400 kbps with a resolution of 400 x 300 to ensure they could capture all the action on the go, whether through their 3G or Wi-Fi connections.
Knowing they will also be offering iPad, Android and Smartphone 3GPP streaming, ITV have since asked GPL to provide a further nine Cisco Media Processor platforms. These higher performance AS8100s each provide eight simultaneous output streams (and re-wrapped up to 32) for robust adaptive bitrate streaming. ITV also integrated the Cisco Media Management Console (formerly Inlet Spinnaker Management Console - SMC), which allows them easy collective management of all variants of Cisco Media Processors (up to 50 on one licence).
With bitrates on the AS8100 of 1,200 Kbps, 800 Kbps, 600 Kbps, and 400 Kbps, fours steps are being used for ITV’s adaptive bitrate streaming that goes into their new in-house designed Player. This reflects the same profiles as used in their VOD (video on demand) strategy to give the viewers the same experience.
“GPL supported ITV to set up and commission the new services,” explains Garrett. “We have helped optimise the profiles to ensure the best quality with the available bandwidth, and we’ve trained ITV’s engineers on the system.”
ITV1, ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 have been running 24/7 on itv.com Simulcast services using Cisco platforms since April 2011. This included successful coverage of the Royal Wedding.
Three of the AS7100s initially brought in for streaming of the FIFA World Cup are now being used by ITV Sports Monitoring. From wherever they are in the world, sports executives and producers can see what is going out live by tuning into their iPad, iPhones, or PC and logging into the stream. In September 2011, this was used to stream the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand on ITV4 Simulcast service and also to iPhone and iPad Rugby World Cup apps.
Viewers of ITV programmes—which dominated six of the top 10 ratings spots last year—are now able to watch their favourites whenever they want. Programmes such as The X Factor, top-rated drama Downton Abbey, and the ever-popular Britain's Got Talent and I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here are on computer and mobile screens everywhere through ITV Player.
ITV has begun the move into Pay-TV after agreeing to a deal to launch HD versions of ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 to pay-TV platforms such as Sky. As well as moving into pay-TV, the company plans to introduce “micro-payments” to watch some programmes on ITV.com.
Industry: Broadcast & Media
Equipment: AS8100 Series Media Processor Encoders, Media Processor Management Console