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Orry Verducci1,544 posts since 1 Feb 2005
Granada North West Today
I see two key reasons why ITV (and C4 for that matter) don't offer HD or higher quality SD streams currently.

The first as already pointed out is down to ITV2-4 HD being subscription services, and as such they don't want to provide the HD programming from those channels for free online.

The second will be the bandwidth required for HD and higher quality SD. HD and higher quality SD of course require the videos to be encoded at a higher bitrate (significantly so for HD), which in turn requires significantly increased bandwidth to deliver those streams. Increasing the bandwidth required no doubt requires forking out much more money to their content delivery network partners, and as we all know commercial broadcasters like to keep their costs low to increase their profit or what they can invest in programming. The BBC doesn't have this issue, and therefore does have HD streams, as they have guarranteed revenue to cover the costs of running iPlayer in the form of the portion of the TV license allocated for online services. This is also why Sky subscribers do have HD streams, as Sky host themselves streams delivered to their customers, and therefore take on the bandwidth cost for the broadcasters as a way of enhancing their HD proposition and increasing HD subscribers.
Neil Jones3,414 posts since 23 Dec 2001
Central (West) Midlands Today
This is also why Sky subscribers do have HD streams, as Sky host themselves streams delivered to their customers, and therefore take on the bandwidth cost for the broadcasters as a way of enhancing their HD proposition and increasing HD subscribers.


Sky does not stream anything, at least not on Sky+ anyway.
Sky on Demand is download to the Sky box and play from there. Speed of broadband permitting, it may be available to play nearly immediately giving the impression that it's being streamed.

I don't know how Sky on Demand works with regards to the area(s) it downloads from - I dare say there's big clusters of really high storage servers that the broadcasters like ITV and C4 add their stuff to and the Sky boxes pick it up from there. Or the option may be available as a pull or redivert for BBC material rather than duplicating everything for each platform.
Orry Verducci1,544 posts since 1 Feb 2005
Granada North West Today
Sky does not stream anything, at least not on Sky+ anyway.
Sky on Demand is download to the Sky box and play from there. Speed of broadband permitting, it may be available to play nearly immediately giving the impression that it's being streamed.


I don't know how Sky on Demand works with regards to the area(s) it downloads from - I dare say there's big clusters of really high storage servers that the broadcasters like ITV and C4 add their stuff to and the Sky boxes pick it up from there. Or the option may be available as a pull or redivert for BBC material rather than duplicating everything for each platform.


Indeed you are correct, Sky's service downloads to the box rather than streaming as live.


From what I've seen from Sky's offering (and this is mere speculation), I suspect the broadcasters send Sky their content as DPP compliant files, and Sky then re-encode and package the files for delivery to their receivers.

I don't imagine they pull the existing files as used by the broadcasters services as their receivers require broadcast standard DVB/DTG complaint 'streams' (i.e. 1080i50 H.264 for HD). The broadcasters don't encode such files for their services as they usually deliver to progressive displays (e.g. computers, mobiles, etc) or newer standard smart TVs/receivers which are much more flexible in regards to the formats they support. The only service I know that does encode compatible streams is BBC iPlayer, which they use for some older smart TV's and the MHEG-IC service on Freeview HD receivers that don't support connected red button, however when I last looked at those streams the video quality was rather ropey, which I've not seen at all with Sky's service.
noggin12,072 posts since 26 Jun 2001

From what I've seen from Sky's offering (and this is mere speculation), I suspect the broadcasters send Sky their content as DPP compliant files, and Sky then re-encode and package the files for delivery to their receivers.


That isn't my understanding of the process. AIUI the broadcasters deliver a file in a format that the Sky boxes are happy with, and Sky don't have to do the encoding, just the distribution.

iPlayer and the other services have been on Sky for longer than DPP has been in use as well... (And DPP delivery is still far from universal)

Quote:

I don't imagine they pull the existing files as used by the broadcasters services as their receivers require broadcast standard DVB/DTG complaint 'streams' (i.e. 1080i50 H.264 for HD). The broadcasters don't encode such files for their services as they usually deliver to progressive displays (e.g. computers, mobiles, etc) or newer standard smart TVs/receivers which are much more flexible in regards to the formats they support. The only service I know that does encode compatible streams is BBC iPlayer, which they use for some older smart TV's and the MHEG-IC service on Freeview HD receivers that don't support connected red button, however when I last looked at those streams the video quality was rather ropey, which I've not seen at all with Sky's service.


These days most broadcasters encode lots of different versions of their output for catch-up TV services - with different resolutions, frame rates, audio bitrates, video bitrates etc. as different encoder profiles. The source material will be 1080i - so encoding a 1080i H264 + AC3 5.1 file for Sky is just another (arguably slightly simpler) encoder profile, in addition to the others that are there to deliver for mobile, web, connected tv, consoles etc.

Delivering a Sky specific one would not be a tricky workflow - it just adds another profile requirement.

Certainly the quality of the video on the various catch-up services on Sky varied hugely at one point (not what you'd expect with a DPP delivery and a Sky encode). ITV Player at one point was sub-SD resolution whilst the BBC was high bitrate 1080i with 5.1 Dolby...
pad3,160 posts since 12 Feb 2005
So we have a voiceover lady!




I wonder if/when ITV will start a public beta for this new site.

I would imagine it's quite far through development as they want it launched by the year's end. Certainly the press release says it would be timed to launch alongside American Dad / Family Guy on ITV2.

Really hope they nail this. It needs to be iPlayer-like in quality/speed. Really top notch. Hopefully the team behind it have been thorough and innovative and have created a product that can rival the normal TV for consuming ITV content (like the BBC iPlayer/Netflix).

If the experience is sluggish, adverts badly implemented etc, it won't increase on its current base much.
Last edited by pad on 7 October 2015 12:35am
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tomo359847 posts since 18 Oct 2009
Border (England)
Echoing what Pad has said, I really hope ITV gets this right. Currently ITV Player seems to be one of the weakest on demand platforms, still gets bad comments/reviews, quality still isn't brilliant etc. It doesn't give a good look to the UKs biggest commercial network.

If they can offer a service equal to Netflix/BBC iPlayer then it will be brilliant. It needs to offer good quality playback, at least SD TV quality if they still won't offer HD, although really they need to be offering HD by now. It needs to store your watchlist and offer favourites and recommendations, not overload viewers with adverts. I understand they need adverts, just don't have 4 mins of ads in each break! Surely max of 2 mins per break is enough. Also why not try to get a sponsor for the whole service. A 10 sec sponsor could be played at the start of every video, that would help with funding.

I'm looking forward to the launch of ITV Hub. I watch quite a lot of ITV programes, but if I miss stuff, I often don't bother to catch up because it means using ITV Player which can often be a pain.
noggin12,072 posts since 26 Jun 2001

I don't know how Sky on Demand works with regards to the area(s) it downloads from - I dare say there's big clusters of really high storage servers that the broadcasters like ITV and C4 add their stuff to and the Sky boxes pick it up from there. Or the option may be available as a pull or redivert for BBC material rather than duplicating everything for each platform.

My understanding is that BBC iPlayer stuff is downloaded from a Sky-managed CDN rather than from the BBC iPlayer CDN. I believe this is the case for all Sky Catch Up/On Demand services. That way Sky can manage the viewer experience - to avoid third party issues impacting on the experience of Sky customers.
London Lite6,916 posts since 4 Jan 2003
London London
ITV Player through a NOW TV box isn't the most user-friendly experience I've had with a VoD service.

Want to catch up on a previous episode of a regular series? Then you have to go to the most recent edition, play, go through numerous adverts, then when it starts, press pause, then select an episode, watch another ton of adverts and then watch the episode in the first place!
pad3,160 posts since 12 Feb 2005
I am very keenly anticipating this. I really hope it's a great new start for ITV online. If they can pull it off like they did with the recent ITV rebrand, it could be a good thing. Indeed the press release speaks about the "new brand identity for The ITV Hub which will present all of ITV's family of channels and services front and centre with a distinct, digital look and feel building off the success of ITV's rebrand."

Surely it can't be long before a public beta or even launch? They've said before the end of the year as it will coincide with Family Guy/American Dad on ITV2 - "we look forward to sharing further detail of our ambitious developments at The ITV Gala in November."

Perhaps they'll launch it properly in November at this Gala, or a public beta at this time ahead of a full transition/launch where it replaces ITV.com in the new year.
pad3,160 posts since 12 Feb 2005
Beta launched: http://beta.itv.com/itvplayer/

Video quality appears the same. Not clear if ITV Hub as it has ITV Player branding.

It's very simple whilst not being all that different - if this is the real deal ITV Hub I'm disappointed.
Last edited by pad on 12 October 2015 8:43pm - 2 times in total