Seeing Through the Sub's Eyes

April 17, 2013
Quality of customer experience is growing in importance in the multiscreen world and will continue to do so as the industry irons out monetization plans. However, service providers can't provide or maintain good QoE if they don't have a way to monitor and measur...
Quality of customer experience is growing in importance in the multiscreen world and will continue to do so as the industry irons out monetization plans. However, service providers can't provide or maintain good QoE if they don't have a way to monitor and measure it. But just like pretty much everything else in the burgeoning TV Everywhere environment, doing so ups the ante when it comes to complexity compared to traditional video.The reason stems from the sheer number of variables that need to be taken into account when monitoring a multiscreen service, said Kirk George, IneoQuestTechnologies director of marketing. Where with linear TV only one or two models of set-top box might be involved, with multiscreen there are myriad different types of devices, not to mention brands, operating systems and protocols.Adaptive bitrate streaming makes matters even murkier, George said. One video stream goes into the encoder and comes out in several different bitrates or layers of quality that will be selected, based in part on the available bandwidth to a given device at a given time."One HBO stream goes into the encoder, and seven come out," George said. "Then these get segmented into (protocols like) Adobe, Microsoft, MPEG-DASH, Apple. Now you have 28 streams. That is just one program. With hundreds of programs ... that is a lot of bandwidth."That said, essentially the basic concept of monitoring is the same in a multiscreen environment as it is with linear TV, George said. "(Namely,) quality as well as service delivery need to be monitored where the content is altered and then where it is not altered, but is just being delivered."The difference is that the number of locations where it is altered and delivered is much greater, resulting in a need to account for various protocols and categories of devices. The good news is that technology is available to monitor all aspects of the delivery chain in a multiscreen environment, including inside the consumer device, George said. "Content and service providers can be more intelligent about how they deliver video."As for the importance of knowing the customer experience, George cited a study that indicated that consumers begin abandoning a video if they do not receive it on their device within 2 seconds."(Providers) won't know why they left," he said. "With monitoring capabilities, (they) can understand problems that are happening and stop them so (they) stop churn."Additionally, as content providers and service providers continue to work out what their relationship should be in the multiscreen world, they could benefit from being able to guarantee service level agreements (SLAs) through monitoring, George said. "Content providers don't want their brand hurt .... Service providers want to deliver content of a quality that consumers and the content providers are expecting."Monta Monaco Hernon is a free-lance writer. She can be reached at [email protected].

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