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NDS takes strain for App developers targeting pay TV

NDS says that it has solved the problem that pay TV operators are already experiencing, of trying to prepare video so that it can be played on a multi

By PETER WHITE

Published: 10 March, 2011

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NDS says that it has solved the problem that pay TV operators are already experiencing, of trying to prepare video so that it can be played on a multitude of different devices.

With something like 200 Tablets due out in the next 6 months and already 100s of smart phones, each with different resolutions and video capability, the old way of dealing with this, when video downloads were the order of the day, of holding a database of hundreds of different video capabilities, is no longer possible for most Pay TV operators, to maintain.

Back then companies like Harmonic’s Rhozet changed hands for decent amounts of money because they solved that very problem, but with the emergence of adaptive streaming, this issue has gone up in complexity.

The NDS answer has been to create its own Service Delivery Platform (SDP) with multiple elements, such as different transcoders and content management systems and which keep track of the device abstraction rules and pushed out new APIs, which give developers working on those platform access to Pay TV content and metadata to write into their apps.

It’s a novel approach because mostly companies are hard wiring all of that into a server side application and the app developer has to live with it. NDS says that it showed this to operator personnel at CES quietly and had a great reaction, and now it will go to a closed Alpha test with key developers and then to a beta test with some European pay TV operators.

One of the benefits built into the Service Delivery Platform is the concept of domain linking of devices, so that the SDP knows which portable devices are allowed to see which TV content, delivering it Over The Top to applications instead of from the set top. So each family has a cluster of devices, in the manner that modern DRM platforms are build, and NDS even has a version of its conditional access system Videoguard called Videoguard Connect that it would like to sell with this, a software only implementation to keep commercial content as safe as it can.

But within this, data from the set top shows the SDP which TV channel the home TV set is watching, and can synchronize the viewing with the tablet, “For instance if there is a breaking news event like an Earthquake or bombing on the TV, the tablet would be aware of what TV channel you are watching and a news app might bring up more news from other sources about the same event,” said Nigel Smith, chief marketing officer for NDS.

This means that app developers can focus on writing apps, not providing core services about the content, and that can be left to the NDS SDP. Similarly the operator doesn’t have to become an expert in portable device platforms, it can allow NDS to expose a series of APIs and let the device app fix onto that.

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