Why Nothing Can Stop MPEG-DASH

1st Jun 2017

Over the last year, MPEG-DASH has been busy, quietly (and rapidly) growing in Europe, and this is down to several reasons, not least because of the push that DASH is receiving from the broadcasting industry in terms of the basis for the International Organisation for Standardisation Base Media File Format (ISO-BMFF). The forthcoming ATSC 3.0 specification uses DASH for broadcast delivery, broadband and the (now-finalised) Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV), which is big in almost every European country.

With DASH also powering innovation in UHD and VR on many devices, growth looks set to continue.

UHD delivery with DASH

Another area where DASH is demonstrating its strength is in UHD delivery, where DASH has begun flexing its muscles in France’s Canal Plus. The broadcasters have started to use DASH for catch-up TV, feeding top-boxes with 4K DASH in HEVC. Phillipe Rambourg, head engineering manager for Canal Plus, said, ‘We are using the ‘isoff-on-demand:2011’ DASH profile with HEVC. I don’t see which other format we could have used to reach our goal.’ Continuing his thoughts about delivery on operators’ set-top boxes, he said, ‘Generally speaking, I think that progressive download delivery will be abandoned by a majority of operators with their next generation of set-top boxes, and replaced by OTT formats like DASH, even on managed networks.

OTT and DASH

DASH is also gaining ground in OTT technologies, with Flash’s future uncertain. Sebastien Faure, of France’s Molotov TV, explains, ‘Molotov is by essence a multiscreen project, so it was clear since the beginning that we would have to combine several ABR formats and DRM stacks. Starting from this assumption, we didn’t have reasons to restrict our ABR/DRM combinations choice in order to provide the best possible experience on any device. There was no way for us to launch the service with a Silverlight player, and we knew since 2015 that Flash’s future was voided, so we had only two remaining choices: HLS and DASH, but as DRMs were mandatory for our project, we foresaw a complex implementation and support path if we took the HLS path. So, the only realistic ABR/DRM combo was DASH with Widevine, which was also efficient to cover Android devices.

It appears that DASH is unstoppable, with major contributors to the MPEG-DASH standard reiterating royalty-free positions on the DASH-IF website. It will be interesting to continue to monitor the position, considering the MPEG-LA DASH patent pool announcement, and the legal implications of use.

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