A Solution for the FCC? Think HTML5

The industry needs to address how OTT access should evolve - Aneesh Rajaram, CEO, Vewd

A need for change

Debate is raging in the U.S. television industry over the FCC’s proposal to open set-top boxes to provide consumers with more choices—and the industry’s “Ditch the Box” proposal in response. Roku in particular has been very vocal in its criticism of both ideas but there is definitely a need for change in the ways U.S. TV consumers access content.

Many consumers are cutting the cord and relying on over-the-top (OTT) services as their primary source of entertainment. OTT services have filled some gaps in the industry to bring more choice, more content in an acceptable consumer experience. Consumption of OTT content continues to expand with 55 percent of U.K. broadband household and 51 percent in France watching TV programming and movies online, compared to 70 percent in the U.S. according to Parks Associates.

In many cases, consumers subscribe to two or three OTT services. And the number of services providing OTT content will continue to grow. The question the industry needs to address is how should OTT access evolve?

Democratiziation of content

Democratizing content access is the right move. This means unlocking set-top boxes and making OTT content more universally accessible on all devices. But contrary to the claims of one company, HTML5 will not result in bulky CPU and memory architectures. There is sufficient evidence (including within Vewd’s own deployment base of nearly 50M devices each year) to prove that HTML5 platforms make it easier for content providers and broadcasters to create once and deploy on a wide range of devices with minimum platform adaptation effort. HTML5 implementations on smart TVs, Blu-ray players and Set-top boxes have matured a great deal in the past year with further harmonization of secure and adaptive video playback taking place through active standardization efforts. The investments in HTML5 will allow an OTT service to reach the widest range of devices with the lowest total cost of ownership, while keeping OEM’s platform investments at their current levels or lower over time.

For over a decade, Vewd has worked closely with our customers and partners, from OEMs to silicon vendors to middleware companies to OTT services, to galvanise the huge scaling opportunity offered through HTML5-enabled middleware. It’s no easy task, as turnkey HTML5 platform represents the most complex and dynamic piece of code on an embedded device. However, it is a task that has been solved and deployed in massive scale, from high- to low-end devices, including on platform architectures as low as 1000 DMIPS and less than 256MB of RAM. US broadcasters shouldn’t have to limit themselves to OTT apps or interactivity through proprietary STB platforms, but instead, take cues from successful open HTML5-based standards like HbbTV in Europe where broadcasters are able to use HTML5 to provision OTT services directly on their linear TV content.

US broadcasters should […]  take cues from successful open HTML5-based standards like HbbTV

Delivery of OTT content must evolve

The delivery of OTT content must evolve. Vewd believes that consumers should have easier access to OTT content on their favourite platform, increased availability in content choice and engaging experiences on the largest screen in the home. The FCC can and should get involved in content delivery standardisation; and HTML5 has proven itself in providing consumers with the OTT content access they want, while keeping overall costs to the ecosystem at minimal levels. Let’s also not forget; there is certainly room for further innovation around open standards.