[11 March 2014]
New online platform allows deployed armed forces personnel to view British TV from anywhere in the world
Vualto, global specialists in innovative content delivery and management, is using TV Connect to showcase its new online playout solution provided to the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS), a registered charity set up to entertain and inform Britain’s Armed Forces around the world. Vualto will display the solution alongside its long-standing partner, Unified Streaming, which supported the delivery of the platform.
The new BFBS Player began live trials in February 2014, in preparation for service launch to deployed armed forces personnel, and their families, enabling them to view online content across the world. The BFBS Player brings live UK TV channels, such as BBC One, BBC Two, ITV and premium channels, plus a host of radio platforms, to forces personnel via the web and complements the existing BFBS satellite-delivered TV and radio service.
“British Forces and their families can be deployed anywhere globally,” explains Quentin Howard, director of TV and technology at BFBS. “The Vualto solution allows us to deliver round the clock entertainment to meet the needs of our users in any time zone who increasingly demand and expect TV and radio on every device.
“Our particular requirement went well beyond the usual online player solutions with specific authentication and content protection to satisfy both the rights holders and our military environment. Vualto was chosen because they understand broadcasting and have an experienced team of developers that are able to respond to our special requirements.”
The end-to-end solution from Vualto included full delivery and installation of the necessary equipment and infrastructure at the SSVC facility in Chalfont, plus the web front end and app creation and delivery. The player is currently available to access on the web, with an iOS and android version launching later this quarter.
“Vital to the delivery of the service is our PlayReady DRM solution, from Microsoft,” comments Robert Diamond, project manager at Vualto. “As one of the first companies to develop the new SDK version of the platform for android and iOS, our solution will soon allow forces personnel to view content on any device anywhere in the world.”
The player uses a ‘single sign-on’ mechanism, which is linked to the UK government’s Defence Gateway – protecting the platform, and its content, while instantly giving all armed forces personnel quick and easy access to content.
The biggest technical challenge for Vualto during the delivery of the project was ensuring delayed content was available in multiple time zones. To do this Vualto utilised the Unified Streaming Platform (USP) solution, allowing the users EPGs to be automatically updated and completely unique according to where they are located. This is achieved by synchronizing the EPG with the viewing devices time zones.
“An important aspect of Vualto’s solution for BFBS is automatic EPG and streaming adjustment corresponding to time zone, which was a customer requirement to match with delayed feeds on its satellite network,” explains Diamond. “No matter where you are in the world, you want to watch peak time viewing at peak time, and protect your children from seeing post watershed material. The player allows this to happen with automatic pre-set delays programmed for each time zone, creating entirely unique EPGs according to the viewers’ location.”
Vualto is currently working on phase two of the project, which will enable video on demand (VOD) content to be viewed on the BFBS Player, enabling the forces to watch popular programmes at their leisure. It will also provide access to online training materials and be tailored towards viewers in locations where internet access is not always available, such as HM Navy ships at sea.
The solution is on stand 176 at TV Connect 2014, taking place at the Grand Hall, Olympia, London, from 18 – 20 March 2014.