Delivering Live TV services to maritime operators without breaking the bank...

Live 7
By:

Razan Samandar

11 Jul 2022

Live TV services have a major role to play in the onboard entertainment services for most maritime operators. Whether it be watching live sports around the pool, enjoying a live concert or just keeping up to speed on the latest and greatest news, real time viewing keeps passengers connected whilst they unwind. 

A lingering concern from many cruise operators however is the escalating and often unknown costs associated with receiving and streaming live services on board.  

Traditionally cruise operators depended on TVRO to deliver Live TV. This approach comes with certain channel delivery limitations and high costs, as a result of needing to install two antennas in order to receive the desired channels. We tackled this subject in our previous article VSAT or TVRO for onboard TV delivery so check it out for more information. 

There are two main options to deliver Live TV at sea: 
  1. Utilizing an existing TVRO antenna along with VSAT in order to deliver an unlimited number of high-quality channels onboard. This approach allows operators to change the channel line-up without needing to change the onboard infrastructure.  

  1. Implementing a playout server to bring Live-like channels that are refreshed automatically via VSAT/ Mobile internet.  

Let’s dive more into the practicality of both options... 
  1.  VSAT delivery 

The MAXICASTER streaming server is designed to only send channels once to the vessel. Utilizing the latest compression and error correction technology this approach offers significant savings in terms of the required bandwidth capacity as well as providing the flexibility to stream channels either directly to passengers over an IP network or modulated to RF to existing TVs where no IP network is available.  

As the need for onboard connectivity increases, so do the technologies available to deliver connectivity in an increasingly efficient manner. Satellite bandwidth, up until recently an unrealistic proposition from a cost perspective has become increasingly commoditized with the availability of new orbits, high-throughput signals, and multiple bands.  

The table below provides an indication of bandwidth requirements for Live TV channel delivery for different content types and bitrates;  

Channel bitrate

 

  1. Playout delivery via IP network  

Playout delivery offers an alternate approach to Live TV delivery. Playout channels allows content files to be delivered automatically via an IP network to the playout server. File transfers can be adjusted depending on the internet traffic, for example, during the night the system will automatically download the required content and stop automatically when the download window has ended.  

A single playout server can stream multiple channels allowing cruise operators to extend the content offering onboard – including creating their own curated channels.  

Importantly, this approach can be deployed without changes to the existing onboard network (either IP or RF) and leveraging existing TVs.  

How about the actual live TV content? 

Catering for the on-board audience and ensuring relevance is particularly important when it comes to offering a Live TV service. Offering sufficient country or regional coverage based on the passenger demographic can make or break a service. TV channels can be delivered as either live channel (as referred to above) as well as server-based channels. Anuvu's MTN TV channel capability covers both options as well as ensuring country and regionally specific are covered – even when a vessel is travelling between regions. When combined with their extensive VoD catalogue this becomes an ideal complement to the MAXICASTER solution approach.  

Live TV offers an exciting way to keep passengers entertained and informed while they are enjoying the cruise experience. Increasingly services can be delivered in a cost-effective manner removing the traditional barriers. 

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