Evolution of CDN services and OTT´s, a vision from Akamai.

Evolution of CDN services and OTT´s, a vision from Akamai.

An interview with Virgilio Sanz, Senior Solutions Engineer at Akamai Technologies.

> LinkedIn

How does Akamai see the future of the Media environment?

Our CEO said that we are at the beginning of a big change, if we focus on analyzing the consumption of live video on the Internet, a premium event with a large audience tends to reach a figure that is around tens or hundreds of thousands. In some specific cases, especially in some sporting events such as a top-level football match, it has been possible to reach a million or two million users. However, the same event watched by traditional television measures its viewers in millions. Therefore, there is still much to be done. Reaching the same audience level on the Internet is not only about the acceptance of this way of consuming content by users, it is also related to the technology that makes this possible. The fact is that the internet is not really intended for video, its structure has more to do with other forms of communication such as e-mail. There are many things that are happening and will change everything in the upcoming years.

What can architectures like P2P bring to all this change?

P2P is a well known protocol that brings many advantages. It has a bad reputation because it has been widely used in the distribution of pirated content, and this has been so because it does not need the content to be hosted on servers for distribution, but it is dispersed among different pairs that communicate with each other. It is a very suitable technology to make video live in an OTT environment. That´s why OTTs are structured as video clubs, so there will never be many people consuming the same content, while one user is in the 5th minute a movie, another is in the 20th minute of a series. And this is different from having many people watching the same content in real-time. It’s not just about the video being transported in high quality, it’s about this happening as quickly as possible so there’s no latency, and that’s not easy to achieve. At Akamai, we are putting a lot of effort into resolving this issue and we are very close to being able to guarantee a delay similar to that of a satellite or DTT, the complexity is in using networks without getting saturated so that the video can flow normally. According to our CEO, in the next two years we are going to witness the expansion of OTTs, which are going to stop being just VOD platforms and also offer linear channels, they are going to become much more complete platforms.

Will they also offer sports content?

Probably, although in this environment more things needs to be taken into account. There are many times that people in the video environment put all their effort and knowledge to make the video flow, but they don’t apply as much time and knowledge to the web that is in charge of managing it, and when users want to buy the game or event, the gateway falls. This is a recurrent occurrence and needs to be seen as a whole. If we take a short look, we see that there is a lot of evolution pending for the next few years, there are other markets where all the fashionable concepts such as Big Data, IoT, VR, etc. are like a bottle of champagne because many of them are marketing phenomena. But that doesn’t happen so much in the Media sector, here the evolution is constant but slower, and that’s a great advantage because it allows the operational and business models to settle much better.

And this is something that also affects the entire value chain.

Exactly, it affects the entire value chain and that’s why these changes are so slow. If we take into account everything that happens since a camera captures an image, we realize that there are many processes through which a content passes until it is consumed by a viewer, and each of them has its particularities. In addition, we will have many different devices at the end and each content will find its own. There will not be a winner above the rest, but it will depend on what you want to consume, with whom you want to consume and when. It’s not the same if a person wants to see something alone in bed, where a smartphone or tablet is the ideal device, as sharing a football game with friends. What is clear is that more and more people want to decide what they see. That’s why VOD keeps growing year after year and will continue to do so, we want to choose what we see above all else.

Telecoms operators are also joining this trend to round off their Internet offerings…

Exactly, there’s actually a “war” going on over the remote control. When an operator enters a home with its broadband and television offer, the remote control becomes theirs, so that they control a large part of the audio-visual consumption in that place. The weapon that the traditional TV channels in Europe have to fight against this is probably the HbbTV, with which they could try to recover control by offering additional tools. To date, HbbTV has been used by traditional channels to generate VOD with their own content, such as an OTT but through television. This is because they are obliged to have some application with this technology when they are awarded a license, but they are not taking advantage of the real potential of this technology. The red button enables a layer of interactivity on the TV that doesn’t have to be invasive, it can enable additional applications but you have to bet on them and develop them. Offer, for example, additional information about the contents offered, e-marketing, statistics, etc.

Are televisions understanding the change brought about by the Internet?

I’ve been working in media for a long time and not just on video, I’ve worked in traditional newspapers, online print media, a big TV and now Akamai, so I have a good view of what’s happened and what’s happening now. In my opinion, television sets are at the same point in time as newspapers were 10 years ago. What they are doing is trying to maintain their current position in the market, although that is not easy. There is less audience on the internet today, by far, so that advertising is sold cheaper and does not compensate them. But you have to consider what would happen if they had the same audience or even more than through their traditional channel, then the scenario would be different. They must bet on it and work hard to achieve it.

How can Akamai help with that?

There are things you can do from a CDN environment like Akamai. The transmission costs of a traditional television are fixed, that is to say, you pay the same for an audience of 100,000 people as for another one of 50,000,000, and that is something that does not happen on the Internet today, the cost of the service goes parallel to the level of audience you have, and that is something we have to contemplate in another way. Because a media is not an E-Commerce, i. e. more traffic does not necessarily mean more sales, it is another type of business. In fact, there is one peculiarity: if a programme broadcast over the Internet has a much larger audience than you thought, the operational costs of broadcasting will increase a lot. That’s why we at Akamai are investigating how to offer CDN flat rate service focused primarily on live events. For this type of approach, P2P is a great ally that also works best the more audience there is. The downside of peer-to-peer is that for live video it means generating a lot of latency, because you have to find in the different pairs the content you need. We’ve tested live football matches, with a lot of recurring users, and it looks great, but with latencies that go up to three minutes. This is where we are focusing our research, because it is not the same only P2P as the fact that there is a CDN behind it, helping everything go better, providing the necessary blocks to complete the data and the pairs that are being collected. That’s where the complication is.

How will consumption in OTT evolve?

In the specific case of OTTs we can see that the series are successful but there is not so much consumption of films however. Both Netflix and HBO, for example, are platforms that are very successful thanks to the series. This is because of a pure and hard marketing theme. Movies really do have promotion when they are in billboard, the series have a longer life though. When a movie is no longer on the screen, it seems that it disappears and falls into oblivion, so the movie that is in the mind of the user is the one that has just been released and is on the screen, which will not be on the Internet until 4 months later. This is why the VOD grows mainly on the basis of series. Platforms actually have a lot more content than that but it’s not always easy to find. A revolution similar to the one that music has already passed must occur. Consumption models that really make everything sustainable. Spotify for example, where you have everything from very old music to the latest album of a current band. Many times there are films that are not on any platform because you don’t know if you are going to make money with it, for example old films, but the truth is that they have their own audience.

Akamai is the global leader in Content Delivery Network (CDN) services, making the Internet fast, reliable and secure for its customers. The company’s advanced web performance, mobile performance, cloud security and media delivery solutions are revolutionizing how businesses optimize consumer, enterprise and entertainment experiences for any device, anywhere.


Epic Labs, proud member of the DASH Industry Forum and the Digital Production Partnership, is a software engineering center that helps companies to innovate in Media, offering advanced video solutions and several collaboration proposals in digital transformation.

Epic Labs joins DPP (Digital Production Partnership)

The DPP is a Membership-based, not-for-profit organization, founded by ITV, BBC and Channel 4.

Epic Labs, a software innovation center focused on the Media space and proud member of DASH-IF, is pleased to announce that has recently joined the Digital Production Partnership. DPP was created by ITV, BBC and Channel 4 to represent Media companies across the entire value chain. DPP is committed to a globalized content creation and exchange market thanks to the Internet and innovation processes.

Epic Labs offers Media Engineering services such as real-time video experiences, streaming solutions, consultancy and expertise on CDN solutions, cloud architectures, and also co-engineering and co-creation services. In addition, Epic Labs provides extensive knowledge of Artificial Intelligence applied to the Media industry.

Alfonso Peletier, CEO and Founder de Epic Labs said, “We have found in DPP an organization that brings real value by including key players across the entire value chain of the media landscape, both the more traditional and the most innovative companies. It is the perfect setting for a company like Epic Labs whose value proposal can be consumed by both parties. It is also a framework in which to provide our knowledge of Artificial Intelligence applied to this particular market”.

“The DPP is delighted to have Epic Labs as a Member company,” said DPP Managing Director, Mark Harrison. “The DPP brings together companies from across the media supply chain who are committed to driving change and developing new opportunities. Epic Labs, with their proven track record in innovation, will be of huge interest to many companies in our network.”


Note to editors:

Epic Labs, proud member of the DASH Industry Forum and the Digital Production Partnership, is a software engineering center that helps companies to innovate in Media, offering advanced video solutions and several collaboration proposals in digital transformation.    

4K/UHD HDR Summit 2017 Málaga HIGHLIGHTS

The 4K Summit was recently held at its new location in Málaga, making the Spanish city the center of the Ultra High Definition Worldwide. This third edition was attended by a total of 300 professional visitors from 22 different countries and over 90 companies represented in total, including Epic Labs. At Epic Labs, as an Innovation and Knowledge Center, we want to offer our vision and headlines of this growing event.
IP Broadband vs. Traditional Broadcast
In the early stages of the event we already found one of the main topics nowadays in our industry: Traditional Broadcast (i.e. Satellite, terrestrial) vs. IP Broadband. Luis Miguel Gilpérez, President of Telefónica, pointed out that video is at the core of their strategy given that Telefónica’s main focus is set on fiber optics, bringing massive broadband to all households. In the case of Spain, 75% of the population has access to this technology used to deliver for high-speed Internet allowing for and additional entertainment offer. Telefónica’s goal is to continue differentiating through the variety and exclusivity of its audiovisual content, and also through the user experience.
With regards to its Fusion product (IP broadband, mobile and content bundle), Gilpérez provided several interesting data: 64% of customers consume content through VOD, the smartphone is the most used device with a penetration of 52%. With respect to 4K, Telefónica wants to promote this technology and will therefore release set- top-boxes suitable for this resolution on the second quarter of 2018.
Michel Chabrol, Director Marketing Innovation from Eutelsat, provided further insights to Traditional Broadcast and IP Broadband. Chabrol commented that there are currently about 100 channels active in 4K/UHD worldwide, many of them offering experimental content. 41 of them are being distributed via satellite while 56 leverage cable or IPTV platforms, and only two of them are distributed via terrestrial television. This shows that both, terrestrial and satellite television, are clearly threatened by the growth of IP broadband in households. As a result of this, Eutelsat are looking for alternative markets. Michel Chabrol presented in Málaga a project towards the luxury hotel sector, to distribute premium content in 4K.

Market perspective
Peter Gray from IHS Markit presented a market study on the state of 4K/UHD penetration in homes. Gray revealed that China is the country in which more 4K television sets are being sold and where it seems to be a greater interest in this technology, they are indeed opting for larger screens. In China, 66% of the television set sales have a screen larger than 40”. USA holds the second position and below Western Europe. In that sense, there is a clear gap between the countries that are producing lot of 4K/UHD contents and those that are consuming the most. Europe has 32 channels, USA has 13, APAC has 10 and Japan 5. Regarding 8K, China and Japan are the ones where there is more interest in the consumption of a resolution like an “IMAX at home” as Gray himself defined.

One of the main speakers, Carlos Fontanot’s, Imagery Manager ISS at NASA, attended the 4K Summit through a live video conference from the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The ISS is permanently generating audiovisual content, more than 3.5 million photos and thousands of hours of video through 6 HD channels are generated each year. The ISS is like a small production area that flies at an altitude of 400,000 meters and at a speed of 28,000 kilometers per hour. They have different types of cameras for this purpose, from the small GoPro Hero 3 to a Red Epic Dragon. Transmission to Earth is made via Ku Band at a bit rate of 300 Mbps, the 4K signal is encoded in four HD-SDI 1080P outputs. NASA has a 24/7 4K channel to broadcast this type of material and it was in the past that NAB of Las Vegas was the first 4K live broadcast from the ISS.

Olympic Games
Winter Olympic Games are being held in 2018 and two years later it is Tokyo’s turn, where it is expected that substantial changes will be introduced in the workflows and the technologies used, there is really a lot of expectation generated. There where two very interesting panels at Málaga focused on that; first, Peter Hutton, CEO of Eurosport, explained the vision and commitment of this channel on Pyeongchang 2018. The platform will be betting on live VOD coverage through Eurosport Player, a multi-device OTT service where viewers will be able to follow instantly everything that happens. It is estimated that the coverage will provide about 4,000 hours of content being 900 of them broadcasted live.

And then, Guillermo Pérez, Engineering Director at OBS, focused on the implementation of 4K, something that is already in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) roadmap in the medium term. OBS will continue producing the main events in HD because the quality of the final product cannot be compromised, UHD is not mature enough yet to replace HD in live productions. However, he did confirm that by Tokyo 2020 they are working hand in hand with the Japanese NHK to achieve a greater implementation of 4K, this will be possible given the better management of UHD signals that leverage IP technology and, therefore, this resolution will have more  prominent. Guillermo Pérez said also that it is essential to offer customers as many formats as possible with the utmost security.

There are several attempts to normalize the correct deployment of the UHD, a good example of this are associations such as the UHD Alliance. At the 4K Summit, they set out the need for agreement on what kind of standards to use and recommend to deliver master contents always in 3840×2160 resolution at 10 Bit, using BT. 2020 and ST2084 EOTFF for HDR as color space.
Regarding the situation of broadcasters, Massimo Bertolotti, Director of Innovation and Multimedia Distribution at Sky Italia commented that the UHD cannot remain only in an improvement of the resolution, but it is essential to offer a better user experience and that is where the HDR along with the IP have a very important role. For Bertolotti it is not necessary to bear in mind that many of the televisions with 4K capacity that are currently being bought do not have enough bits to incorporate HDR, that´s why SKY decided to work with HDR HLG asit does not require a higher bitrate as other options and has, therefore, good levels of compatibility.  They are also testing virtual reality experiences through Sky VR, an application available in all countries where the platform operates.

NHK and their 8K roadmap
There is no doubt that one of the most awaited presentations was that NHK offered through its Producer for the Global Content Development Division Hidenobu Miyazaki, in Málaga we were able to enjoy several demonstrations of the work being done by the Japanese broadcaster in both 4K and 8K. With Tokyo 2020 in mind, Miyazaki revealed that at the end of 2018 they want to broadcast eighteen hours of content per day in 4K and twelve hours of content in 8K on a sustained basis. He also clarified that for current productions are using RED cameras as an element of capture. And finally, NHK is working on building an 8K mobile unit next year that will record content in different countries.

There was also time to talk about over the top television. In a panel discussion involving Amagi, Movistar and Akamai. Although, this roundtable focused on the user experience. Several of the problems that are established in this environment discussed such as the improvement of the distribution of live content, and opting for a business model that can be sustainable for all and not just for a few. Leaving as a conclusion that the on-demand content is experiencing a very strong growth in recent years and continues to accelerate.

A new version of dash.js reference client has been released (2.6.3)

Epic Labs is pleased to announce that version 2.6.3 of dash.js reference client has been released.

This new version comes with some stability enhancements. Changes are mainly related with improvements in the management of multi period streams and in the Adaptive Bitrate Algorithm (ABR), apart from general fixes focused on increasing the robustness of the client.

This new version also comes with enhancements related with DRM management, which is supported through browser’s Encrypted Media Extensions. Most of the work in this has area been focused on implementing new features and fixes related with PlayReady support.

What is coming

For next versions of dash.js we are mainly working in the following areas:

  • Smarter Buffer Management. A dash.js stream is composed by small chunks that need to be fetched, cached and decoded smartly in order to use browser resources (bandwidth, memory, CPU) efficiently.
  • Continuous Integration. We want to reduce the time that takes going from development to release. For achieving that, one of our main goals is setting up new procedures that will ensure this won’t impact on quality or stability of dash.js releases.
  • New features. More and more features are defined by DASH IF IOP and dash.js will continue being the reference client for them. In the coming releases we will add support for Thumbnails & MPD Chaining to dash.js.

Jesús Oliva, Founder & Media Lead Architect at Epic Labs: “We are launching a new version of dash.js every month, always ensuring each release reach the high quality level required for a project that is used daily by millions of users. Part of the work that we are doing is focused on reducing the time that takes putting in production new changes. In addition to our enhancements in the number of unit tests we are implementing automated functional tests that will evaluate the player as if it were a person using it. Everything with the goal of having a real continuous release environment”.

Epic Labs is member of the DASH Industry Forum.

Stable GPU TensorFlow 1.3 environment. By Ignacio Peletier

Using GPUs for training machine learning applications can speed operations up to 40 times faster than using a common CPU. In this video a stable environment for using TensorFlow 1.3 with CUDA is presented and a simple script is given so we can assure we are using our GPU!

Cuda 8.0 → http://docs.nvidia.com/cuda/cuda-installation-guide-linux/#axzz4VZnqTJ2A
cuDNN 6.0 → https://developer.nvidia.com/cudnn (requires sign up)
Tensorflow 1.3 → https://www.tensorflow.org/

Pip and virtualenv:

sudo apt-get install python-pip python-dev build-essential
sudo pip install --upgrade pip
sudo pip install --upgrade virtualenv

Create virtual enviroment´s directory:

mkdir my_envs && cd my_envs

Create virtualenv:

virtualenv env

Activate virtualenv:

source env/bin/activate

Installing tensorflow-gpu:

pip install tensorflow-gpu #pip≥8.1

Running the script:

python tutorial.py

keep learning with Epic Academy

DASH-IF, an interview with Marcelo Manta from Accenture

The importance of DASH-IF

An interview with Marcelo Manta, Senior Manager at Accenture


What ́s the importance of the DASH-IF nowadays?

The DASH Industry Forum has a vital task: to create a reference version that helps in the correct implementation of the DASH player. Going back in time we can nd similar experiences led the appearance of different streaming standards such as Apple ́s HLS, which is now used by a majority, or even Microsoft’s one, which is still used by some platforms. The bottom line is that it is not good to have several standards, if only for one operational issue.

That ́s why there is a great interest in the steps being taken by DASH-IF, indeed, Apple is suggesting that it will support this initiative even if there is not yet an official communication. And let’s not forget that Google already uses DASH and they control the most used system in mobile devices, which is Android, next to the most used browser, which is Chrome. I think this is something that will come. When it is a question of setting standards, compatibility issues are often encountered because a standard is never so accurate that it can be seamlessly integrated from its inception. The most interesting thing about this case is that it will create a reference implementation, which does not have to be the one that someone will use in the end, but it will guarantee a minimum and will facilitate integration and compatibility. I have been involved in the past in some standardizations and I can say that it is very important to take this path.

And what about HLS? Are we going to some kind of standards warfare?

Nowadays what we find is that HLS users are recognizing that DASH is an improvement yet HLS has a bigger market penetration. This are generating questions about whether migrating to DASH and analyzing what this new standard offers, such as better support from Google or a single framework. For its part, HLS is working to implement some things in a clearer way than DASH, so it is important as I said at the beginning to have a reference implementation that helps de ne how all this can be clari ed and tackle those functionalities that are not so clear today. As an example, we worked with Epic Labs on an Ad Insertion project on DASH, and we realized it was something that could be better implemented in the player. Now we are really starting to de ne all this better, and therefore, the player is improving remarkably. There are opinions that DASH are not mature yet, but the way it’s being implemented makes the project move forward faster and safer now.

What’s it necessary to definitely push all this?

In my opinion, the key thing is going to be the support from the different devices. Today, DASH is more and more supported, so there will come a time when Google or some similar company will begin to deprecate HLS, that’s when the deployment will be already massive and probably generate some runaway from other standards.

We live in an intense moment in the Media environment, do you think it would help if there was only one player?

I think that’s really very difficult, in fact it’s not recommended that there should be a single implementation because we have many different devices with very particular characteristics, each one has its own hardware underneath like mobile phones, Smart-TV, video game consoles, etc. This makes it not possible to have a player that is unique, it helps very much as I have said that there is a reference implementation, which in fact is what at the time got HLS, but we must bear in mind that it had problems in the past and was not as debugged as now. Indeed, there is another similar problem in this industry with H. 264 and H. 265/HEVC. When MPEG2 was used everyone decided to implement H. 264 because it was a big improvement, now that H. 265 we are risking not to continue in a single standard due to patents, this generates a lot of noise and a slower migration.

What steps should DASH-IF take and what mistakes should they avoid?

To be honest, I think they’re doing everything they have to do. One thing, which is very important, is to carry out interoperability tests be- tween equipment. In this sense, it is very necessary that the different actors meet and check how the different components, systems, workflows, etc. work. It’s not just about the encoder and player fitting, but there are many more elements involved that need to be checked. The CDNs are incorporating more technology so it’s not just proving that the end-to-end chain works, but testing things as if it’s operational with the new peer to peer functionality Akamai recently announced, to give an example, and see how it affects DASH.

What vision does Accenture have of all this impact on the market?

The video ecosystem is changing from a broadcast world, in the one-to-many sen- se, to another that is unicast, namely one-to-one. This is a trend that is accelerating and its migrating from one side to the other. In this process, there are cases that are very interesting. We have a large customer that has been monetizing its OTT proposal a lot. It is a typical broadcaster, with central headquarters and different channels in various locations, each with its own direction and organizational layer. In this type of channels, what happens is that the team that makes online video does not usually have a consistent entity, are not as important as other pro- les of the company. What this client has done is to change that paradigm, it gave the Internet team the same entity as a traditional channel, with the same level of importance and reporting. Once this is done, that channel has started to make a lot of revenue through online advertising. We have to be aware that online advertising can make a lot of money. In his country, that channel has become the volume leader above YouTube in terms of internet advertising.

This example is not common, indeed when you ask to a traditional broadcaster how they have organized this, you nd that the internet department is not as important as the rest of the people who work in the channel, they are usually a cross-fusion of the IT department that takes care of it, but it is not usually a business unit that is looked at with respect. But, as I said before, it is a very good example of where the industry is going and what direction broadcasters should be moving in. In addition, you have to keep in mind that if they are not willing to make these moves, there are companies that are willing to do so and one of them is Google.


Accenture provides unmatched services in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. The company partner with more than three-quarters of the Fortune Global 500, driving innovation to improve the way the world works and lives.+

The DASH Industry Forum (DASH-IF) establishes interoperability guidelines on the usage of the MPEG-DASH streaming standard. MPEG- DASH simpli es and converges the delivery of IP video, to provide a rich and enjoyable user experience, to help drive down costs and ultimately to enable a better content catalogue to be offered to consumers.

Epic Labs, proud member of the DASH Industry Forum, is a software engineering center that helps companies to innovate in Media, offering advanced video solutions and several collaboration proposals in digital transformation.