LAKE OSWEGO, ORE. – Consumers might soon be able to view all of their subscription-TV content, including video-on-demand content, on multiple TVs in the home without renting additional set-top boxes, thanks to smart TVs and set-top boxes equipped with wireless VidiPath technology, the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) said.
The standards organization expects the first VidiPathcertified CE products to become available to consumers late in the first quarter.
The Wi-Fi-based technology also delivers a home’s subscription-TV content to VidiPath-equipped tablets, smartphones, game consoles, PCs and Blu-ray players within Wi-Fi range.
The group didn’t say which types of products would appear first or whether set-top boxes would be among the first, but cable-TV providers Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications have said they plan to offer VidiPath set-top boxes or gateways.
Development was led by DLNA, the three service providers, and Sony, Samsung and Broadcom, the organization said.
“With the addition of VidiPath, DLNA has expanded its ecosystem to include the secure delivery of subscription- TV content,” DLNA executive director Donna Moore said. Service providers and CE manufacturers “are working together to enable the full subscription- TV viewing experience and user interface across all VidiPath-certified devices.” Small-screen devices will access a service-provider UI designed for a smaller display that retains a similar look and feel as the provider’s TV-screen UI, the group said.
A DLNA white paper noted that “only a portion of traditional subscription-TV content is available from Internet sources,” and on mobile devices, users have to download multiple apps to a device to access much of the available subscription-TV content.
A single Vidipath-equipped set-top box from a cable, satellite or telco TV-service provider will stream all service-provider content in 1080p HD over Wi-Fi to VidiPath-equipped devices within Wi-Fi range. The provider’s channel guides would also appear in a consistent way across all VidiPath devices.
Vidipath does not enable the transmission of all settop- box content to phones, tablets and computers in remote locations, but the specification can be extended to support this scenario in the future,” said Amol Bhagwat, DLNA VP and vice chairman and secretary of the DLNA board of directors.
With VidiPath, consumers will free up furniture space by eliminating the need for a set-top box with every TV, and subscribers will be able to use their TV remote to access content instead of using a service provider’s remote. VidiPath will also simplify multiroom installations by eliminating coaxial-cable runs. Consumers also won’t have to download proprietary service- provider applications on different mobile devices or download one of many over-the-top (OTT) applications, DLNA said.
CE makers will get a single standard compatible with multiple service providers’ set-top boxes, the group said. That will reduce product-development costs by reducing the need to develop and maintain an application for each service provider.
For their part, service providers will be able to deliver content to multiple devices in a home with FullHD 1080p quality, a consistent user experience, and content protection without deploying additional set-top boxes for TVs or developing and managing multiple applications for subscribers’ iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices, the group said.
Work is underway to add 4K streaming to the standard by the second quarter.
Service providers will also be able to use their existing infrastructure, such as cable QAM or satellite infrastructure, to deliver content to smartphones and tablets in the home, conserving broadband bandwidth, Bhagwat added.
The technology also provides remote-diagnostics capabilities to service providers, and it protects “the rights of content providers through authentication and protected streaming in the home,” DLNA said.
VidiPath will help service providers compete with OTT services in part by offering higher definition video compared to OTT services, the group contended.
Though service providers collect monthly fees for renting out settop boxes, Bhagwat noted, “they realize that their customers want content on any device in any room. Providing that choice to customers has become part of the competitive necessity and also helps create customer retention.”
VidiPath will help retain subscribers in part by enabling them to stream all subscription-TV content to mobile devices in the home, whereas service providers’ current mobile-device apps, which stream via the Internet, don’t deliver all channels. The content will be accessed through the mobile device’s native media player, providing a one-stop location for all multimedia content, DLNA said.
For mobile devices lacking Vidipath, service providers or device manufacturers could offer a VidiPath app to receive Vidipath content, said Bhagwat.
Mobile-device makers, along with game-console and PC makers, will also cut product development and testing costs by adopting a single standard, the group said.
At least service providers are on board.
“We have been working closely with DLNA members on the VidiPath rollout, and when certified products hit retail shelves, we will be ready to deliver content to them throughout our service footprint,” said Matt Zelesko, senior VP of Time Warner Cable’s converged technology group.
For his part, Steve Necessary, Cox’s video product and strategy VP, said his company “will be releasing our next upgrade of VidiPath capabilities by the second quarter of 2015.”
And Kenneth Klaer, Comcast’s premise technologies senior VP, said his company “is working closely with consumer electronics manufacturers to roll out services that can be enjoyed on a broad range of VidiPath- certified products as they become available.”