Satellite 2012: Satellite going over the top

Steve Corda (center) - VP business development participates in a panel discussion

SES’ strong synergies with cable TV distribution could open door to new opportunities.

The long defunct VCR, a hot garage sale item many years back, should have earned more respect back in its heyday in the 1980s. The brunt of countless jokes and jabs, VCRs whet the appetites of television audiences who dreamed of watching their favorite shows on their schedule. The rest is history.

DVRs have picked up where VCRs left off, forever changing the way people watch TV. Netflix and Hulu took it one step further, creating a brand new category called Over the Top or OTT. They literally went over the top, bypassing the pipe owner’s own digital TV service to deliver recent and older hit TV episodes and Hollywood movies direct to subscribers over terrestrial broadband.

“The cable operators are developing and deploying their own version of OTT-like services with some distinct advantages,” said SES’ Steve Corda, during a Satellite 2012 Conference panel titled, “Over the top or Under the Radar? Is there an Internet-streaming revolution coming to satellite services?” Corda told the conference crowd, “Cable companies are in the unique position to deliver fresh new episodes and world premiere movies to smart phones and tablets anywhere in the U.S. at the same time they are viewable on a TV within the home.”

While the unmanaged OTT providers pull their content from a storage file, cable operators can offer real-time streaming of their existing scheduled TV lineups. “This will be a key differentiator for cable that the unmanaged OTT players aren’t offering,” Corda explained during the panel presentation. “This is where satellite has an incredible opportunity to shine,” he noted. “No one does multicast better than satellite, and no one’s more familiar with the reliability and reach of satellite than the cable operators,” said Corda, who’s been busy assessing SES’ potential role and opportunity.

“We’re working with global infrastructure providers and Princeton University researchers to zero in on how satellite can be combined with existing terrestrial router solutions,” Corda explained to the group. “We are looking at both in-home and wireless applications,” he reported. “Streaming and stored video to handheld devices through cellular networks keeps rising to the top of our list of clear opportunities for satellite,” he added.

The wireless operators are updating their networks from 3G to 4G to allow for more bandwidth for a high-quality TV-like experience in the palm of your hand.   “Now that the bandwidth issue is being solved, the bottleneck is shifting to the backhaul,” said Corda. “That’s where satellite comes in to take advantage of its inherent ability to scale to a nationwide service.”

A service that combines the freedom of un-tethered content to smart handheld devices with the quality in-home viewing experience will be a real winner. “Satellite is well positioned to be the distribution platform for this powerful one-two-punch OTT offering,” Corda told conference attendees. “We’re in discussions with leading cable operators today,” he noted. “They see the same opportunities and synergies that satellite can deliver on, as they eye a potential blockbuster service.”