Next, we will explain technology
performance for live-TV streaming.
One of the bottlenecks is network
The left graph shows the total
network traffic in Japan.
The blue line represents broadband
network traffic, and the red line represents mobile network traffic. Both
traffic was increased about 40% last year.
Then, how many hours can you watch
videos on mobile devices per day?
If you have 20GB monthly mobile
rate plan, you can watch standard definition video for 1.84 hours/day.
This may not be a problem.
However, if more and more people
watch standard definition videos on mobile devices at the same time, the
network traffic may exceed the mobile network capacity. For example, if additional
1 million people watch online videos, the traffic would increase 1 thousand Gbps,
and it is 63.8% of the current total mobile traffic. If additional 2 million people
watch online videos, the traffic would increase 2 thousand Gbps, and it is more
than the current total mobile traffic.
Therefore, in addition to the increase
in network capacity, we have to develop some video distribution technologies.
The first solution is video
In these pictures, a cat is wagging
its tail. If you send whole pictures, the file size is large.
On the other hand, if you send only
the information of tail, the file size is smaller.
For the past 20 years, video
compression technology has been developed. Using the latest technology, you can
compress a video file to 1/100 (one-hundredth, 1%) of its original size.
The second solution is a content
Without a content delivery network,
you may place a video file on a single server. If many people access to the
server at the same time, the server can’t process the whole request, and users may
experience slow playback.
On the other hand, the content
delivery network will cache a copy of the content on multiple cache servers,
and users will access to the closest server. So, the amount of access to the
original server would be reduced, and users will likely experience a smoother
The third solution is adaptive
bitrate streaming. This is relatively new technology.
First, a video content is split
into small segments.
Each video segment is encoded at
multiple resolutions and stored.
Then, based on how fast the current
and previous segments are downloaded, the bitrate of the next segment is selected.
That is, depending on the speed of
the network, quality of the streamed video varies adaptively.
Then, will these solutions be
enough for Live-TV streaming? The answer is “challenging.”
For live streaming, a video content
will be compressed and delivered to the users because we can’t prepare the video
content in advance.
However, unlike the video-on-demand
distribution, every step should be processed in real time.
The content should be delivered to
the users within several seconds or several 10 seconds.
But, high compression requires more
Adaptive Bitrate Streaming is
challenging because it requires multiple bitrate videos.
In order to use a content delivery
network, videos should be placed on different servers, but it will take some
Moreover, an additional process
such as copy protection, masking unauthorized materials is also required.
So, processing speed is important.
I will mention this later again.
Now, we will mention how traditional
broadcasters trying to deal with the new emerging market, VOD and
First, all broadcasters started VOD
services. There are some free services and there are some paid services.
On the other hand, each broadcaster
has a different attitude toward live TV streaming.
Some BS and CS broadcasters will
start live TV streaming service soon. Sky Perfect TV will start by the end of
this year, and WOWOW will start in next year.
NHK want to start the live TV
streaming, but it is prohibited by the law.
For commercial terrestrial
broadcasters, there is no regulation for live TV streaming. But they hesitate
What are the problems for NHK and
commercial terrestrial broadcasters?
With governmental approval, NHK
conducted technological field experiments for live TV streaming.
Quality was not a problem, but the
delay from the terrestrial broadcasting was between 42 seconds and 52 seconds. This
was a big problem.
NHK founded that major users were
commuters. They watch live-TV streaming when they are on the train.
96% of the user satisfied the
The estimated cost was relatively
large, but it can be covered by NHK fee if the broadcasting act is changed.
So, NHK’s critical problem is regulation.
Through the technological field
experiments, NHK also found that the current procedures for getting a copyright
authorization are complicated for live-TV streaming.
On the other hand, commercial
terrestrial broadcasters have not conducted technological field experiments yet.
In addition, they also worry about
customer needs. According to the survey, more than 50% of the respondents said
that they want to use live-TV streaming service if it is free, but if they are
charged $1 per month, 60% of them said that they won’t use anymore. If they are
charged $5 per month, 90% of them said that they won’t use anymore. So, the
service should be free to attract many users.
VOD and self-recording may be enough
except for news and sports.
The cost of providing a service is
not small for local broadcasters. They have to cover the cost by sales of TV
Therefore, commercial terrestrial broadcasters
strongly oppose the law amendment for NHK. They claim that law amendment for
NHK is unfair for competition. Their real intention is local broadcasters’
operation. In addition to the huge costs, local broadcasters are afraid that local
television viewer may use key stations’ live-TV streaming service. This means
that they lose their viewer.
They also complain about copyright authorization
There are some possible policy
options to promote live-TV streaming services.
First, the government can subsidize
technological field experiments for commercial broadcasters to promote building
a common platform for commercial broadcasters.
7 years ago, commercial radio
stations solved the same problem by building a common platform “Radiko”. 91% of
Japan’s radio stations joined the platform, and they distribute various types
of terrestrial radio contents to the Internet. People can listen to area-restricted
programs for free, but if they pay some money, they can listen to all programs from
all over Japan.
Second, the government can hold meetings
to discuss the problem with broadcasting industry and copyright collecting agency
to promote simplified procedures for getting a copyright authorization.
As for regulation for NHK, the government
should consider necessary conditions and timing for deregulation.
Since NHK fee is a kind of tax,
citizen’s understanding is necessary.
In addition, we should care about
the competition between NHK and commercial broadcasters.
Since NHK group has huge internal
reserves (around 1 billion dollars), we should avoid the increase in NHK fee.
On the other hand, timing is also
important because BBC started the live-TV streaming service before London Olympics,
In 1964, Tokyo Olympics were held,
TV spread throughout Japan. For the first time in the world’s history, the Olympic
Games were broadcasted to the world via satellite.
In 2020, can we watch Tokyo Olympic
Games on our smartphone?