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Microsoft Makes A Play For Broadcasters

8 Apr, 2002 By: Hive News

In an apparent bid to get broadcasters more interested in Microsoft's Windows Media technology, the company joined All Mobile Video (AMV) and Optibase Inc. at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention, to demonstrate technology Microsoft claims can save money for television broadcasters.

All Mobile Video, based in New York, with facilities in St. Petersburg, Fla., and San Diego, Calif., is a broadcast production company with clients including the major television and cable networks, as well as the major syndication companies such as Columbia Tristar Television, Telepictures and Paramount Pictures.

"Our focus is to provide premier production services to the entertainment and broadcast community,'' said Richard Duke, VP of All Mobile Video. "We see the dramatic compression innovations in Windows Media Video are now offering us huge opportunities to reduce our costs by as much as 50 percent with new forms of distribution – without sacrificing the video quality our clients demand.''

AMV will demonstrate how a backhaul video distribution solution using IP networks can enable more cost-effective delivery of broadcast-quality video to clients. Duke added, ``The model Windows Media Video distribution solution we are demonstrating at NAB2002 offers us a huge competitive advantage, and we expect it to provide significant savings over the cost of today's MPEG2 distribution over existing fiber networks.''

Transporting video has traditionally been an expensive issue for content distributors. Moving video from one location to another has commonly meant either shipping tapes overnight or using a video backhaul. The process of renting expensive fiber networks and/or satellite time for transmission can cost thousands of dollars per hour in connection fees, to say nothing of hardware costs.

Microsoft execs claim IP-based delivery using Microsoft Windows Media makes it possible to deliver broadcast-quality video over simple broadband networks, lower traditional television broadcast transmission costs and use readily available lower-cost PC-based hardware.

The sysem works by taking a live normal broadcast feed, sending it to a Windows Media encoder configured with an Optibase video pump, sending the encoded feed to a server, then broadcasting across an IP network to a decoder PC. The signal is then output via the Serial Digital output of the Optibase Video Pump card.

Because it can be built on top of modern PC architecture, Windows Media-based backhaul reduces equipment costs while offering optimal flexibility and reliability, according to Microsoft.

The added security of Windows Media Digital Rights Management allows the distributor to set business rules for who can view and transcode content while protecting feeds from ``sky pirates'' who seek to hijack video transmissions from the satellite feed, the spokesperson said.

"This demonstration is a dramatic example of how advances in video compression can dramatically improve the economics of even TV content distribution,'' said Dave Fester GM of the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft. "Our R&D investments in audio and video codecs are now enabling Windows Media to extend beyond just distribution of media over the Web into the broadcast world.''

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