IP Distribution

For the steadily growing popularity and use of Over-the-Top offerings, economically viable solutions must be found.

The IP data traffic of ARD and ZDF for streaming audio and video contributions has grown many times over in recent years. It now reaches the exabyte range. In spite of continuing falling prices, considerable costs are produced. A change in this trend cannot be foreseen due to the continuing migration of users from traditional TV to streaming services. In addition, there are HbbTV terminals, UHD displays and new immersive 360-degree productions with high quality requirements.

In order to keep the cost of the large number of widely used devices within economic limits, cross-device, interoperable coding profiles must be found that represent the best possible compromise between quality and technical reach. IRT works with end device and encoder manufacturers, as well as CDN (Content Delivery Network) and cloud providers, to provide cross-vendor, free and publicly accessible test streams in all formats. In addition, IRT is investigating possible savings potentials of alternative IP distribution options based on various caching solutions at the Internet Exchange Point (IXP) or at the Internet Service Provider (ISP) as well as with the help of new protocols (WebRTC, Google Quic, SRT) for transport. In addition to technical and economic considerations, organizational, regulatory and competitive issues are also taken into account. The focus is on open access, cross-platform use and data protection for broadcasters.

In addition, IRT continuously provides technical consulting services for the Internet distribution of broadcasting, for media libraries, for the ARD player and for ensuring interoperability with HTML5, HbbTV and apps. It also supports broadcasters in introducing new formats (1:1, 16:9) for new terminals (Apple TV 4k, Fire TV 4k, Android TV) and services (Instagram, Facebook) in the ARD format catalogue. The technical focus is on a cross-device display via MPEG-DASH and HLS, based on a common segmentation in the Common Media Application Format (CMAF) for HbbTV, mobile devices and PCs.

Multi-CDN – Player-based distribution to alternative server

IRT is testing commercial and open solutions for load balancing many simultaneous stream-calls of on-demand content. It is working on a player-based solution for the dynamic distribution of stream requests (HLS, MP4, DASH) on different alternative hosts. The aim is to provide an optional, flexible distribution to different providers of caching services in order to save overall data traffic, reduce costs in competition and increase the robustness of delivery using multiple stream sources.

The solutions developed by IRT together with DasErste, WDR and SWR will integrate seamlessly into existing streaming workflows and, where feasible, will also be combined and tested with commercial components and services available on the market. In addition, possibilities of interaction with other multi-CDN solutions, such as EBU-Flow or Cedexis, will be tested.

Argos – Measuring the quality of internet video streams

In order to guarantee a high quality of the Internet playout of the large number of audio and video contents in the media libraries, IRT develops the player-side monitoring system Argos, which can record the playback quality in the end device and monitor the correct delivery end-to-end. For example, incorrect content or problems in the transmission chain between broadcaster and subscriber are identified in order to improve the delivery quality of the video streams. Argos can be used across platforms, on smartphones, PCs and even older HbbTV televisions and enables the monitoring of all common streaming formats for live and on-demand offerings.

Argos was especially developed in accordance to the applicable data protection guidelines for Germany and Europe together with the requirements of ARD and ZDF. The collected data is already anonymized in the player before transmission to the Argos cloud service. A new random Argos session is started each time the user accesses a new content.

Argos test account

AV Streaming test portal

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In the AV streaming test portal, IRT continuously offers new audio and video streams with different media encoding profiles for PCs, smartphones, tablet PCs and HbbTV devices. A uniform interface provides progressive downloads or adaptive versions for MPEG-DASH, Apple HLS, fragmented MP4 or CMAF in different encodings (AV1, VP9, H.264, H.265, HE/AAC, E/AC3), container formats (MP4, MPEG-TS) and resolutions (SDTV, HDTV, UHD/2180p , 576i, 720p, 1080i, 1080p, 50Hz...) as well as page formats (16:9, 1:1, 9:16) and various color variants (HDR, SDR, HLG10, PQ10, SDR10) without access barriers for download and offline use.

This makes it easy for broadcasters, manufacturers, service providers and interested users to test the playback capabilities of their networked terminals with different AV encodings. All encoding parameters can be viewed and compared. The same elementary data streams for audio and video can be retrieved in different container formats individually as well as in adaptive video sets and audio sets, so that the reproduction capabilities of both transport variants can be tested on the same terminal. In addition, a selection of several web-based media players, including the ARD player used in ARD, is offered to evaluate the interoperability in the respective browser.

Special test sequences allow a simple visual check of important criteria such as safe area, frame rate, interlaced modes, time code, overscan, audio channel assignment, etc. for the present transmission chain. The streams presented here reflect, among other things, the coding specifications of the media libraries valid for ARD. Since the tests are continuously updated and the available parameter profiles exceed the capabilities of many end devices, failed playback attempts should also be regarded as test results.

The following freeware is used for encoding most test cases: GPAC MP4boxVideoLAN x264ffmpegx265DASH.js, MediaInfoBITMOVIN and video.js. On the occasion of the cooperation with GPAQ an HbbTV 1.5 compliant segmentation for MPEG-DASH in MP4box is available. For all streams created with open source software, the complete log files can be viewed and the complete executable command line can be taken. This ensures complete transparency of all test streams and unrestricted verifiability of the entire workflow.

Test portal

Your contact

Media Services & Platforms

Ralf Neudel
Division Manager

+49 89 32399-340

More information