Unicast Video Without Breaking The Bank: Economics, Strategies, And Architecture (2008)

By S.V. Vasudevan, Xiaomei Liu, and Robert Kidd, Cisco

Driven by competition and consumer demands, linear video delivery is following a trajectory from broadcast to multicast and ultimately to unicast. Traditionally, video delivery has been broadcast only. Today, cable operators are deploying switched digital video (SDV), which uses multicast technology to improve the bandwidth efficiency of HFC networks. The next logical progression to unicast delivery is on the horizon and is positioned to become tomorrow’s video delivery mechanism. Unicast delivery of linear content is an incremental extension of the multicasting approach used in SDV implementations. The incremental investment in bandwidth resources to support unicast delivery can be offset by the contribution of preferentially valued advertising opportunities, reduced subscriber churn, and the ability to attract new subscribers through differentiated service offerings. This paper analyzes the unicast value proposition, including cost, revenue potential and return on investment. SDV field trial viewership statistics will be reviewed, and used to shed light on the cost sensitivities related to channel popularity and HD penetration. Best case and worst case scenarios for HFC bandwidth consumption will be explored and analyzed, along with the cost structures associated with each of them. Cost mitigation and revenue improvement strategies will be explored, demonstrating how cable operators can optimally combine unicast and multicast approaches in order to maximize overall return on investment. Based on the results of this analysis, a switched architecture will be presented for cable operators to smoothly migrate their networks to support unicast delivery mechanisms for linear video services. The proposed architecture accomplishes the strategies for cost-effective unicast delivery and supports:  A flexible combination of multicast and unicast delivery mechanisms  Traditional ad insertion based on geographic ad zones or a new generation of targeted ad insertion based on demographic profiles  Fast channel change and personalization of unicast content

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