Perhaps no other trend is doing more to shape today’s media landscape than multiplatform content delivery, driven by the explosion in mobile devices and consumers’ growing and insatiable appetite for content they can access “anytime and anywhere.” Broadcasting operations that were designed for traditional, linear transmissions are becoming much more complex, with many more elements being added to the transmission chain and the requirement to deliver every possible transport stream — satellite, cable, free to air, Web streaming, and delivery to different platforms including 4G mobile devices. Troubleshooting transmission problems has never been more critical or more time-consuming.
As broadcasters and content providers grapple with adapting their operations to multiplatform delivery, they have placed a premium on finding alternate test-and-measurement systems that can offer a simplified interface while providing an adequate level of signal analysis. Placed throughout the media facility, lower-cost video monitors that incorporate MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 TS monitoring offer much greater flexibility in monitoring and analyzing video, audio and metadata at any point in the signal flow, whether inside or outside the central HD-SDI infrastructure.
This article will discuss the latest advances in chipset and technology development that are enabling compact, affordable MPEG monitoring solutions. By providing integrated support for DVB-ASI, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 transport streams, these new monitors are playing a critical role in helping broadcasters and other content providers improve the efficiency and agility of their monitoring operations — and, ultimately, the integrity of the final signal they deliver to viewers.
Multiplatform MPEG monitoring
MPEG monitoring equipment is not a new fixture in media facilities; in fact, it has always been a requirement in any operation that relies on some type of MPEG transport stream for content delivery: free-to-air stations, pay-TV networks, video over IP and mobile-TV providers. Traditional MPEG monitoring systems are high-end and expensive and are designed for detailed, byte-by-byte analysis; fault logging; and display of each MPEG stream.
In an operation with multiple transport streams, with different transcoding formats and resolutions required for different device types, it is not feasible or cost-effective to install a high-end monitoring system for multipoint probing of every stream. The ideal solution, therefore, is a low-cost monitoring platform that can perform a sort of triage on the stream at key points in the transmission path by interrogating it at a basic level, and then handing the signal off to higher-end equipment if a fault condition is detected.