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13 January 2022

Ateme lands low latency bragging rights with not-a-demo Canal+ deal

Stepping into the new year with a branding makeover, French video delivery vendor Ateme has attracted long-term operator customer Canal+ to its NEA just-in-time packager product for low latency streaming – exclusively on the AppleTV OTT video platform.

Like no smoke without fire, we rarely find low latency technologies without live sports – and where we find low latency streaming, we rarely see it in a real-life deployment. The Canal+ announcement is no demo, however, with Ateme emphasizing that this is one of the world’s first OTT low latency cases of its type.

The Vivendi-owned operator deployment crunches latency time from 40 seconds to 5 seconds for streaming sports in HD and UHD via the myCanal SVoD application, specifically only on HLS-compatible Apple TV 4K, iPad and iPhone devices. Canal+ has been offering Apple TV 4K set tops with myCanal preloaded to subscribers since 2018.

Admittedly, this means we are talking about a niche use case, as we doubt Apple devices account for the lion’s share of myCanal viewing, compared to cheaper connected TV devices like those from Roku and Amazon.

Conveniently, on the very same day as the Ateme news, Canal+ revealed that myCanal has 12 million monthly users in France. To call them monthly users, rather than paid subscribers, is suspicious of an SVoD service, particularly as the same announcement claims that myCanal has added 15 million new connections over the last year. Those numbers just don’t add up, and the task of unravelling this is made difficult by the protective shield of parent Vivendi. Our initial assumption is that the 15 million new connections number is global, accounting for regions such as French-speaking countries across Africa where myCanal expanded last year, while the 12 million reported users are confined to within French borders.

Ignoring this completely garbled way of reporting operational figures for now, we see this deployment as an ideal real-world starting point for Ateme’s low latency technologies, as one that will not be overwhelmed by tens of millions of concurrent streamers.

Looking at the technology itself, the NEA packager inherited via the acquisition of Anevia is central to the deployment. Since that deal, Ateme has of course slapped its own influence on the just-in-time NEA packager, which now offers production-grade low latency in pull mode for both HLS and DASH.

Anevia’s NEA suite has brought a lot of value to Ateme, not only with the core CDN capabilities but also around analytics, dynamic ad insertion and channel origination capabilities, which in turn have opened doors into personalized TV and thematic channels. The low latency element of the now integrated product suite is coming to the fore – bringing OTT video applications closer in line with experiences expected from broadcast delivery.

We can’t mention low latency without quickly casting an eye to 5G. To this end, Faultline learned recently that Ateme is working with a telco systems integrator and a tower manufacturer to see how best it can deploy low latency products across 5G edge networks. Ateme takes the viewpoint that low latency and high bandwidth are mutually beneficial, while arguing that 5G networks are being deployed irrespective of the video world – where overlapping qualities between the two brings mutual benefits.