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16 July 2020

Newly formed Eurovision Services is one of world’s largest SRT users

While it was the name Comcast Technology Solutions that attracted us to a Haivision-hosted webinar this week, it was the name Eurovision Services that was at the forefront of our mind by the time the Secure Reliable Transport (SRT) session wrapped up.

Our interest was piqued further to learn that Eurovision Services was one of the earliest adopters of SRT shortly after it was open sourced in April 2017, as well as getting hard and fast into fiber early by deploying a fiber network way back in 2004. We were therefore bamboozled as to why a company getting ahead of the curve had never crossed our radar before, until it became apparent that Eurovision Services was only formed in January 2019, as a new business services subsidiary of the The European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

Not to be confused with the Eurovision Song Contest, which is the first result a Google search for Eurovision will bring up, Eurovision Services represents the largest association of broadcasters in the world, delivering over 1,000 events a year.

Eurovision Services’ Head of Global Operations & Engineering, Amine Hafnaoui, explained his firm’s business model. “We process signals then distribute content to authorized rights holders, and provide customized and personalized services such as streaming and OTT platforms. To answer massive demand from customers, we rely on a big network made up of building blocks – satellite, fiber, PoPs and nodes,” he said.

Eurovision Services has created something called WorldFeed, based on its Global Network, to connect media firms around the world to content, at massive scale and reach. The benefit of such reach is avoiding the need for technical installations as most media groups are already equipped to receive signals.

“We can reach most of civilization using two satellites per region, while our fiber network arrived in 2004 to meet demand, which is present in around 2,000 nodes that can expand in the event of major events. This enables us to connect to other broadcaster networks and get as close as possible to venues,” added Hafnaoui.

Then, to increase global reach further, came SRT – which Hafnaoui described as a “must” on public internet networks. He outlined Contribution (SRT encoder and SRT edge), Acquisition (SRT gateway, to HQ, to SRT gateway), and Distribution (SRT decoders), as the basic principal SRT process.

“We multicast content in regional hubs, and our gateways have capacity of 5 Gbps bandwidth and jitter level is down to just 5ms,” he boasted.

A main benefit here for Eurovision Services and its customers is the duplication of one SRT stream into multiple streams. A specific use case being tested right now by Eurovision Services is reception of content sent through the satellite network and received through the open internet, showing network redundancy over two different types of networks.

We almost forgot that Comcast Technology Solutions was part of the webinar, with Executive Director of Products Peter Gibson giving a fairly bland overview of the view from the US.

Like most businesses with a focus on channel delivery, Comcast Technology Solutions decided a few years ago that it wanted to securely and reliably deliver content over the internet and acquire content from different sources, so – like Eurovision Services – in came SRT as a no-brainer.

One distinct advantage Comcast Technology Solutions has is the ability to push out to the Comcast edge network, where SRT media gateways are deployed on edge infrastructure to pick up signals, over satellite, fiber, or dedicated networks. Any signals it doesn’t already have, it can pick up over the open internet.

Of course, the Comcast network was purpose built for video over X1, boasting 180 PoPs across the country. It has also configured the channel delivery edge to be geo-dispersed, meaning customers can pick up signals locally from the edge network.

On the channel creation side, Gibson is getting geared up to create additional revenue streams for customers with additional pop up channels and distribution partners, particularly as a method for promoting live events as they return to action after an extended hiatus.

Comcast Technology Solutions and Eurovision Services, two broadcast services divisions spun out of two giant organizations either side of the pond, both reaching new heights by rolling out SRT. It’s worth noting that as of Haivision’s previous webinar just under a month ago, the SRT Alliance membership has grown from 350 to over 400.