UK proprietary codec specialist V -Nova says it has cut a deal with Tata Elxsi, to distribute its technology to pay TV providers and broadcasters. Tata Elxsi says it has already integrated V-Nova’s technology in a set-top-box (STB) of a satellite TV operator in Europe, to us this looks like a technology that would suit Indian mobile TV services – an area where Tata is also well connected.
If V-Nova’s codecs are as straightforward as it says, able to sit in front of existing pay TV services and plug straight in, then V-Nova would have many more customers than it has announced and when we last spoke to Fabio Murra, head of marketing, he told us that at least 20 companies were using it but that V-Nova could not name them, so perhaps it has. It had revenues of £2.8 million in the year to March 2016, in the process losing £5.8 million, but has yet to file this year’s results. Both Eutelsat and sky are investors.
V-Nova emerged from a five year stealth in April 2015, claiming to have totally reinvented the modern codec, using far more pixel prediction than conventional codecs. Many codecs such as H.264 have up to 20 separate profiles, and use lots of prediction, but most of these techniques are processor intensive and burn battery. The company insists this is not the case with V-Nova.
When it launched it was used in Sky Italia’s contribution feeds, it has since won distribution deals at Eutelsat whereby it broadcast seven Europe 2016 football matches in UHD on the Tivusat platform in Italy.
We also know that V-Nova was integrated into a Wyplay set top for Sky Italia and Telecom Italia on IPTV claiming to cut the Sky HD bitrate from 8 Mbps to 4 Mbps on a software only upgrade going through an Harmonic Encoder.
It has also been integrated by Nokia’s Cloud DVR, as well as with Oregan middleware – a combination which is used at Telefonica – and yet Telefonica is not listed as a either a client or an investor.
So while the partnership with Tata Elxsi may well be focusing in Europe, it would make more sense to us for it to become the integration partner in Tata Sky, in India. There are so few broadband lines in India that most people watch the DTH video services when on the move using both WiFi and cellular, but in India WiFi is mostly backhauled on Cellular. In India Reliance Jio has totally disrupted the market offering a free, yet comprehensive video service and tons of data for a low fixed price. Other rivals like Tata Sky, are having to face up to this disruption and would likely be more receptive to his type of codec innovation, especially if it was integrated by one of its sister companies.
Tata Sky Mobile App in India offers existing pay TV subscribers 140 live channels and an on-demand catalog and costs about $0.96 a month and is free to TV some subscribers.
Elsewhere in Europe Tata Elxsi has few set top clients, and we can only locate NOS in Portugal where it has put RDK into a set top. NOS is partly cable and partly DTH delivery.
Guido Meardi, V-Nova CEO and Co-Founder said: “We are excited to be partnering with Tata Elxsi and see great potential in combining the company’s technology innovation, project management experience and commercial reach with the power of V-Nova Perseus 2. Together with Tata Elxsi, we can help operators turbocharge the performance of their services with the rapid deployment of V-Nova Perseus 2 on custom integrations across a wide range of client devices, including legacy and new cable, IPTV and satellite STBs.”
V-Nova has around 60 staff, far more than most codec start-ups have had in the past, and we suspect there are either more clients ready to emerge or Sky has a vested interest in keeping V-Nova in harness and will use it enterprise wide as a secret sauce.