My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: RJR Group to launch UNIV’s uVOD Streaming Platform by October 2014 - Streaming Gamble against Piracy as 2015 is DSO to DTT and Digital HD Radio

Friday, April 18, 2014

RJR Group to launch UNIV’s uVOD Streaming Platform by October 2014 - Streaming Gamble against Piracy as 2015 is DSO to DTT and Digital HD Radio

“Jamaicans worldwide maintain close ties with friends and families back home, and keep up with news, TV programmes, films and events that are happening in Jamaica”

Managing Director of RJR, Gary Allen announcing in a Press Release on Sunday, April 06, 2014 that the RJR Communications Group is planning to launch a Streaming Platform by October 2014

RJR Communication Group has apparently seen their coming demise at the hand of the rise of Streaming Video once 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) goes live in the next eighteen (18) months as stated in my blog article entitledLIME and Digicel have purchase AWS and 700 MHZ Spectrum for 4G LTE - Spectrum Purchase by the Number with Strings Attached as Ministry gets kitty donations from Local Telcos”.

To this end, they’ve announced a deal worth millions with Miami-based UNIV (Unified Video Technologies) to basically go VOD (Video On Demand) Streaming by October 2014 as stated in “RJR goes live Streaming, video on-demand by Oct”, published Sunday, April 06, 2014, The Jamaica Observer.

The deal by the RJR Communications Group will see them installing over the next few months UNIV's uVOD (video-on-demand) Streaming Platform. It will allow the Group's various TV, Cable and Radio Stations to be accessed over a common branded portal both via the Web. It will also allow anywhere access via an App on smartphones and Tablet is Jamaica and worldwide.

The RJR Television Stations to be streamed on this new uVOD Streaming Platform by October 2014 are as follows:

1.      Television Jamaica
2.      TVJ Sports Network
3.      JNN (Jamaica News Network)

However, RJR Group Director of Finance, Andrea Messam, was mum on the cost of launching the System, as apparently the money is being sourced even as they sign the deal with UNIV.

UNIV, for their part having experience with getting other large companies to set up their uVOD Streaming Platform, is pretty upbeat at the prospect of their deal and achieving the go-live timeline by October 2014, to quote Chief Technical Officer of UNIV Ariel Matzkin, quote: “UNIV is committed to helping RJR make the most of their digital assets by empowering them to deliver on-demand and linear Content to viewers everywhere, at any time and on any screen”.

Those companies using their VOD (Video on Demand) Platform include the following on their experienced contractor-for-hire shortlist:

1.      Comcast
2.      NBC
3.      TNT
4.      USA
5.      FOX 

Streaming is going to be huge and implies a lot of cord-cutting will be going on as many Jamaicans either snap up 4G LTE or buy Internet-only packages from Triple Play Provider FLOW as predicted in my blog article entitled “Cable TV subscriptions Declines as the Connected Home boost IPTV Streaming”.

Based on the list of Apps that currently exist for the RJR Communication Group Radio and Television Stations, most of their Streaming is mainly Radio Stations:

Especially when one considers the fact that most streaming of original Radio Content, currently the only Local 24/7/365 Streaming ongoing in Jamaica. This is mostly RJR’s Different Radio Stations streamed via various websites with no common App to allow users to dial through all the Radio stations on your smartphone or Tablet as pointed out in my blog article entitledMusic Cloud Streaming set to rise in 2014 - Still no home-grown Jamaican or Caribbean Free Cloud Storage Services as we Ride Along on Foreign Cloud Services”.

Television barely has Streaming portal, save for Television Jamaica; the rest listed far above have no Streaming portals save for RE TV (Reggae Entertainment TV). Streaming implies different services will be forthcoming and in this case, it appear to be the case, to again quote RJR Group Director of Finance, Andrea Messam: “We haven't worked out the details, but there will be different types of services, with different bundles so the costs will vary”.

Thus the following services are possible with a few caveats that need to be in place for it to be a success:

1.      24/7/365 Streaming instead of just a few hours per day on Television Jamaica’s Website
2.      Websites for all the other Television Station and Radio Stations under one common redesigned RJR Communication Group website
3.      Broadcast in HD (High Definition) at 720p and 1080p Resolutions, with the capability to scale up to 4K and offer 3D Programming in the future
4.      Access to RJR Communication Group Library of Content and the ability to pay to play via Apps being made for their various Radio and Television Stations
5.      Pay-per-view Programming, where certain exclusive Content such as local Sports Events can be viewed for a price
6.      Accessible on any device, be it a Computer running Windows, Apple Mac OS Laptops and computers, Apple iPhone or Apple iPad and Google Android smartphones and Tablets.
7.      A lot of Local Programming Content from TVJ, a major hurdle for the RJR Communication Group to cross, as most of our programming is rehashed Content from abroad

Clearly, the RJR Communication Group has their work cut out for them to get themselves up to scratch by launch in October 2014,

RJR’s Streaming Gamble – Piracy on the Internet as they gear up for DSO in 2015

As I'd pointed out at the start of the article, the coming 4G LTE Networks means that they need to get cracking on DSO (Digital Switch Over) as well as argued in my Geezam blog article entitled  “The Future of Free-to-Air Broadcasters in Jamaica as Digital Switch Over Approaches in 2015”. RJR Communication Group is short on specifics on their project.

But the impromptu nature of the announcement a mere three (3) days after the purchase of the 700 MHz and the AWS Spectrum was announced for Telecom Provider Digicel and Telecom Provider LIME suggests that it may really be a preliminary announcement and not something concrete.

As this will be another financial revenue stream for RJR Communication Group, it implies that they may also be throwing up a paywall for their Content, both for Television and Radio in a fashion similar to what the Jamaica Gleaner is currently doing as described in my blog article entitled “The Jamaica Gleaner’s US$9.99 Paywall goes live on Thursday January 2nd 2014 - News is no longer free as Tomorrow Never Dies for The Paper Man”.

Already, Television Jamaica is testing the waters. Viewers accessing visiting Television Jamaica’s Website and trying to access Live Streaming will no doubt told that they have to sign up to get a Java-based JwPlayer in order to view the Live stream. For the not-so-tech-savvy, this may have caused some confusion, especially if you don’t have the JVM (Java Virtual Machine) already installed on your computer of if you have a Tablet or smartphone.

In my mind this smacks of panic on the part of RJR Communication Group, as they didn’t even pre-announce it on Television or Radio to explain to customer how to use this JwPlayer Script, which I’ve downloaded, registered for but I’m still trying to figure out. I however, like the fact that it’s embeddable, something many a Web Administrator will welcome, which suggests that in the future it may be possible that Television Jamaica Videos may be embeddable like YouTube videos.

Making their Content this available on so many Platforms opens them up to Piracy, similar to what’s happening to Irie FM as stated on “Pirates prey on Irie FM — Schmidt”, published Friday, April 11, 2014 by STEVEN JACKSON Business reporter, The Jamaica Observer.

So Piracy of their Audio and Video Content should be a major concern for them.

Broadcasting on Schedule for DSO – 2015 is the Year of DTT and Digital HD Radio

So it’s without question that UNIV’s uVOD Streaming Platform is the RJR Communication Group’s defense against the coming onslaught of Streaming VOD and Radio over 4G LTE. More interestingly, it’ll also be sporting a paywall to monetize their massive library of Content.

But what of DSO (Digital Switch Over)?

This uVOD Streaming Platform is merely riding upon the hopes of ubiquitous always-available 4G LTE Broadband Internet. The RJR Communication Group has no way of knowing how Jamaicans will react to this service and utilize it, suggesting that this may not be their only strategy.

They‘ll also have to make plans to also put in place physical infrastructure to build out a DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television) Network capable of Digital Television Broadcasting using the newer DVB-H or ASTC Digital Broadcast standards to replace the older NTSC Analog Broadcast standards.

It is effectively the whole Broadcasting Industry now being told to gear up for more Spectrum Sales as predicted in my blog article entitled “Phillip Paulwell allocates 700Mhz and Fiber Optic License for LTE - Broadcasters effectively on notice for Digital Switch Over” as 2015 is the Year of DTT and Digital HD Radio!

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