Espial supplies digital TV and IPTV software and solutions to cable MSOs and telecommunications operators as well as consumer electronics manufacturers. The company offers middleware, video-on-demand, and browser products for a diverse range of pay-TV and Internet TV business models.
Jaison Dolvane, president and CEO, Espial, recently shared his thoughts on the latest trends in smart TV market to Infotech Lead:
What are the latest offerings from Espial for the smart TV market?
The Espial TV Browser can be easily pre-integrated onto set-top boxes to offer a compelling user interface, Web browsing, and over-the-top video experience. Based on the powerful WebKit rendering engine, that is also used by Google Chrome and Apple Safari browsers, the Espial TV Browser is Web-video ready with built-in Adobe Flash and supports HTML5 and the latest w3c Web and interactive TV standards, including HbbTV and OIPF. By deploying an HTML5-based browser, content providers can more rapidly deploy advanced graphics and applications in order to deliver an optimized viewing experience on connected devices.
What are the capabilities of the Espial Media Service Platform?
The Espial Media Service Platform provides service operators with a single headend platform for managing and delivering TV services across multiple networks (OTT and managed) as well as across a variety of devices including smartphones, tablets, PCs, and Smart TVs. Through this highly scalable and automated solution, operators can cost-effectively support millions of subscribers on any connected device, all while delivering the highest possible quality of experience. Services can be customized by market segments based on regional, language, and other requirements, enabling operators to tailor TV channel lineups, pricing models, movies, and services including linear TV, video-on-demand (VOD), time-shift television (TSTV), digital video recording (DVR), and pay-per-view (PPV) for their target markets.
In expanding the platform’s capabilities to support multiscreen, we’ve identified content security as a major challenge for service operators who are delivering content over the open Internet to a growing number of connected devices. We’ve resolved those issues by adding sophisticated content playback controls, geoblocking, and user authentication features that enable operators to limit access to content being viewed over the open Internet based on geography, user, and type of device.
Espial Media Service Platform also features a powerful placeshifting functionality that allows users to begin watching video content on any IP-connected device, such as a smartphone or tablet, and continue watching that same content at home on their Smart TV, without losing their place. This truly makes television watching a seamless experience across a broad range of devices.
Additionally, the Espial Media Service Platform simplifies subscriber management by enabling a household to register multiple users and multiscreen devices in order to manage and customize video services for each user. This is particularly beneficial for unique use cases, such as a family that wants to set up parental controls for their children.
What are the key markets served by Espial? Who are your major customers?
The main markets we serve are pay-TV operators, including telcos, MSOs, and satellite broadcast providers, and Smart TV consumer electronics manufacturers. Our major pay-TV customers include Com Hem in Sweden, KDDI in Japan, and Vodaphone Iceland. Espial products have also been successfully deployed by many tier 1 smart TV manufacturers including Sharp in China, Japan, and North America; Toshiba in North America; and Hitachi worldwide.
How do you expect the market for on-demand video to grow in the coming years?
As consumers increasingly view video content on a wide range of devices, anytime and anywhere, we expect that the market for on-demand content will continue to grow at an explosive rate, leading to additional technology advancements and an even more customized user experience.
How do the latest Web technologies like HTML 5 impact the smart TV services?
Through a powerful collection of features, technologies, and APIs, including WebGL and CSS3D, HTML5 enables content providers to deliver a more interactive and consistent user experience on any device. Prior to HTML5, content developers had to write and maintain a separate native application for every operating system, screen size, and environment. HTML5 simplifies this process by standardizing audio, video, and other technologies directly into the browser, enabling applications to be written once and be deployed once to a broad range of devices. Harnessing HTML5, content developers can deliver compelling applications and enhanced content on Smart TVs and other IP-connected devices.
Our Espial TV Browser fully supports HTML5, enabling high-speed animation and more sophisticated visual effects than we’ve ever seen before on Smart TVs. Content developers can use HTML5 technologies to create 3D-like graphics and an immersive interface that includes sophisticated animations with shading, smooth textures, and real-time responsiveness to user input.
What are your latest innovations for HTML5 based Smart TV platforms?
Espial has been leading the charge on HTML5 compliancy. The next steps include broadening our HTML5 capabilities to encompass application frameworks that improve the security of delivered content. We believe that the latest HTML5 innovations will enable Smart TV platforms to become the set-top box of the future.
Who are the major competitors? What is your current market share in the IPTV and digital TV software market?
Based on the growing amount of live and VOD multiscreen services being deployed, we are in a competitive space that includes several innovative technology solutions providers. We believe Espial delivers a unique value proposition by offering operators a powerful HTML5 and WebKit-based browser and high-performance Smart TV headend products.
Any major expansion plans/ innovations in pipeline?
We are a public company, so we cannot comment on any expansion plans. With regards to innovations in the pipeline, Espial works closely with our current customers and future prospects to develop technology advancements that will define the next generation of TV Everywhere services. One of the ways we do that is by providing operators with an open technology platform that supports all industry formats and standards. We recently joined the DASH Promoters Group and added MPEG-DASH support to Espial MediaBase, our high-performance on-demand video platform. By supporting MPEG-DASH, we’re enabling cable, IPTV, and satellite providers to more efficiently deliver a wide range of on-demand services, including VOD, time-shift TV, network PVR, and live TV.