Video services

Envivio Swings at 4K Video

Bidding to serve up an ace, Envivio is providing the advanced video compression technology for French broadcaster TDF's Ultra HD coverage of the French Open tennis tournament in Paris.

Envivio Inc. (NASDAQ: ENVI) announced Tuesday morning that TDF is using the vendor's encoding gear and software to stream tennis matches to Panasonic 4K TVs and other compatible 4K TV sets in France. Those sets include 4K TVs set up at the RG Labs in France Television's booth and the French Tennis Federation's facilities near the Eiffel Tower's transmission center.

Claiming it to be a world's first for a live, over-the-air TV broadcast, Envivio said it's using High Efficiency Video Codec (HEVC) compression technology to deliver the 4K video streams. HEVC encoding technology, also known as H.265, is about 50% more efficient than the MPEG-4/H.264 encoding technology used for standard HD video, which means that it can squeeze the same amount of video into half as much bandwidth.

With the aid of HEVC, Envivio said it's encoding the 4K video coverage of the French Open at the rate of 50 frames a second. The video tech specialist is relying on its Muse Ultra HD encoding software running on its G5 appliances, which are capable of encoding video at up to 60 frames per second, to carry out the process.

TDF is broadcasting the match coverage in DVB-T2 format to TNT, France's national DTT service. The French Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments on the world tennis circuit, started Sunday and will run through June 8.

With the French Open win, Envivio is aiming to make its mark in the budding 4K video encoding wars. Envivio is competing in this space against a number of other video encoding specialists, including Elemental Technologies Inc. (ETI) , Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT), Media Excel Inc. , Thomson Video Networks , and others. (See Elemental Shows Off 4K .)

The new HEVC standard is considered crucial for encoding 4K video, which consumes four times as much bandwidth as standard HD programming. Live sporting events are considered the ultimate proving ground for HEVC encoding solutions because of all the action that must be captured on camera.

With the 4K TV market heating up, look for more news about Ultra HD video coverage and HEVC encoding rollouts as the quadrennial World Cup soccer tournament gears up to start in Brazil next month.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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