Multichoice prepares for the future with IP platform from Imagine Communications
MultiChoice, the largest satellite broadcaster in Africa, is responding to rapidly growing customer demand for superior content by building a new playout centre. The new facility is the first stage of the broadcaster’s transformation from traditional video playout to leading-edge IP transport and modular playout technology, providing for greater business agility, technical and operational flexibility.
Currently broadcasting around 150 video and 180 audio channels across six platforms to over 14 million subscribers in 46 countries across Africa, the new facility, located at the company’s Randburg headquarters in a suburb of Johannesburg, is being implemented by Concilium Technologies, using Imagine Communications’ software-defined microservices products and IP interfacing technology.
“We recognised a strong consumer demand for pristine content, but need to also provide for that demand in the most cost-effective and efficient manner,” said Julian Ankiah, head of technology engineering at MultiChoice Support Services. “We needed to take advantage of the benefits of IP signal reticulation, while ensuring tight integration with our existing platforms, and particularly our business services. Imagine understood our commercial drivers, and showed how their technology could both deliver what we want now and reflect our chosen pace of transition to IP and software-centric platforms into the future.”
Ankiah continued, “By introducing a dynamic technology platform and assembling an excellent viewing bundle, built around compelling and premium entertainment and sports channels, we are adding significant value for subscribers and television consumers.”
“This is a great project, because it gives MultiChoice two big wins,” said Mathias Eckert, SVP & GM EMEA/APAC, Playout & Networking, at Imagine Communications. “First, and most obvious, it allows them to respond to consumer demand. Secondly, it provides a solid route to the future with a solution that offers a very low total cost of ownership.”
Eckert continued, “MultiChoice has a clear vision of delivering all its content across reticulated IP networks for high resilience and geo-diversity. They recognised that the Imagine microservices approach to software-defined functionality with inherent virtualisation is a good foundation on which to build future systems. We look forward to continuing to work closely with MultiChoice, as we move through the stages of this transition.”
The new playout centre provides playout functionality built around Versio, a modular, microservices-based solution, hosted on the latest generation servers from HPE. It includes eight HD channels, with full redundancy on every channel.
The architecture delivers the high performance and high-availability broadcast resilience MultiChoice demands with the bonus of added value functionality such as integrated graphics for channel branding. Also included in this project is the EPIC MV multiviewer.
Versio modular playout and EPIC MV multiviewers are built on Imagine’s Zenium microservices platform, which provides a library of services that run on COTS servers for a compact footprint and excellent energy performance. Microservices are not only cloud-native, but also allow users to quickly add new functionality. As an example, a request from MultiChoice to provide mirrored storage in a different location could be met quickly and simply by only adding the required microservices.
Within the centre, existing SDI signals are transported as uncompressed video-over-IP, via eight high-density, all-IP-capable Selenio Network Processors (SNP), providing SDI/IP encapsulation and processing for IP/IP, SDI/IP, IP/SDI for up to UHD-HDR resolution formats. As business needs evolve, the SNPs enable MultiChoice to seamlessly transform the centre from a hybrid to an all-IP architecture, while delivering cost-effective support for next-gen workflows.
The new playout centre is closely integrated into MultiChoice’s existing infrastructure, which includes Imagine D-Series automation control, Selenio processing and Platinum IP3 routing. It is expected to go on air in late 2019.