New Broadcasting Standards (3 of 3): Recommendations for Adoption of UHDTV, HEVC & S2 Extensions

Friday 19 July 2013
New Broadcasting Standards (3 of 3): Recommendations for Adoption of UHDTV, HEVC & S2 Extensions


by Simon Pryor,
Market Development Director for Broadcast @ Newtec

There are a number of new broadcasting standards entering the market for quality (UHDTV 4K/8K), compression (HEVC) and satellite transmission (S2 Extensions). In my first blog post I was "Putting UHDTV into Practical Perspective". In my 2nd blog post I've discussed "How to Improve Satellite Efficiency". This time I would like to provide recommendations for these new adoptions.

Recommendations for Adoption of UHDTV, HEVC & S2 Extensions

It is clear that the three new technologies will make an impact on TV transmission. However, the main goal of this blog post is to understand which combinations of them will gain market traction, for which applications and when. An overview of the projected combinations is shown below:

Figure 4: Overview of the expected impact of UHDTV/HEVC/S2x

Recommendations to benefit from these new S2 Extensions, HEVC & UHDTV, without getting carried away by the hype of the next best thing, are as follows:

  1. You can upgrade existing DTH and other satellite distribution platforms to S2 Extensions now, to get tangible benefits and ROI, with installed base of STBs.
  2. You can start using S2 Extensions modulators, receivers & modems now, for contribution and high speed links (higher throughput or less satellite bandwidth), with software upgrade to final S2 Extensions in 2013.
  3. HEVC will make impact in 2013/2014 in distribution of mobile, SD & HDTV, where the installed based of receivers (e.g. updates for software or FPGA based decoders) does not limit rollout.
  4. S2 Extensions & HEVC will have a big impact during 2013/2014 in primary distribution of DTT DVB-T2 and to cable headends. Most new ‘green field’ DVB-T2 deployments will be looking to use HEVC end-to-end in 2014/2015 timeframe. Additionally, there will be increased OPEX benefits by using wideband 54 & 72MHz transponders for primary distribution, with increased market adoption.
  5. Contribution & live feeds using HEVC & S2 Extensions for HD (upto 1080p, 8-14bit, 4:2:0-4:4:4), where longer latency is acceptable, will have an impact in 2014/2015.
  6. Low latency contribution with HEVC (like interactive news stand-ups with talk-back) will only really happen in 2015/2016; Meanwhile the latest ultra low latency Intra profile AVC codecs will dominate this segment.
  7. HEVC will quickly be used for IP Fast News Gathering (FNG) applications (e.g. over Internet, 3G, VSAT) where small bitrates for reasonable quality (but longer delays) or for smaller file sizes will have operational benefits.
  8. 2014 FIFA world cup & 2016 Olympics will drive demos of live 4K UHDTV.
  9. 4K UHDTV will first be adopted in production, special events and special niches (like super slowmo HD from 4K). Full commercial live 4K TV broadcasting will take considerably longer, but premium content & early adopters will ensure some limited services. Most of the 4K capable TVs will just display up scaled HD for many years, which, while better than todays 720p/1080i HD-Lite, may provoke a consumer backlash. Distribution of 1080p HD at high frame rates (with upscaling to 4K in TVs) will be an intermediate step before full 4K distribution becomes technically and economically prevalent.
  10. 4K will necessitate the adoption of All-IP broadcast infrastructure and mezzanine compression for master formats. This will facilitate distributed broadcast headends, which will increase the importance of (ProMPEG COP3) FEC to eliminate packet loss (e.g. between playout and uplink).
  11. Due to difference in market adoption timing of S2 Extensions, HEVC & UHDTV, it is recommended to split professional IRD functionality into separate units (receiver & decoder), to get the benefits of the evolutions (especially S2 Extensions & HEVC for SD/HD) in a timely and flexible way, introducing 4K when it is stable & becomes mainstream. This can often be done in a cost-effective way for primary distribution by re-using existing IRDs and using techniques such as transmodulation, shown in the diagram below:

Figure 5: Flexible Strategies for Receivers of S2 Extensions


While it is true that a large part of the drive to introduce UHDTV is to sell more TVs, it is not just a gimmick. Advancements in video encoding (HEVC) and satellite transmission (S2 Extensions) will provide tangible cost savings for adoption with todays TV standards and will be a pre-requisite for UHDTV. Like with all new technologies, superior technical performance or features do not guarantee commercial adoption or success.

This blog post analyses the real impact and limitations of these new technologies and tries to identify what will really happen in the market and when, recommending the winning combinations. See the whitepaper linked below for more in depth analysis.

I look forward to any feedback on this blog post on what you found useful, suggestions to keep this content relevant!

So, thanks for reading my last blog post.


Market Development Director for Broadcast @ Newtec


Go back to [blog post 1 of 3]: "Putting UHDTV into Practical Perspective".

Go back to [blog post 2 of 3]: "Improved Satellite Efficiency".

Read the [White Paper]: "Migration Strategies S2 Extensions, UHDTV and HEVC"