, a TANDBERG Television Company and leader in IP video delivery solutions, announced that the video encoders in its Mediaplex-20 and iPlex video headends now support Picture-in-Picture (PiP) -- a capability in Microsoft TV's IPTV Edition software platform -- to allow consumers to simultaneously watch multiple streams of video content on a single viewing screen. The new functionality gives service providers increased flexibility to customize their channel offerings and provides consumers more control over their television experience.
"While the television industry may be familiar with existing picture-in-picture from cable operators, this new PiP feature is designed specifically for telcos that offer advanced video services like IPTV and video-on-demand," said Jim Olson, president and CEO of SkyStream. "PiP helps these carriers continue their technological advances by introducing another level of interactivity for the viewer."
Unlike digital mosaic solutions that tile multiple channels into one video stream, PiP creates a lower bit-rate video stream within the headend -- giving service providers two video streams for single delivery. Service providers can combine PiP channels with main channels to offer additional video content on a single screen to improve the viewing experience.
PiP functionality is now integrated with the video encoders in the Mediaplex and iPlex, bringing PiP encoding to the headend and eliminating costly PiP equipment that would otherwise have to be installed in the subscriber's set-top box. Service providers can fully-load the Mediaplex and iPlex with PiP encoders, or can choose to replace up to half of their encoders, allowing a Mediaplex to accommodate up to 48 PiP encoders while an iPlex can feature eight PiP encoders.
"As the video market becomes increasingly crowded, service providers are looking for new services to boost revenue and lure subscribers," continued Olson. "By combining PiP with our highly dense Mediaplex and iPlex headends, we're giving consumers better price/performance and a more interactive digital television experience by letting them watch multiple TV channels at the same time, but still maintaining low operational costs for service providers. No other vendor offers such a complete, yet compact, solution for video encoding, decoding and transcoding."
Demonstrations, Pricing and Availability
PiP functionality for the Mediaplex and iPlex headends will be available in June. SkyStream will offer PiP demonstrations April 24-27 in Booth SL2987 at the NAB2006 conference at the Las Vegas Convention Center.