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VidiPath technology promises to make pay-TV streaming seamless and painless

Michael Ansaldo | April 2, 2015
For years television broadcasters have promised to deliver their content to all the screens in your home, but TV Everywhere has largely gone nowhere. Despite a proliferation of apps and websites that extend broadcast and pay TV content to mobile devices, the dream has turned into a nightmare for many consumers, thanks to service restrictions, subscriber authentication problems, and a host of other issues. That may change, however, with the arrival of VidiPath, a new wireless standard that allows you to stream content directly to your devices from your service provider's set-top box.

VidiPath offers a lot to love for service providers, as well. Because the system requires only one gateway, cable, satellite, and telco companies will be able to limit the number of set-top boxes they need to deploy to homes, reducing their capital expenditure. It also means each provider can design a single universal user interface rather than managing multiple unique apps for a variety of devices. Perhaps most importantly, streams are protected by DTCP-IP, so providers get tighter control over their content. And, of course, VidiPath's seamless system gives providers more ways to get more content in front of more people.

Venturing into Vidipath

As with DLNA-certified products, VidiPath products will be clearly identified by a logo that assures consumers it can access your TV subscription content. And that's the rub: To take advantage of streaming from a VidiPath-enabled set-top box, you'll have to upgrade your home theater components and mobile devices to VidiPath-certified counterparts, and that transition may be tough. Given that most people get a new smartphone every couple of years, it's probably easy enough to phase in VidiPath with your next upgrade.

But the idea of replacing perfectly good home theater components with a longer shelf life will be harder to swallow. For its part, DLNA believes manufacturers will offer a way to bring at least some current Smart TVs and other components up to spec through a firmware upgrade, the addition of a streaming stick, or some other method. Similarly, mobile devices without VidiPath could conceivably be updated with a VidiPath app.

DLNA launched the VidiPath certification program last September, but it remains to be seen which kinds of products will incorporate the new standard first. TVs, smartphones and tablets are all safe bets. Regardless, you'll undoubtedly see the first VidiPath-certified devices coming from cable providers, namely the three aforementioned ones that had a hand in developing the guidelines. Steve Necessary, Vice President of Video Product and Strategy with Cox Communications, has said his company "will be releasing our next upgrade of VidiPath capabilities by the second quarter of 2015." Once the content providers go all in, consumer electronics manufacturers should follow by bringing their first VidiPath-certified products to store shelves by the end of the year.

There are still plenty of questions about exactly how VidiPath will be implemented by both pay-TV providers and consumer electronics manufacturers, but the picture should become clearer as the first products come to market. But even from this vantage point, it certainly seems like a game changer. After years of futzing with half-baked streaming solutions, we might finally have HD content beamed to every screen in our homes. Now that's must-see TV.

 

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