IPTV from scratch

As Flussonic grows into a complex solution for any kind of video content delivery, powering up numerous OTT IPTV services as a media server is still one of the major drivers for our business. So this time we decided to make a detailed step-by-step manual for our new and existing partners and explain how an effective IPTV service can be built within a few hours with Flussonic at its core.

1. Content

An IPTV provider is defined by its content. Thousands of companies on the market produce tons of TV channels, documentaries, movies and other stuff - it a real mess. This article is about technical aspects of IPTV providers business, not content-wise, so our main advice here - mind your own audience and ambition. If your future OTT IPTV service is a venture start-up with limited (less than a few thousand) amount of subscribers, forget about the most popular and well-known channels - the royalties and other expenses that follow these media monsters can bury any fine young enterprise even before its launch. Some of them are made by leading broadcasting companies from all over the world, some maintained by real enthusiasts and allowed for broadcasting at no cost. Or maybe you want to produce and distribute some original media? Flussonic-based IPTV server can be handy in this case as well.

Most of IPTV services resell and broadcast TV channels brought by satellite. You can visit flysat.com to get a complete list of available satellites, their orbital positions, frequencies and channels they serve. Some channels are marked with F, which means FTA - the signal comes unencrypted and likely you will not violate its owners rights by broadcasting it. But better double-check its legal status to avoid risks - we value our clients and wish your business flourish safe and sound.

Besides FTA video channels there are also a rather great amount of movies in the public domain. Some have their copyrights lapsed, some are royalty free by the will of their creators. A competitive list can be found at Openculture as well as on other websites. It not all boring or black-and-white vintage - a true gems can be found there like Cannibal! The Musical - a black comedy by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the makers of South Park, along with movies by Tarkovsky, Eisenstein and Kurosawa.

new_IPTV_provider

As you finalize the initial list of titles for broadcasting, start planning the hardware infrastructure for your brand new IPTV provider.

2. Infrastructure

2.1. Get the stream

A primary task for any IPTV setup is to get a multichannel stream via UDP for further transcoding by IPTV server. If you can find a reseller, that has already captured a satellite stream and distributes it via UDP for a reasonable price, you have a good chance to minimize your expenses and save some time, otherwise you have to capture the stream by your own means.

It requires a fine antenna (including multiswitches, signal amplifiers, cables, etc.), targeted at the satellite by its longitude, and a headend / receiver for descrambling and decoding - you have to buy a proprietary device from one of the manufacturers or build your own.

The receiver captures signal from satellite transponder (a 188 mbps MPTS - Multi Program Transport Stream) and serves the channels it holds. Average transponder provides up to 30 channels, both - FTA and premium.

If you decide to by a manufactured solution, there are a lot of options, the key characteristic is in number of channels served by a single unit (usually it varies from 2 to 16). The price also scales starting from 1K+ USD. It’s a good option if you are looking for a certified, fail-safe solution, that doesn’t require much skill for its setup.

transponder

You can find much more capable modular headend solutions. It can capture up to 24 transponders (comparing with 1-2 transponders in a single-unit receivers). But if an IPTV provider broadcasts premium channels, he has to descramblethem and it is a rather hardware-expensive process, that cuts channel capacity of the headend to 8-10 channels. It makes a headend an overpriced but powerless competitor of a PC.

cutting-edge technology

A PC for satellite signal capture doesn’t have to be a cutting-edge technology - an average server will do the job. For example, in our demo installation we use a Intel Xeon X5660 CPU with 16 Gb RAM. It holds 4 DVB-S/S2 TV Tuner cards by Digital Devices. Each card serves 8 transponders, up to 30 channels per transponder. It gives a tremendous cap of channels provided as a SPTS (Single Program Transport Stream) via UDP by a single server.

Single_Program_Transport_Stream

To complete signal capture job we use Astra software: it splits MPTS into multiple SPTS and allows to get them by separate IPs like:

  • udp://239.255.0.1:5500
  • udp://239.255.0.2:5500
  • and so on

2.2. Prepare the content

As soon as you managed to get a SPTS by UDP, you have to transcode it. Transcoding used to create substreams of different quality for all kind of needs, EPG extraction, watermarking and other jobs.

For transcoding you would need another PC with Flussonic Media Server on board. We use

2-CPU (Intel Xeon CPU E5-2620 v3 @ 2.40GHz) - 12 cores total, 64 Gb RAM and 4 Nvidia Quadro P4000 GPUs. But actual configuration depends on your actual load and channel list.

After youinstall Flussonic on your server, you have to configure the transcoder and define the parameters of each process.

configure_the_transcoder

As a result, Flussonic would provide multiple outputs for each program for any use case.

transcoder

2.3. Deliver the content

It is not a good practice to use a transcoding server as an edge, so we advise to build another Flussonic-powered server (8 core CPU and 32 GB RAM would do the trick) to handle restreaming: caching and distribution jobs. It would significantly lower transcoder load, so it could maintain its outstanding effectiveness and keep the whole infrastructure fail proof.

Another nice-to-have element is a Flussonic DVR server. It would help your IPTV business to satisfy subscribers expectations with such features as Timeshift, Catchup and other. It’s configuration is also rather flexible and expandable, defined mostly by business targets. This server can also hold files for VOD distribution, acting as massive archive for all content available in your IPTV service.

Finally you will need a server with middleware to control access rights, billing, statistics and other business-related issues. There is a huge market of IPTV middleware solutions and you are free to choose any that suits your needs. The middleware would provide your subscribers direct links to Flussonic restreamer and archive servers. In most cases this links would be served by the same middleware on client’s devices.

As the result, an average infrastructure for a new prominent IPTV provider should include:

  1. a DVB-S/S2 reciever or a server with tuner cards and appropriate capturing software
  2. a Flussonic server, acting as a transcoder
  3. a Flussonic server, acting as an archive / DVR
  4. an edge Flussonic server for restreaming
  5. a client-accessable middleware server for subscribers management and client-side interfaces

Actually you can build and setup all your new business technology in a day, with no effort and no need in third-party installation services or extra human resources engaged - Flussonic team is always on duty to help our customers build their technologically advanced businesses.