For broadcasters, to deliver digital radio in a multi-platform and consistent way is becoming a challenge: there are many devices — each with different operating systems, formats and content handling. This fragmentation runs from handheld to desktop to anywhere digital radio can be listened to. Next to a multitude of devices and formats, broadcasters face the concern of supporting multi-platform consumption without compromising content security or network efficiencies. Protocols used currently for streaming radio for example Shoutcast and Flash are both proprietary, both need a stateful connection (which impairs truly large scale use) and both are old: no real innovation for over a decade. Looking at recent developments in digital video delivery where ABR delivery over HTTP has become dominant, it becomes clear the same is required for digital radio: there is a growing need for multi bitrate digital radio streaming delivered over HTTP in all formats, from HDS to Smooth to HLS to DASH — adding protection when required.
Early 2013, BBC and RTL started a proof of concept for HTTP ABR digital radio delivery: one source to all formats, all devices with the intent to deploy a full workflow including redundant time-aligned encoders, resilient ingest/orgin and cloud services (e.g. AWS) plus scaled delivery through CDNs. From the proof of concept it was realized early on that standardization as for instance a DASH Audio only specification including ingest, streaming and playout but also addressing in-stream meta data (track, artist or other information) is key to broad acceptance. Such a specification is under discussion and a proposal to join further development will be put forward to EBU and DASH-IF.
Any radio station in the world can benefit from the best quality audio with truly scalable delivery to the widest audience possible.
BBC iPlayer and RTL France run Unified Radio with the aim to fully replace the current workflow in the shortest time possible.