GB2469992A - Interactive TV with multiple content streams in a single data stream - Google Patents

Interactive TV with multiple content streams in a single data stream Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2469992A
GB2469992A GB0907202A GB0907202A GB2469992A GB 2469992 A GB2469992 A GB 2469992A GB 0907202 A GB0907202 A GB 0907202A GB 0907202 A GB0907202 A GB 0907202A GB 2469992 A GB2469992 A GB 2469992A
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United Kingdom
Prior art keywords
stream
content
streams
method according
user
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Withdrawn
Application number
GB0907202A
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GB0907202D0 (en
Inventor
Scott Morris Cooper
Volker Kibbel
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
BIANCA FISCHINGER
Original Assignee
Scott Morris Cooper
Volker Kibbel
Bianca Fischinger
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Application filed by Scott Morris Cooper, Volker Kibbel, Bianca Fischinger filed Critical Scott Morris Cooper
Priority to GB0907202A priority Critical patent/GB2469992A/en
Publication of GB0907202D0 publication Critical patent/GB0907202D0/en
Publication of GB2469992A publication Critical patent/GB2469992A/en
Application status is Withdrawn legal-status Critical

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L65/00Network arrangements or protocols for real-time communications
    • H04L65/40Services or applications
    • H04L65/4069Services related to one way streaming
    • H04L65/4084Content on demand
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04HBROADCAST COMMUNICATION
    • H04H20/00Arrangements for broadcast or for distribution combined with broadcast
    • H04H20/28Arrangements for simultaneous broadcast of plural pieces of information
    • H04H20/30Arrangements for simultaneous broadcast of plural pieces of information by a single channel
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L65/00Network arrangements or protocols for real-time communications
    • H04L65/60Media handling, encoding, streaming or conversion
    • H04L65/601Media manipulation, adaptation or conversion
    • H04L65/602Media manipulation, adaptation or conversion at the source
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L65/00Network arrangements or protocols for real-time communications
    • H04L65/60Media handling, encoding, streaming or conversion
    • H04L65/607Stream encoding details
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/20Servers specifically adapted for the distribution of content, e.g. VOD servers; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/23Processing of content or additional data; Elementary server operations; Server middleware
    • H04N21/235Processing of additional data, e.g. scrambling of additional data or processing content descriptors
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/20Servers specifically adapted for the distribution of content, e.g. VOD servers; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/23Processing of content or additional data; Elementary server operations; Server middleware
    • H04N21/236Assembling of a multiplex stream, e.g. transport stream, by combining a video stream with other content or additional data, e.g. inserting a URL [Uniform Resource Locator] into a video stream, multiplexing software data into a video stream; Remultiplexing of multiplex streams; Insertion of stuffing bits into the multiplex stream, e.g. to obtain a constant bit-rate; Assembling of a packetised elementary stream
    • H04N21/2365Multiplexing of several video streams
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/43Processing of content or additional data, e.g. demultiplexing additional data from a digital video stream; Elementary client operations, e.g. monitoring of home network, synchronizing decoder's clock; Client middleware
    • H04N21/434Disassembling of a multiplex stream, e.g. demultiplexing audio and video streams, extraction of additional data from a video stream; Remultiplexing of multiplex streams; Extraction or processing of SI; Disassembling of packetised elementary stream
    • H04N21/4347Demultiplexing of several video streams
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/43Processing of content or additional data, e.g. demultiplexing additional data from a digital video stream; Elementary client operations, e.g. monitoring of home network, synchronizing decoder's clock; Client middleware
    • H04N21/435Processing of additional data, e.g. decrypting of additional data, reconstructing software from modules extracted from the transport stream
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/43Processing of content or additional data, e.g. demultiplexing additional data from a digital video stream; Elementary client operations, e.g. monitoring of home network, synchronizing decoder's clock; Client middleware
    • H04N21/438Interfacing the downstream path of the transmission network originating from a server, e.g. retrieving MPEG packets from an IP network
    • H04N21/4383Accessing a communication channel, e.g. channel tuning
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/80Generation or processing of content or additional data by content creator independently of the distribution process; Content per se
    • H04N21/85Assembly of content; Generation of multimedia applications
    • H04N21/858Linking data to content, e.g. by linking an URL to a video object, by creating a hotspot
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N5/00Details of television systems
    • H04N5/44Receiver circuitry
    • H04N5/445Receiver circuitry for displaying additional information
    • H04N5/44582Receiver circuitry for displaying additional information the additional information being controlled by a remote control apparatus
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N5/00Details of television systems
    • H04N5/44Receiver circuitry
    • H04N5/445Receiver circuitry for displaying additional information
    • H04N5/44591Receiver circuitry for displaying additional information the additional information being displayed in a separate window, e.g. by using splitscreen display
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N7/00Television systems
    • H04N7/08Systems for the simultaneous or sequential transmission of more than one television signal, e.g. additional information signals, the signals occupying wholly or partially the same frequency band, e.g. by time division
    • H04N7/0806Systems for the simultaneous or sequential transmission of more than one television signal, e.g. additional information signals, the signals occupying wholly or partially the same frequency band, e.g. by time division the signals being two or more video signals

Abstract

TV multimedia broadcast system 40 with a plurality of content streams transmitted to a user, wherein a first audiovisual stream 41 has a graphic 45 superimposed on it when a second audiovisual stream is available, and the second stream is displayed when a user input occurs. The graphic indicates at least one navigation option. The streams may be encoded and compressed in a single data stream which can be decoded for simultaneous or selected display. A plurality of second streams with related graphics 42,45 may be superimposed concurrently or during non-overlapping time periods. Coloured graphics 43 may correspond to the red, green, yellow and blue remote control buttons. A graphic on the second stream may allow display of a different second stream or a return to the main channel. Second streams may be received and stored in advance of their viewing time period. An interactive stream may allow the purchase of goods or services. Alternatively, the method comprises receiving the streams and available time period, displaying the first stream and then displaying the second stream in response to a predetermined user operation.

Description

Methods, Apparatus and Computer Programs for Transmitting and Receiving Multistreamed Media Content in Real Time, Media Content Package The present invention relates to methods, apparatus and computer programs for broadcasting and receiving multistreamed media content choices in real time and to media content packages for broadcast.

Following the development of high-bandwidth, consumer-accessible communication channels, such as satellite broadcasting, cable television, digital terrestrial broadcasting and digital subscriber line (DSL) modems, it has been possible to deliver to a viewer multiple channels of video information simultaneously. This has been used to deliver the same content, e.g. a film, on multiple channels with a time delay, e.g. 15 minutes, between channels so that a viewer can start viewing the film at a desired time and can take a break and resume watching on a delayed channel without missing anything. Multiple channels have also been used to show major sports events, with one channel showing a traditionally edited, or highlights program and other channels providing continuous coverage from one camera, e.g. an in-car camera in a motor racing event or a touch-line camera, or a sub-event within the main event, e.g. a track event within the Olympics. Also, broadcasters promoting a major broadcast, such as a "reality" programme, have on occasion used subsidiary channels to show more background, such as interviews and footage not shown in the main programme.

Some digital channels also have so-called interactive services which enable the viewer to access additional information in a text & graphics format, to play simple games, to subscribe to pay-per-view programmes and in some cases to view programmes on and on-demand basis. A so-called back-channel, a bi-directional connection between the viewer's set-top box and the broadcaster over a telephone line, is often used for transmission of user preferences but generally does not have sufficient bandwidth for programme content. These interactive services are sometimes regarded as an extension of teletext services in which pages of text and graphics are broadcast cyclically in the vertical blanking intervals of an analogue video signal.

However, existing multi-channel services do not exploit the full potential of available communication channels and lack user-friendly navigation arrangements to allow the user to view the content as desired.

According to the present invention there is provided a method of transmitting multiple streams of content to a user, the method comprising the steps of: preparing a first stream of audiovisual content; preparing a second stream of audiovisual content; superimposing on the first stream for a predetermined period thereof a graphic element to signal the availability of the second stream; transmitting the first stream having superimposed the graphic element; transmitting the second stream; transmitting instructions interpretable by a receiver to cause the receiver to display the second stream in response to the occurrence of a predetermined operation by the user.

The present invention also provides a method of receiving audiovisual content streams, the method comprising the steps of: receiving a first content stream; receiving instructions specifying: at least one time period, at least one predetermined operation performable by a user, and at least one second content stream; receiving at least one second content stream displaying the first content stream; detecting whether the predetermined operation is performed; and displaying the second content stream in response to a detection that the predetermined operation has been performed.

Further the present invention provides a media content package comprising: a plurality of content streams, each content stream comprising at least one graphic element indicating at least one navigation option and visible for a predetermined period of time; and instructions interpretable by a receiver to cause the receiver to display another stream in response to the occurrence of a predetermined operation by the user.

Thus, the present invention enables fufler exploitation of the capabilities of broadband digital communication channels whilst also providing easy navigation options to the user. In particular, the present invention can provide six or more content streams which the user can navigate between by referring to on-screen graphics superimposed on a programme video stream and correlating to buttons of a remote control.

In a preferred method, one content stream contains the main content; it is broadcast in real-time and in a linear fashion and is the backbone of the navigation options presented to the user. The other content streams contain ancillary content, in general related to the main content, directly or indirectly.

Another desirable feature of the invention is that the first and the or all second content streams are compressed, e.g. using a compression scheme such as MPEG-4, sufficiently to allow them to be broadcast in a single transmission channel, e.g. of bandwidth about 1.5-2 Mb/s, that would conventionally be allocated to a single linear channel. The different streams are interleaved in the encoding process and use the same timecodes so that they can be decoded to provide a plurality of simultaneous content streams.

In a particular embodiment of the invention, one or more of the content streams, in particular the second content streams, can be communicated to the user in a non-linear or non-real-time fashion, for example they may be sent in response to a user request or transmitted in advance and stored in the user's receiver.

An advantageous use of one or more of the ancillary content streams is as a so-called "Buy Page" which allows the user to purchase products or services, such as recordings of the main or related content, licences to record or download content and/or view pay-per-view events, books and other merchandise. Such a page is preferably directly available to the user throughout the broadcast or viewing of the main content and alternative streams and preferably by a single button press.

The present invention will be described below with reference to the following description of exemplary embodiments and the accompanying schematic drawings, in which: Figure 1 is an overview of the content delivery path of a method according to the invention; Figure 2 is an overview of a process for making a content package according to an embodiment of the invention; Figure 3 is a diagram showing the relationships between different streams in an example content package according to an embodiment of the present invention; Figure 4 illustrates on-screen navigation graphics according to an embodiment of the invention; Figures 5a and b illustrate options for navigation between streams in a content package according to an embodiment of the invention; Figure 6 illustrates options for navigation in a display mode according to an embodiment of the invention in which multiple content streams are display simultaneously; Figures 7a and 7b show alternative screen layouts useable in the display mode of Figure 6; and Figure 8 illustrates the process for effecting a stream change request in an embodiment of the invention.

In the various drawings, like parts are indicated by like references.

Figure 1 illustrates the overall content delivery path of an embodiment of the invention. The original content to be broadcast is S created by a production unit 1 and may involve any or all of "live'1 post-produced material, live to broadcast material, traditionally shot material and archive material. The content is audiovisual and may be provided on any desired medium, for example on film, tape or disk, and encoded in any desired format or coding method, for example PAL, NTSC, SECAM, MPEG2, MPEG3, MPEG4, etc.. In some cases, an outside broadcast truck 2 may be employed.

The original content is supplied to a post-production unit 3 to be converted into the multistream format and thence, or directly in parallel if a live broadcast, to the broadcaster 4. The broadcaster 4 broadcasts the content, or at least components thereof to a user's set-top box 8, which may be connected to a television screen 9 for viewing and/or a recording device 10, such as a hard-disk based personal video recorder (PVR) or virtual storage arrangement. Of course, the set-top box functionality may be incorporated in a television and/or a recording device and the functions of set-top box, recorder and television may be performed by a suitably equipped and programmed general-purpose computer.

As will be described below, components of the multistream content package may be delivered by a non-broadcast communications link such as a so-called back-channel 11 which connects the set-top box 8 to a content management system 5 via a telecommunications network 7.

Preferably the back-channel 11 has a high bandwidth, sufficient to deliver audiovisual content of acceptable quality in real-time. However and in any event, if a sufficient bandwidth is not available the back-channel 11 may be used to deliver content in advance of viewing or for delivery of text-based content, for bi-directional communication for interactive content streams, and for transmission of control data. The back-channel preferably employs digital subscriber line (DSL) technology. Content for delivery via the back-channel is provided to the content management system 5 by the post-production unit 3.

The back-channel 11 may also connect the set-top box with a customer relationship management system 6, which maintains subscription records, user preferences and the like and may deal with billing for subscriptions, pay-per-view content and other purchases made using embodiments of the invention. As described further below, the customer relationship management system 6 controls access to the additional content provided by the present invention by validating user requests. The functions of the customer relationship management system 6 and content management system 5 may be performed by one or more servers which may be located at the same or different place.

Creation of a multistream content package according to an embodiment of the invention is shown in Figure 2. Multiple audiovisual feeds are provided to the editing system 31. In the figure these are shown as provided by video cameras VC1 to VC4, however it will be appreciated that each feed may be edited footage from multiple cameras, animations, archive material or a combination thereof. Interactive content, for example a "buy page" to be described further below, and graphic elements to guide navigation, also to be described further below, are provided by a graphics unit 33, which may be connected to a database 32 of predefined elements, style guides and/or templates. The interactive content and navigation guides are combined with the audiovisual feeds according to timing data 34 to generate the multistream content package which is then distributed to the broadcaster 4 and content management system 5. Addition of the interactive content and navigation guides may be performed before, in parallel with, or after conventional editing processes, for example audio dubbing and colour balancing. The package 35 may be encoded using different formats for the broadcaster 4 and content management system 5.

Figure 3 illustrates a multistream media content package according to an embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, the package 35 comprises six streams of audio-visual data. Stream 1 is a main stream which forms the backbone or reference for the whole package. Preferably, it contains a coherent narrative that can be viewed linearly on its own satisfactorily. Streams 2 to 6 then contain additional or ancillary content that builds on the content of the main stream and can be selectively accessed by the user as desired to provide a richer viewing experience. However, this is not essential. Navigation between the streams is in this embodiment achieved via the red, green, blue and yellow coloured buttons that are provided on almost all remote controls for set-top boxes and like devices.

Stream 2 is in this embodiment an interactive content page, for example a buy page via which the user can purchase content and/or merchandise preferably related to the main content or one of the other streams, and is available throughout the course of the main content or any other viewed stream and always accessible therefrom by user operation of the red button, for example.

Streams 3 to 6 carry clips of additional material that build upon aspects of the main narrative and are accessed by user operation of one of the colour-coded buttons green, blue and yellow. The clips may be of any desired length, from just a few seconds to the whole of the remainder of the main narrative. In Figure 3, the clips are labelled by the colour of the button to be used to access them and an index number. In an embodiment of the invention, each clip is accessible when viewing the main stream by pressing the respective coloured button at the relevant time. To indicate this, a corresponding navigation guide is displayed, superimposed on the main stream, during a specific period. The specific period may, but need not, correspond to the duration of the respective clip. A limited number of buttons can be used to provide access to a much greater number of additional clips. Thus clip Gm 1 is accessed by pressing the green button when a navigation guide referring to the green button is first displayed whereas clip Gm 2 is accessed when a second navigation guide referring to the green button is displayed, and so on.

Multiple navigation guides referring to different buttons may be present on screen simultaneously.

Whilst the presence of on-screen navigation guides in the main and alternative streams correlates to the existence of specific content in the alternative streams, it is not necessary to restrict user navigation options so that a user may switch streams even when no corresponding navigation guide is on screen. In the preferred embodiment, in which all streams are compressed and interleaved into a single data stream, the user will automatically be taken to the alternative stream at the same time point. However, in the event that the content package of the invention is delivered on a random access storage medium, such as a DVD(TM) or Blu-ray disc(TM), or the clips of the alternative stream are obtained on an on-demand basis via the back channel, the time point in the viewed stream at which the user requested an alternative stream may be reference to determine which content is next viewed.

Portions of streams 3 to 6 that are not occupied by clips -indicated by cross-hatching in Figure 3 -may be blank but are preferably occupied by stock footage, advertising, infomercials, or the like so that a user staying within a stream beyond the duration of a clip is not presented with a blank screen.

The different content streams are preferably encoded in a compressed format, such as MPEG2 or MPEG4, and interleaved so that they can be broadcast simultaneously, preferably in a single broadcast channel (e.g. corresponding to a single frequency band or satellite transponder) that would normally be assigned to a single linear channel.

The different streams of content contain common time codes so that the decoded streams can be displayed simultaneously -e.g. side-by-side -or selectively even when received substantially in real time by a receiver not having storage capacity significantly greater than required for the decoding process. Arrangements for this are discussed further below.

In alternative embodiments, the main stream may be broadcast on a conventional broadcast channel with the additional streams being delivered via the back channel 11 on demand. The complete content may also be recorded on a storage medium, such as a DVD, with a menu structure emulating the navigation options of the broadcast content package.

An example of an on-screen navigation guide 40 is shown in Figure 4. Superimposed on the main picture 41 is a bar 42 containing a graphical element 43, such as a coloured circle, button or lozenge, and a text message 44 giving a brief instruction to the user as to what operation to perform and what will thereby be accessed. For example, over a brief clip of two people talking the navigation guide 40 contains a green circle, matching the green button, and the message "Press Green to view full interview". Pressing the green button then takes the user to a clip showing a fuller interview. The content of the message may be generic, e.g. "press for more information", or tailored to the clip content as indicated. It will be appreciated that other buttons already available on a remote control, such as numbers or up, down, left and right arrows, or specifically provided on a remote control may be used instead of coloured buttons. In that case, the graphical element 43 is replaced by a symbol corresponding to that labelling the respective button. A second graphical element 45 directing the user to access the second stream, in this embodiment a "Buy Page" is preferably also present on screen iii all streams at all times.

Navigation amongst the content streams from the point of view of the user is described below with reference to Figures 5a and 5b and an example content package. It is to be noted that the order of options in this example is different than in the example of Figure 3, reflecting the versatility of the present invention. Also Figures 5a and Sb show only a -10 -few possible paths through the content package of the invention as examples of its possible use.

Initially the user views 29 the main stream, which is the entry point for all access to the content. By way of an initial or superimposed menu, the user may be given the option 33 to record the content package, e.g. to a personal video recorder. This may be controlled by digital rights management software requiring the user to purchase a licence, either one-off or by subscription, to record the content and enter an ID code to enable recording.

As the main stream progresses, represented by the central path through Figure 5a and 5b, the viewer is offered various options 30a-e, by on-screen graphics as described above, to enter alternative content.

Selection of one of the options causes the alternative stream to be displayed, either in full screen mode or in a picture-in-picture or picture-out-picture display, with either the main stream or alternative stream forming the sub-picture.

In the shown example, the first option 30a offered to the user is to select a stream by pressing the green button on his/her remote control.

The user can then view the associated clip, which is contained in the green stream of the broadcast package, to the end at which point two options present themselves: the user can return to the main stream at the current point or continue to view the green stream, which will revert to fill-in advertising or the like. At this point, or indeed at any point during the green stream, if the user has a device such as a set-top box or personal video recorder with sufficient recording capacity, he/she may be provided with the ability to pause the stream, rewind it to view it again.

At a later point the user is provided with the option 30b to enter the yellow stream and later still the option 30c to enter the blue stream.

Figures 5a and 5b show these streams being viewed to the end, through several clips and advertising fit I material. The user does however have the options of returning to the main stream and/or diverting 36 directly to -11 -the buy page (red stream) at any time, and may be prompted to do so by additional messages at the end of clips in the alternative streams.

An option open to the content package creator is to mirror the options provided in the main stream in the alternative stream so that, for example, when the yellow option is displayed in the main stream to indicate the availability of a clip in the yellow stream, the same option is displayed in the green and blue streams.

An alternative approach to viewing the content package of the invention is referred to herein as a "brand page" and is described with reference to Figure 6. If the user selects 37 the brand page, an initial layout is displayed. This comprises the main stream displayed in a large format and the alternative streams -red, green yellow and blue -displayed as smaller pictures in or around it, as shown by way of an example in Figure 7. The alternative streams may be displayed as picture-in-pictures or picture-out-pictures. If the main stream is in a format with 4:3 aspect ratio and a display of aspect ratio 14:9 or 16:9 is used, the main picture may be full size and the alternative streams displayed adjacent it in the otherwise blank area of the screen. Initially, the audio replay will correspond to the main stream. User options are then to select audio relating to an alternative stream, whilst leaving the display in its in initial format, or to select another stream for the main picture, with the main stream then becoming a sub-picture. This display format is possible because the main and alternative streams are compressed and interleaved into a single data stream, using common timecodes.

Figure 8 illustrates a process for delivering content in response to a user request. The process is initiated by the user pressing a button 12, e.g. a coloured button, on the remote control 11 when a corresponding graphic is present on screen. The button press is signalled to the set-top-box 8 which interprets it as a request for a different content stream. A remote access request message 47 is then created sent to customer -12 -relations management system 6 via the broadcaster 4 and/or the telecommunications network 7. The customer relations management system determines whether the request can be allowed, referring to data on the user, for example account status and/or age, for age restricted material. The remote access request message 47 may therefore contain information identifying the actual user, e.g. obtained via biometric information or input of an ID code, as well as the set-top-box or functionally equivalent device from which the request issued. If the request is allowed, an access confirmation message 48 and stream request message 49 (which may be combined) are sent by the customer relations management system 6 to the content management system 5, which initiates the stream delivery process 50 in response. In the stream delivery process, the desired content is delivered to the set-top-box 8 via the telecommunications network 7 and/or broadcaster 4. In the case that all streams, or at least the requested stream, is broadcast interleaved with the main stream, the stream delivery process may comprise delivery of a key allowing decoding and/or decryption of the requested stream. The requested stream is then displayed on the user's display device 9.

In the event that the access request is denied, an access denied message 51 is created by the customer relations management system 6 and forwarded to the set-top-box via the telecommunications network 7 and/or broadcaster 4. The set-top-box then generates a display message indicating that access to the requested screen is denied.

The present invention has been described above with reference to a specific embodiment. It is to be understood that the above description is not limiting and that the present invention is defined by the appended claims.

Claims (30)

  1. -13 -CLAIMS1. A method of transmitting multiple streams of content to a user, the method comprising the steps of: preparing a first stream of audiovisual content; preparing a second stream of audiovisual content; superimposing on the first stream for a predetermined period thereof a graphic element to signal the availability of the second stream; transmitting the first stream having superimposed the graphic element; transmitting the second stream; transmitting instructions interpretable by a receiver to cause the receiver to display the second stream in response to the occurrence of a predetermined operation by the user.
  2. 2. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the first and second streams are encoded in a compressed format and combined into a single data stream whereby the single data stream can be decoded to allow simultaneous or selected display of one or more of said content streams.
  3. 3. A method according to claim 2 wherein the first and second content streams contain common timecodes.
  4. 4. A method according to any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein: the step of preparing a second stream comprises preparing a plurality of second streams; the step of superimposing comprises superimposing a plurality of graphic elements, each corresponding to one of the plurality of second streams; the step of transmitting the second stream comprises transmitting the plurality of second streams; and the step of transmitting instructions comprises transmitting instructions interpretable by a receiver to cause the receiver to display one of the second streams in response to the occurrence of a respective predetermined operation by the user.
  5. 5. A method according to claim 4, wherein at least two of the plurality of graphic elements are superimposed on the first stream concurrently.
  6. 6. A method according to claim 4 or 5, wherein at least two of the plurality of graphic elements are superimposed on the first stream during non-overlapping time periods.
  7. 7. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the or a graphic element is colour-coded and the predetermined operation consists of pressing a correspondingly coloured button.
  8. 8. A method according to claim 7, wherein the or each graphic element is coloured red, green, yellow or blue.
  9. 9. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the or a graphic element is a number, letter or symbol and the predetermined operation consists of pressing a button bearing the corresponding number, letter or symbol.
  10. 10. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the step of transmitting the second stream comprises receiving a request from a receiver and transmitting the second stream or a part thereof in response to the request.
    -15 -
  11. 11. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the step of transmitting the first stream comprises broadcasting the first stream and the step of transmitting the second stream comprises transmitting at least part of the second stream over a non-broadcast communications channel.
  12. 12. A method according to claim 11 wherein the non-broadcast communications channel comprises a cable TV access line or a digital subscriber line.
  13. 13. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, further comprising the steps of: superimposing on the second stream for a predetermined period thereof at least one second graphic element; and transmitting instructions interpretable by the receiver to cause the receiver to display the first stream or a different second stream in response to the occurrence of a predetermined operation by the user.
  14. 14. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the second stream comprises an interactive stream allowing a user to purchase goods or services.
  15. 15. A method of receiving audiovisual content streams, the method comprising the steps of: receiving a first content stream; receiving instructions specifying: at least one time period, at least one predetermined operation performable by a user, and at least one second content stream; receiving at least one second content stream displaying the first content stream; detecting whether the predetermined operation is performed by the -16 -user; and displaying the second content stream in response to a detection that the predetermined operation has been performed.
  16. 16. A method according to claim 15 wherein: the instructions specify a plurality of time periods, a plurality of predetermined operations and a plurality of second content streams each corresponding to one of the predetermined operations; the step of detecting comprises detecting which of the predetermined operation has been performed; and the step of displaying comprises displaying the second content stream corresponding to the predetermined operation that has been performed.
  17. 17. A method according to claim 15 or 16, wherein the or each predetermined operation comprises pressing a specified button.
  18. 18. A method according to any one of claims 15 to 17, wherein the step of receiving at least one second content stream comprises: transmitting to a server a request for a second content stream; and receiving the requested second content stream from the server.
  19. 19. A method according to any one of claims 15 to 17, wherein the step of receiving at least one second content stream is performed in advance of the respective time period; and the method further comprises storing the second content stream at least until the respective predetermined operation is performed.
  20. 20. A method according to any one of claims 15 to 19 wherein the second content stream comprises an interactive stream allowing a user to purchase goods or services; and the method further comprises -17 -transmitting an order for goods or services to a merchant in response to a user instruction.
  21. 21. A method according to any one of claims 15 to 20 wherein the first and second streams are encoded in a compressed format and combined into a single data stream, the method comprising the further steps of decoding the single data stream and displaying the first and second streams simultaneously.
  22. 22. A computer program comprising program code means that, when executed by a processing device, instructs the processing device to perform a method according to any one of claims 1 to 14.
  23. 23. A computer program comprising program code means that, when executed by a processing device, instructs the processing device to perform a method according to any one of claims 15 to 21.
  24. 24. A computer program according to claim 23 configured to be loaded into a receiver as an upgrade.
  25. 25. A transmitter programmed to perform a method according to any one of claims 1 to 14.
  26. 26. A receiver programmed to perform a method according to any one of claims 15 to 21.
  27. 27. A set-top box comprising a receiver according to claim 26.
  28. 28. A display device incorporating a receiver according to claim 26.-18 -
  29. 29. A media content package comprising: a plurality of content streams, each content stream comprising at least one graphic element indicating at least one navigation option and visible for a predetermined period of time; and instructions interpretable by a receiver to cause the receiver to display another stream in response to the occurrence of a predetermined operation by the user.
  30. 30. A media content package according claim 29, wherein the first and second streams are encoded in a compressed format and combined into a single data stream whereby the single data stream can be decoded to allow simultaneous or selected display of one or more of said content streams.14. A media content package according to claim 29 or 30, wherein the first and second content streams contain common timecodes.
GB0907202A 2009-04-27 2009-04-27 Interactive TV with multiple content streams in a single data stream Withdrawn GB2469992A (en)

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PCT/GB2010/000843 WO2010125339A1 (en) 2009-04-27 2010-04-27 Methods, apparatus and computer programs for transmitting and receiving multistreamed media content in real time, media content package

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GB2483125B (en) * 2011-02-25 2012-09-26 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd Media system
CN103856784B (en) * 2012-12-03 2019-02-05 联想(北京)有限公司 Data sending, receiving method and electronic equipment

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