By Matthew Goldman, SVP Technology, MediaKind
Thanks to the rapid and continual uptake in OTT services, the era of broadcast-quality live streaming is fast approaching. If you think of any form of live entertainment (sports, esports, music concert, the list goes on), that’s when consumer expectations are heightened ten-fold. The challenge of course, is to realize these expectations. For broadcasters and service providers, that means delivering the content in the highest possible picture quality, with concurrent scalability and of course, at the lowest possible latency. When it comes to live events, nothing else will do.
The media industry has been talking about low latency for adaptive bitrate (ABR) content delivery for quite some time. But while it may have been a long time coming, it’s now taking off in a big way! Widespread adoption of ABR streaming represents a significant step change in the overall quality of experience. Compared to the buffering levels that many consumers have been forced to put up with to date, the temporary reductions in resolution are barely perceptible to the user with effective ABR streaming. This is because client devices are now intelligent enough to adapt to the varying network conditions. In terms of bandwidth, this means media operators can provision for average levels of consumption, rather than focusing on peaks. However, the challenges don’t end there. Once multiple ABR clients emerge in the home, competition for available bandwidth begins.
ABR technology was originally designed to enable the delivery of on-demand streamed content without experiencing the buffering delays that were so often previously associated with streaming over the internet and so often destroyed the quality of experience for consumers. For on-demand services, service providers determined the level of image quality they needed for practical delivery over various available network bandwidth scenarios and at what scale, using cloud technologies to facilitate the massive scaling required. Such services remain popular as they can easily be updated and continue to offer a rich on-demand library for end users. However, for live events, “broadcast” quality (very low) latency is critical . Without this, popular live content over the internet will not have as good an experience as with conventional live TV.
New techniques and protocols in ABR technology have now emerged which are helping to enhance the management of resources, augment and scale video headends, and to optimize and lower latency. This means we can now greatly reduce end-to-end latency and enable quick, seamless delivery of high value content. As announced at IBC last year, we have developed an optimized AV solution that addresses the layers of delay that cause high glass-to-glass latency in OTT streaming and ABR content from 45-60 seconds to just 3-7 seconds. This reduction in latency means consumers can see live content as close to real time as possible. You can learn more about that here.
So, with the increasing demand for live TV on OTT streaming, how can the media industry meet expectations for live content using current architectures? To learn more about the new techniques and protocols in ABR technology, join me next Wednesday, May 27 2020, as I deliver an in-depth webinar titled ’From On-demand to Live: The Evolution of ABR technology’, which takes place at 10:00 ET/15:00 BST/16:00 CET.
During the session we will cover:
I hope you will be able to join me on May 27! Register Now