The Sponsors Perspective: Video Streaming Strategies & Challenges In A Rapidly Changing Environment

Entertainment over the internet has gained significant traction over the last years. For this reason, companies have developed new business models in order to retain customers, by meeting their emerging needs and studying the behavior patterns of online streaming consumption.

This article was first published as part of Essential Guide: Intelligent CDN For Broadcasters - download the complete Essential Guide HERE.

This new way of consuming content has been driven by the rapid adoption of smart devices, like smartphones, smart TVs, laptops, and desktops. The viewing of content on these devices has changed the habits and expectations of users. New viewers are unlikely to sit in front of their TV waiting for their favorite show to start. They want to watch their preferred programs wherever and whenever they want.

This pressure has led traditional broadcasting companies to create their own online platform offerings, as well as produce their own content in order to engage viewers. By embracing the internet approach, many broadcasters are now fully committed to the online formats transitioning.

Streaming Services Need To Deliver A Flawless Experience
A high-quality delivery is fundamental, as subscribers are used to turning on their TV and getting the same, consistent quality they’ve always gotten. Subscribers will be looking for that broadcast-like quality of experience when viewing content across their device, and for this reason a flawless streaming is essential to their overall experience.

In addition, with time-sensitive video content such as sports, news, or pure OTT content like esports and interactive shows, viewers expect to watch events as they unfold with no tolerance for loading time or buffering.

Content Delivery Networks, with their current infrastructure layouts, are unable to guarantee adequate quality when dealing with large numbers of users. It has emerged the need for new technological architectures capable of delivering the desired viewing experience.

Low Latency Has Become More Important Than Ever In Streaming Services
When streaming over the internet started to become part of the broadcast workflow, the latency of a minute or more was not uncommon, and was mostly accepted. At the time, streaming was not used for live events or online gaming competitions, so high latency was not a problem. As new habits developed, and the entertainment industries shifted business models from linear broadcasting to IP based streaming for on-demand and live events, the lowering of latency became a must.

Antonio Corrado, CEO, MainStreaming.

Antonio Corrado, CEO, MainStreaming.

Reducing latency has been an ever-evolving quest for the streaming industry, and achieving this would allow business models of premium live events and gaming to flourish. This is only possible with a technology specifically designed for online streaming, that provides a resilient and reliable service, and consequently a high quality of experience for viewers.

Sustainability, A Factor To Consider When Choosing A Provider
Digital video files are getting heavier as viewers today expect to watch their content in high definition, at any time and on any device, resulting in an enormous amount of energy needed to keep data centers cool and running. The current network infrastructure uses an unprecedented amount of energy that is highly inefficient and detrimental to the environment.

Data centers are essentially the factories of the information age; their 24/7 operation makes online browsing, streaming and communication possible, but delivering all this data requires a tremendous amount of electricity. Significant improvements to IT hardware and data center energy performance must be made to keep up with the market’s requests without causing harm to the environment.

To watch a video on a device, the content must be encoded. The technology used to achieve this must be capable of parallel computing to encode a video in a few seconds/minutes for a quick delivery to viewers. It is essential for broadcasting media and gaming companies to shorten the processing time for content publication, especially for sports, news and gaming, as they must be uploaded online in real-time. The process for uploading an on-demand video has to be simplified as much as possible, utilizing a parallel computing system with innovative technology that sends out packets to multiple locations, where they are encoded and then brought back together to generate the complete video.

It is important to develop technologies that can reduce energy consumption. Given the numbers that must be managed online, it is necessary to innovate, while implementing a green approach. In short, not only does the traditional approach not guarantee a smooth and perfect delivery but, because of the infrastructure currently in place, it leads to an excessive amount of energy consumption.

An Intelligent Media Delivery Platform
Flawless delivery, latency reduction, and sustainability are the main distribution goals that an intelligent platform needs to achieve.

MainStreaming’s iMDP is a single integrated platform, based on proprietary technologies and developed specifically for video content, that manages the entire streaming workflow. Intelligent algorithms allow for a constant assessment of the network conditions and identify the most efficient data path, by making decisions based on a continuous flow of metrics related to the Quality of Experience of each viewer. Its features grant content owners full transparency, control and scalability. Furthermore, the iMDP minimizes its carbon footprint by providing more efficient network resource utilization.

The Challenging Demands Of Streaming Services Scalability
The iMDP provides highly-customizable streaming services that adapts itself to accommodate the most demanding live and OnDemand events. This is possible thanks to an intelligent and dynamic network infrastructure that routes the traffic to the best path to reach viewers, ensuring the highest quality of experience.

There are three service options included in the iMDP, which are important to analyze when determining what is best for your streaming workflow: Public, Private and Hybrid.

The Public option is a ready-to-use, all-inclusive, end-to-end media delivery service. It provides full control over the streaming process while supporting the growth of subscribers and meeting the needs of peak distribution and monthly volume use.

It is possible to customize the distribution network structure with a Private option, based on a decentralized resource approach. This service is created for the management of high-volume traffic for large-scale customers. It allows customers to deploy dedicated nodes within ISP infrastructures or dedicated peering and have a financially sustainable solution able to manage millions of users.

The third option available is a Hybrid service, which is a mix of the Private and Public service. One or the other can be used according to your viewers’ location.

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