As the global demand for online video continues to explode, enterprises must find new media streaming solutions in order to provide the video streaming services that this growing online audience demands. In this article we’ll discuss modern video streaming challenges and how you can overcome them, to deliver the best possible end-user experience.
Despite the massive advancements in streaming technology over the past two decades, there are specific hurdles that the industry continues to face. In particular, bandwidth limitations, latency issues, and device compatibility challenges prevent viewers from experiencing seamless video streaming.
In addition to a growing selection of services, the convergence encompasses advances in streaming video devices and TVs, fast and reliable Internet connections, the popularity of watching TV on smartphones and tablets, and a growing supply of high-quality movies and series for every imaginable viewing preferences.
User expectations are growing daily: audiences want to be able to access the highest quality video on any device, in any location – without waiting.
Streaming providers require solutions that enable them to:
- reach audiences reliably where they are
- scale quickly as needed, because they never know when a particular bit of video content will go viral
- intelligently adjust to dynamic network environments and deliver the highest viewing quality possible, in any format
And they need streaming media solutions that will get around the realities of latency, congestion and packet loss on the Internet, because users won’t tolerate slow page loads or interrupted videos.
The essentials of high-quality video streaming services
These are the key characteristics of video streaming:
- It is possible to start playback at any point of the video without having to wait for the full download. Playback is almost immediate
- Bandwidth saving because only the video that is being watched (plus a small buffer) is transferred to the users.
- Better protection for your videos, because the video file is not stored in the users´s computer; therefore, it is more difficult to copy.
Video streaming can’t be done without without a CDN with a streaming support. If you have breaking concerns news or live events, you’re probably going to want to live stream it.
Outages, slow clouds, and CDN issues — what looks like buffering or stalled screens to viewers —is the thing that will annoy users and it will probably cause user abandonment and loss of revenue.
As audiences grow, content distributors need a way to ensure seamless, high-quality delivery. To scale globally while improving customer satisfaction, you need a way to optimize traffic management intelligently with user-by-user, second-by-second granularity.
Real user measurement (real-time pulse of user experience, even in sparsely-served regions), real-time server health, and third party metrics (to guide and monitor efficient use of bandwidth resources) give you an essential level of control.
Online video and audio streaming is made possible through a wide range of technologies:
- HTTP download, which enables playback only once the entire file has been downloaded
- HTTP progressive download, which allows end users to view a video before the download has completed, with the stream continuing in the background. This is ideal for on-demand viewing
- Adaptive bitrate. This enables the bitrate of mobile video to be dynamically altered depending on device and the connection speed. This is achieved by separating video files into multiple 2-4 second indexed segments. The quality of each segment is then dynamically altered. The most popular protocols used today are Apple HTTP Live Streaming, Adobe HTTP Dynamic Streaming for Flash and Microsoft IIS Smooth Streaming
- Support for the playback of multiple file types, including high definition media, H.264/AAC, MP4, MOV, MKV, WMV and many more
- P2P delivery, which facilitates the delivery of video files between end users’ computers, preventing server and network bottlenecks whilst further improving download speeds
Using a Multi-CDN setup to improve the quality and stability of your streaming services
There are multiple variables to consider on which CDN to go with:
- What is the geographic area of the users that will be consuming the video?
- Will the video be Live, Linear, or VOD?
- Will you need the dynamic encoding capabilities and chunking to an adaptive bit stream? Or are you simply reverse proxying to your existing origin server to pick up the content?
- Do you need digital rights management for that video content?
- Will you be able to monetize from that content, by triggering commercial insertion points from ad decision partners?
- Do you have to integrate to an existing video player across many different device types?
Traditional CDNs all work the same way – they deploy lots of HTTP servers throughout the world and cache (or store) content (images, text, videos, etc.) on these servers. The idea is to move the content physically closer to end users (no matter where they are in the world) so that the content can be more quickly downloaded to such end users. However, no single CDN can guarantee 100% uptime.
By using a multi-CDN approach you get 100% guaranteed uptime (if one CDN provider has downtime issues, you use another one).
Adaptive media delivery – solution for video streaming challenges
GlobalDots’ Adaptive Media Delivery is optimized for Adaptive Bitrate (ABR) streaming to provide a high quality viewing experience across the broad variety of network types – fixed or mobile, at varying connection speeds. Built on the GlobalDots Intelligent Platform™, Adaptive Media Delivery provides superior scalability, reliability, availability and reach.
Reliability, Capacity and Scale: GlobalDots‘ is a trusted partner for content providers streaming the world’s largest online events – events that have established benchmarks for online streaming capacity and scale. This capacity and scale is a critical element of an online streaming strategy, because is impossible to predict when and where your content will go viral. When a streaming event or Over-The-Top (OTT) service must succeed, the world’s most successful brands turn to GlobalDots Media Delivery Solutions.
Quality through Technology, Innovation, and Experience: Adaptive Media Delivery leverages the latest ABR technologies and more than 15 years of GlobalDots expertise to offer a smooth, high quality viewing experience for your audience. Since 1998, GlobalDots’ CDN market success has supported continuous investment in network capacity and software innovations, to stay ahead of online audience demand.
Proximity: Even the highest quality networks are subject to the Internet’s realities of latency, congestion, and packet loss, which can significantly limit online video quality. GlobalDots’ broadly deployed network of edge servers, with more Points of Presence (POPs) than other global CDN providers, minimizes the impact of network congestion, for consistent viewing experiences. In addition, our partnerships with the world’s leading service providers, allows our edge servers to be located deep within over 1,500 service provider networks – closer to the audience, for the lowest latency and highest quality.
As we’ve seen in the previous chapters, streaming and VOD technology is evolving at rapid pace. Content producers, publishers, broadcasters, consumer electronics manufacturers and consumers demand greater quality, faster download speeds and new platforms.
At GlobalDots, we are proud to be able to provide the best possible technologies to stream and deliver these new experiences to your audience, anytime, anywhere.
If you have any questions about how we can help you deliver your content to users worldwide through our Streaming Platform, contact us today.