Flexible cloud solutions are essential for delivering high-quality live streaming, says castLabs founder & managing director Martin Tews.
The OTT industry has been growing significantly and based on the statistics of the last couple of years the global video streaming market is expected to reach $82 billion by 2023 (Interxion, 2018).
One of the opportunities in the industry of digital media is to answer needs relating to the rise of online streaming services by providing highly scalable solutions. The streaming patterns have changed from on-demand-only content consumption to live streaming, often resulting in large spikes of views. The demand for uninterrupted and high-quality experiences is high, which makes it difficult to operate and scale DRM systems and avoid service outages with dependable high availability and excellent fault-tolerant redundancy.
This can be achieved through flexible cloud solutions and running across multiple regions around the world to utilise servers near the customers – thereby minimising key delivery times and maintaining a global delivery network. Finding a solution that prevents the streaming from disconnecting from the user and allows one to continue a smooth viewing experience opens up the scope for the development and creation of improved solutions. For example, castLabs tackles this problem by using built-in logic and scaling mechanisms to allow millions of licenses to be delivered every day and peak times to be served without delays – such as if there’s a sudden surge in viewers for the World Cup soccer finals.
Another key opportunity of the current market environment is the growing sports industry and live streaming of sports content. Apart from the ability to scale, one of the important features that the sports industry requires is low latency, which is crucial for the fans streaming content where seconds have a significant impact on the whole experience. The aim in providing a true live experience is to keep playback as close as possible to real-time recording. Whilst a jump from a few license requests to over 50 million can pressure the workflow, it is even harder to improve on delays in online streaming scenarios.
The competition surrounding low latency has been open for some time now and it is indeed possible to push the envelope. MPEG-DASH and HLS formats were not initially conceived with ultra-low latency in mind; however, it is possible to attain sub-5 second latency. One also has the ability to manually override standard stream specs – for example, overcoming the 3-segments latency for HLS – in order to get closer to the live edge. On the other hand, with CMAF it is realistic to achieve <1 second latency when using ‘chunked-transfer’ encoded content that allows playback of a stream’s segments to occur before they have completed downloading, or even finished being created in the first place. Streams using this method let compatible video players receive segments earlier and begin playing content significantly sooner.
The OTT industry is ever-evolving, and diving deeper into scalability and sports streaming will help companies to provide a competitive advantage to customers which will allow the technology to serve streamers in the most efficient, seamless and satisfying way.
Martin Tews is founder & managing director at castLabs