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Bringing broadcast quality to OTT streaming: The missing ingredient

By Silvia Candido, Field Marketing Director, Anevia

For years, our industry has been trying to improve the video viewing experience. And for many people, this has meant improving image quality – trying to squeeze in and compress even more pixels to offer better images without congesting the available bandwidth.

But it seems that a new parameter is now becoming increasingly important for improving quality of experience. Did you catch what it is?

It became obvious over the summer with the FIFA World Cup. There were cases of people watching a game who heard their neighbours cheer a goal – before the action had even started on their screens.

How’s that for a spoiler effect?

So it seems that now that image quality is pretty good, the new Eldorado in the relentless quest for offering the best quality of experience might well be low latency: reducing the time from when an action happens to when viewers actually see it on their screens.

At least, that’s the impression I get.

It also seems to be the impression that several other people are getting.

Two people from Anevia spoke about latency in October at the Streaming Video Alliance in Budapest: Jérôme Blanc, EVP Compression Products, and Philippe Carol, Product Management Team Leader.

Plus, according to this article in Advanced Television, Stefan Ledere, CEO and Co-Founder of BitMovin, said that in 2019, “tackling latency will be a bigger priority, driven by expectations for live sports experiences.”

And a number of executives mention the importance of reducing latency in the “Executive predictions” feature of the current issue of Streaming Media Magazine – European Edition. Castlabs CEO Michael Stattman, for example, said “We expect that both technology vendors and streaming services will realize the necessity of ultra-low latency and Common Media Application Format (CMAF).” And Bernd Korz, CEO of Alugha, believes that “it must be guaranteed that the viewing experience is not spoiled by delays, interruptions or bad quality.”

At Content Delivery World earlier this month, a number of presenters – from Telefonica, Orange, DTG, and Antenna Hungaria – mentioned latency. The industry consensus seems to be that many use cases require a broadcast-like experience in terms of latency – and that latency must be measured glass-to-glass.

Reducing latency was also the topic of a panel discussion at Content Delivery World. Stuart Newton, VP Strategy & Business Development at Telestream, Jeff Webb, Principal Streaming Architect at Sky, and Benjamin Schwartz, the owner of CTO Innovation, all talked about “The fight to counter latency: the countdown to zero.” Benjamin Schwartz even mentioned an eBook that he has recently co-authored – an eBook that, he said, would soon be published.

The other co-author of this eBook is Jérôme Blanc, EVP Compression Products at Anevia – which is why, as an employee of Anevia, I managed to see some of its content before it even got published.

The eBook – called “What the 2018 World Cup has taught us about video streaming” – talks about the importance of latency, and identifies three “ultra-low latency killer apps.”

Reducing latency is becoming a really hot topic – and will be even hotter in 2019.

Anevia has just co-authored not one, but two eBooks about reducing latency. The first one – the one that Benjamin Schwartz mentioned during his panel discussion – talks about why and when it’s important to reduce latency. Here is an extract from the introduction:

“This year, it’s not just the growth that was spectacular, but absolute numbers: online streaming of FIFA 2018 smashed all records with 70 million viewers in a country like India, where football isn’t a national sport. The disruptive novelty is that for most millennials, streaming is their A-plan, and broadcast is the backup… Live streaming is just starting to enter the mainstream though, and to convince viewers it needs to deliver the same kind of experience that people are used to getting through broadcast TV. The main difference that we still see between OTT streaming and broadcast is stream delay.”

The eBook has already been published and is available for download (no questions asked) here.

The second eBook – also co-authored by Benjamin Schwartz and Jérôme Blanc – goes into the technical details of how to reduce latency, and will be published in early 2019. Make sure you visit Anevia’s website around mid January to get your copy!

 

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