Video: State of the Streaming Market 2021

Streaming Media is back to take the pulse of the Streaming market following on from their recent, mid-year survey measuring the impact of the pandemic. This is the third annual snapshot of the state of the streaming market which will be published by Streaming Media in March. To give us this sneak peak, Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen is joined by colleague Tim Siglin and Harmonic Inc.’s Robert Gambino,

They start off with a look at the demographics of the respondents. It’s no surprise that North America is well represented as Streaming Media is US-based and both the USA and Canada have very strong broadcast markets in terms of publishers and vendors. Europe is represented to the tune of 14% and South America’s representation has doubled which is in line with other trends showing notable growth in the South American market. In terms of individuals, exec-level and ‘engineering’ respondents were equally balanced with a few changes in the types of institutions represented. Education and houses of worship have both grown in representation since the last survey.

Of responding companies, 66% said that they both create and distribute content, a percentage that continues to grow. This is indicative, the panel says, of the barrier to entry of distribution continuing to fall. CDNs are relatively low cost and the time to market can be measured in weeks. Answering which type of streaming they are involved in, live and on-demand were almost equal for the first time in this survey’s history. Robert says that he’s seen a lot of companies taking to using the cloud to deliver popups but also that streaming ecosystems are better attuned to live video than they used to be.

Reading the news, it seems that there’s a large migration into the cloud, but is that shown in the data? When asked about their plans to move to the cloud, around a third had already moved but only a quarter said they had no plans. This means there is plenty of room for growth for both cloud platforms and vendors. In terms of the service itself, video quality was the top ‘challenge’ identified followed by latency, scalability and buffering respectively. Robert points out better codecs delivering lower bitrates helps alleviate all of these problems as well as time to play, bandwidth and storage costs.

There have been a lot of talks on dynamic server-side ad insertion in 2020 including for use with targetted advertising, but who’s actually adopting it. Over half of respondents indicated they weren’t going to move into that sphere and that’s likely because many governmental and educational services don’t need advertising to start with. But 10% are planning to implement it within the next 12 months which represents a doubling of adoption, so growth is not slow. Robert’s experience is that many people in ad sales are still used to selling on aggregate and don’t understand the power of targetted advertising and, indeed, how it works. Education, he feels, is key to continuing growth.

The panel finishes by discussing what companies hope to get out of the move to virtualised or cloud infrastructure. Flexibility comes in just above reliability with cost savings only being third. Robert comes back to pop-up channels which, based on the release of a new film or a sports event, have proved popular and are a good example of the flexibility that companies can easily access and monetise. There are a number of companies that are heavily investing in private cloud as well those who are migrating to public cloud. Either way, these benefits are available to companies who invest and, as we’re seeing in South America, cloud can offer an easy on-ramp to expanding both scale and feature-set of your infrastructure without large Capex projects. Thus it’s the flexibility of the solution which is driving expansion and improvements in quality and production values.

Watch now!
Speakers

Tim Siglin Tim Siglin
Contributing Editor, Streaming Media Magazine
Founding Executive Director, HelpMeStream
Robert Gambino Robert Gambino
Director of Solutions,
Harmonic Inc.
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen Moderator: Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen
Editor, Streaming Media

Video: Preparing for 5G Video Streaming

Will streaming really be any better with 5G? What problems won’t 5G solve? Just a couple of the questions in this panel from the Streaming Video Alliance. There are so many aspects of 5G which are improvements, it can be very hard to clearly articulate for a given use case which are the main ones that matter. In this webinar, the use case is clear: streaming to the consumer.

Moderating the session, Dom Robinson kicks off the conversation asking the panellists to dig below the hype and talk about what 5G means for streaming right now. Brian Stevenson is first up explaining that the low-bandwidth 5G option really useful as it allows operators to roll out 5G offerings with the spectrum they already have and, given its low frequency, get a good decent a propagation distance. In the low frequencies, 5G can still give a 20% improvement bandwidth. Whilst this is a good start, he continues, it’s really delivering in the mid-band – where bandwidth is 6x – that we can really start enabling the applications which are discussed in the rest of the talk.

Humberto la Roche from Cisco says that in his opinion, the focus needs to be on low-latency. Latency at the network level is reduced when working in the millimetre wavelengths, reducing around 10x. This is important even for video on demand. He points out, though that delay happens within the IP network fabric as well as in the 5G protocol itself and the wavelength it’s working on. Adding buffers into the network drives down the cost of that infrastructure so it’s important to look at ways of delivering the overall latency needed at a reasonable cost. We also hear from Sanjay Mishra who explains that some telcos are already deploying millimetre wavelengths and focussing on advancing edge compute in high-density areas as their differentiator.

The panel discusses the current technical challenges for operators. Thierry Fautier draws from his experience of watching sports in the US on his mobile devices. The US has a zero-rating policy, he explains, where a mobile operator waives all data charges when you use a certain service, but only delivers the video at SD resolution at 1.5 Mbps. Whilst the benefits to this are obvious, it means that as people buy new, often larger phones, with better screens, they expect to reap the benefits. At SD, Thierry says, you can’t see the ball in Tennis, so there 5G will offer the over-the-air network bandwidth needed to allow the telcos to offer HD as part of these deals.

Preparing for 5G Video Streaming from Streaming Video Alliance on Vimeo.

The panel discusses the problems seen so far in delivering MBMS – multicast for mobile networks. MBMS has been deployed sporadically around the world in current LTE networks (using eMBMS) but has faced a typical chicken and egg problem. Given that both cell towers and mobile devices need to support the technology, it hasn’t been worth the upgrade cost for the telcos given that eMBMS is not yet supported by many chipsets including Apple’s. Thierry says there is hope for a 5G version of MBMS since Apple is now part of the 3GPP.

CMAF had a similar chicken and egg situation when it was finalised, there was hesitance in using it because Apple didn’t support it. Now with iOS 14 supporting HLS in CMAF, there is much more interest in deploying such services. This is just as well, cautions Thierry, as all the talk of reduced latency in 5G or in the network itself won’t solve the main problem with streaming latency which exists at the application layer. If services don’t abandon HLS/DASH and move to LL-HLS and LL-DASH/CMAF then the improvements in latency lower down the stack will only convey minimal benefits to the viewer.

Sanjay discusses the problem of coverage and penetration which will forever be a problem. “All cell towers are not created equal.” The challenge will remain as to how far and wide coverage will be there.

The panel finishes looking at what’s to come and suggests more ‘federations’ of companies working together, both commercially and technically, to deliver video to users in better ways. Thierry sums up the near future as providing higher quality experiences, making in-stadia experiences great and enabling immersive video.

Watch now!
Speakers

Brian Stevenson Brian Stevenson
SME,
Streaming Video Alliance
Humberto La Roche Humberto La Roche
Principal Engineer,
Cisco
Sanjay Mishra Sanjay Mishra
Associate Fellow,
Verizon
Thierry Fautier Thierry Fautier
President-Chair at Ultra HD Forum
VP Video Strategy Harmonic at Harmonic
Dom Robinson Moderator: Dom Robinson
Co-Founder, Director, and Creative Firestarter
id3as

Video: Everyone is Streaming; Can the Infrastructure Handle it?

How well is the internet infrastructure dealing with the increase in streaming during the Covid-19 pandemic? What have we learnt in terms of delivering services and have we seen any changes in the way services are consumed? This video brings together carriers, vendors and service providers to answer these questions and give a wider picture.

The video starts off by getting different perspectives on how the pandemic has affected their business sharing key data points. Jeff Budney from Verizon says that carriers have had a ‘whirlwind’ few weeks. Conviva’s José Jesus says that while they are only seeing 3% more devices, there was a 37% increase in hours of video consumed. Peaks due to live sports have done but primetime is now spread and more stable, a point which was made by both Jeff Gilbert from Qwilt as well as José.

“We’ve seen a whole year’s worth of traffic growth…it’s really been incredible” — Jeff Budney, Verizon

So while it’s clear that growth has happened, but the conversation turns to whether this has caused problems. We hear views about how some countries did see reductions in quality of experience and some with none. This experience is showing where bottlenecks are, whether they are part of the ISP infrastructure or in individual players/services which haven’t been well optimised. Indeed, explains Jason Thibeault, Executive Director of the Streaming Video Alliance, the situation seems to be shining a light on the operational resilience, rather than technical capacity of ISPs.

Thierry Fautier from Harmonic emphasises the benefits of content-aware encoding whereby services could reduce bandwidth by “30 to 40 percent” before talking about codec choice. AVC (A.K.A. H.264) accounts for 90%+ of all HD traffic. Thierry contents that by switching to both HEVC and content-aware encoding services could reduce their bandwidth by up to a factor of four.

Open Caching is a working group creating specifications to standardise an interface to allow ISPs to pull information into a local cache from service providers. This moving of content to the edge is one way that we can help avoid bottlenecks by locating content as close to viewers as possible.

The elephant in the room is that Netflix reduced quality/bitrate in order to help some areas cope. Verizon’s Jeff Budney points out that this is contra to the industry’s approach to deployment where they have assumed there is always the capacity to provide the needed scale. If that’s true, how can one tweet from a European Commissioner have had such an impact? The follow on point is that if YouTube and Netflix are now sending 25% less data, as reports suggest, ABR simply means that other providers’ players will take up the slack, as is the intent-free way ABR works. If the rest of the industry benefits from the big providers ‘dialling back’ is this an effective measure and is it fair?

The talk concludes hitting topics on ABR Multicast, having more intelligent ways to manage large-scale capacity issues, more on Open Caching and deliver protocols.

Watch now!
Speakers

Thierry Fautier Thierry Fautier
VP Video Strategy, Harmonic Inc.
President-Chair, Ultra HD Forum
Eric Klein Eric Klein
Director, Content Distribution – Disney+/ESPN+, Disney Streaming Services
Co-Chair, Open Cache Working Group, Streaming Video Alliance
José Jesus José Jesus
Senior Product Manager,
Conviva
Jeffrey Budney Jeff Budney
Manager,
Verizon
Jeffrey Gilbert Jeffrey Gilbert
VP strategy and Business Development, CP,
Qwilt
Jason Thibeault Jason Thibeault
Executive Director,
Streaming Video Alliance

Video: Codec Comparison from TCO and Compression Efficiency Perspective

AVC, now 16 years old, is long in the tooth but supported by billions of devices. The impetus to replace it comes from the drive to serve customers with a lower cost/base and a more capable platform. Cue the new contenders VVC and AV1 – not to mention HEVC. It’s no surprise they comptes better then AVC (also known as MPEG 4 and h.264) but do they deliver a cost efficient, legally safe codec on which to build a business?

Thierry Fautier has done the measurements and presents them in this talk. Thierry explains that the tests were done using reference code which, though unoptimised for speed, should represent the best quality possible from each codec and compared 1080p video all of which is reproduced in the IBC conference paper.

Licensing is one important topic as, by some, HEVC is seen as a failed codec not in terms of its compression but rather in the réticente by many companies to deploy it which has been due to the business risk of uncertain licensing costs and/or the expense of the known licensing costs. VVC faces the challenge of entering the market and avoiding these concerns which MPEG is determined to do.

Thierry concludes by comparing AVC against HEVC, AV1 and VVC in terms of deployment dates, deployed devices and the deployment environment. He looks at the challenge of moving large video libraries over to high-complexity codecs due to cost and time required to re-compress. The session ends with questions from the audience.
Watch now!
Speaker

Thierry Fautier Thierry Fautier
President-Chair at Ultra HD Forum,
VP Video Strategy, Harmonic