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.

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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: State of the Streaming Market

Streaming Media commissioned an extra mid-year update to their ‘State of the Streaming Market’ survey in order to understand how the landscape has changed due to COVID-19. With a survey already carried out once this year, this special Autumn edition captures the rapid changes we’ve been seeing.

Tim Siglin talks us through the results of the survey ahead of a full report being published. Since the last set of questioning the amount of live vs OTT in the businesses that responded has swung around 5% in favour of live content. The survey indicates that 65% of streaming infrastructure will be software-defined within 24 months, with some adopting a hybrid approach initially.

Tim also unveils a very striking graphic showing 56% of respondents see the internet being their company’s main way of transporting video via IP dwarfing the other answers, the biggest of which is CDN with 25% which covers delivery to CDN by dedicated links or internet links within the cloud.

Zixi is part of the RIST Forum and the SRT alliance, which indicates they understand the importance of multiple-codec workflows. We see the streaming industry is of the same opinion with more than two-thirds expecting to be using multiple protocols over the next twelve months,

Looking at the benefits of moving to the cloud, flexibility is number one, cost savings at three and supporting a virtualised workforce being five. Tim mentions surprise at seeing a remote workforce being only at number five but does suggest without the pandemic it would not have entered the top five at all. This seems quite reasonable as, whatever your motivation for starting using the cloud, flexibility is nearly always going to be one of the key benefits.

Reliability was ranked number two in ‘benefits of moving to the cloud’. The reasons for people choosing that were fairly evenly split with the exception of uptime being 39%. Quality of Service, Quality of Experience and cost all came in around 20%.

Tim Siglin and Gordon Brooks discuss how 5G will impact the industry. Gordon gives a business-to-business example of how they are currently helping a broadcaster contribute into the cloud and then deliver to and end-point all with low-latency. He sees these links as some of the first to ‘go 5G’. In terms of the survey, people see ‘in venue delivery’ as half as likely to be useful for video streaming than distribution to the consumer or general distribution. Tim finishes by saying that although it could well be impactful to streaming, we need to see how much of the hype the operators actually live up to before planning too many projects around it.

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Speakers

Tim Siglin Tim Siglin
Founding Executive Director
HelpMeStream
Gordon Brooks Gordon Brooks
CEO
Zixi
Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen Moderator: Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen
Editor, Streaming Media

Video: CDN Trends in FPGAs & GPUs

As technology continues to improve, immersive experiences are all the more feasible. This video looks at how the CDNs can play their part in enabling technologies which seem to rely on fast, local, compute. However, as with many internet services, low latency is very important.

Greg Jones from Nvidia and Nehal Mehta form Intel give us the lowdown in this video on what’s happening today to enable low-latency CDNs and what the future might look like. Intel, owners of FPGA makers Altera, and Nvidia are both interested in how their products can be of as much service at the edge as in the core datacentres.

Greg is involved in XR development at Nvidia. ‘XR’ is a term which refers to an outcome rather than any specific technology. Ostensibly ‘eXtended’ reality, it includes some VR, some augmented reality and anything else which helps improve the immersive experience. Greg explains that the importance of getting the ‘motion to photon’ delay to within 20ms. CDNs can play a role in this by moving compute to the edge. This tracks with current trends on wanting to reduce backhaul, edge computation is already on the rise.

Greg also touches on recent power improvements on newer GPUs. Similar to what we heard the other day from Gerard Phillips from Arista who said that switch manufacturers were still using technology that CPU’s were on several years ago meaning there’s plenty in the bank for speed increases over the coming years. According to Greg, the same is true for GPUs. Moreover, it’s important to compare compute per watt rather than doing it in absolute terms.

Nehal Mehta explains that, in the same way that GPUs can offload certain tasks from the CPU, so do FPGAs. At scale, this can be critical for tasks like deep packet inspection, encryption or even dynamic ad insertion at the edge,

The second half of video looks at what’s happening during the pandemic. Nehal explains that need for encryption has increased and Greg sees that large engineering functions are now, or many are soon likely to be, done in the cloud. Greg sees XR as going a long way to helping people collaborate around a large digital model and may help to reduce travel.

The last point made is regarding video conferencing all day long leaving people wanting “more meaningful interactions”. We are seeing attempts at richer and richer meeting experiences, both with and without XR.
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Speakers

Greg Jones Greg Jones
Global Business Development, XR
NVIDIA
Nehal Mehta Nehal Mehta
Direcotr Visiual Cloud, CDN Segment,
Intel
Tim Siglin Moderator: Tim Siglin
Founding Executive Director,
Help Me Stream

Video: AV1 – A Reality Check

Released in 2018, AV1 had been a little over two years in the making at the Alliance of Open Media founded by industry giants including Google, Amazon, Mozilla, Netflix. Since then work has continued to optimise the toolset to bring both encoding and decoding down to real-world levels.

This talk brings together AOM members Mozilla, Netflix, Vimeo and Bitmovin to discus where AV1’s up to and to answer questions from the audience. After some introductions, the conversation turns to 8K. The Olympics are the broadcast industry’s main driver for 8K at the moment, though it’s clear that Japan and other territories aim to follow through with further deployments and uses.

“AV1 is the 8K codec of choice” 

Paul MacDougall, Bitmovin
 CES 2020 saw a number of announcements like this from Samsung regarding AV1-enabled 8K TVs. In this talk from Google, Matt Frost from Google Chrome Media explains how YouTube has found that viewer retention is higher with VP9-delivered videos which he attributes to VP9’s improved compression over AVC which leads to quicker start times, less buffering and, often, a higher resolution being delivered to the user. AV1 is seen as providing these same benefits over AVC without the patent problems that come with HEVC.

 
It’s not all about resolution, however, points out Paul MacDougall from BitMovin. Resolution can be useful, for instance in animations. For animated content, resolution is worth having because it accentuates the lines which add intelligibility to the picture. For some content, with many similar textures, grass, for instance, then quality through bitrate may be more useful than adding resolution. Vittorio Giovara from Vimeo agrees, pointing out that viewer experience is a combination of many factors. Though it’s trivial to say that a high-resolution screen of unintended black makes for a bad experience, it is a great reminder of things that matter. Less obviously, Vittorio highlights the three pillars of spatial, temporal and spectral quality. Temporal refers to upping the bitrate, spatial is, indeed, the resolution and spectral refers to bit-depth and colour-depth know as HDR and Wide Colour Gamut (WCG).

Nathan Egge from Mozilla acknowledges that in their 2018 code release at NAB, the unoptimized encoder which was claimed by some to be 3000 times slower than HEVC, was ’embarrassing’, but this is the price of developing in the open. The panel discusses the fact that the idea of developing compression is to try out approaches until you find a combination that work well. While you are doing that, it would be a false economy to be constantly optimising. Moreover, Netflix’s Anush Moorthy points out, it’s a different set of skills and, therefore, a different set of people who optimise the algorithms.

Questions fielded by the panel cover whether there are any attempts to put AV1 encoding or decoding into GPU. Power consumption and whether TVs will have hardware or software AV1 decoding. Current in-production AV1 uses and AVC vs VVC (compression benefit Vs. royalty payments).

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Speakers

Vittorio Giovara Vittorio Giovara
Manager, Engineering – Video Technology
Vimeo
Nathan Egge Nathan Egge
Video Codec Engineer,
Mozilla
Paul MacDougall Paul MacDougall
Principal Sales Engineer,
Bitmovin
Anush Moorthy Anush Moorthy
Manager, Video and Image Encoding
Netflix
Tim Siglin Tim Siglin
Founding Executive Director
Help Me Stream, USA