What are the key challenges faced by video content providers in delivering streaming video and how can they overcome these?
Today’s consumers expect exceptional video experiences across all devices. To guarantee the best quality of experience for viewers, content providers need to deliver high video quality and low latency for live content, with no service interruption or rebuffering. However, delivering high-quality video streaming experiences can be challenging when content providers do not control the delivery of their content.
There are a couple of strategies that content providers can take to gain back control over the delivery process and enhance QoE. One approach is to use more than one CDN service. Using multiple CDNs, content providers can choose the best content delivery networks for streaming their content, taking into account the user context. Another way to improve QoE and reduce CDN costs is by deploying local caches in operators’ networks. With local caches in the operator network, content is streamed from a location closer to end users, which reduces latency and network congestion, resulting in higher video bitrates, faster start times, and uninterrupted viewing sessions.
How can network operators best serve their content provider partners and what needs to be done by both to optimise video delivery?
Partnership is the key word. Operators control the access network, including the last mile. They hold the power to boost the video quality.
Several scenarios are possible for content providers and operators to partner. One option is for the operator to deploy a multi-tenant infrastructure that it can monetise with content providers. Another idea is for content providers to place their own local caches in the operators’ network, similar to how Netflix does. Content providers can cache content based on its popularity, setting up a threshold on the number of times content is requested before caching it locally. It’s important to keep in mind that there’s a trade-off between local cache size and cost of delivery. Content that is not cached will be delivered through a traditional CDN service.
How can a multiCDN strategy help improve video streaming?
The best CDN is not the always the same for every content. It can vary depending on end-user geographic location, end-user network service provider, time of the day, and type of content (i.e., VOD or live). Using multiple CDNs, content providers can create rules to always select the best one. It is also possible, through innovative technologies like Broadpeak’s CDN Diversity™, to combine several CDNs to achieve even higher video quality and manage seamless fail-over.
What role can local caching play in optimising video delivery?
Local caching means streaming content from a location that is closer to end-users via the operator’s network. There is no impact of the contention point that may exist between a CDN service provider or a transit provider and the operator’s network; therefore, it improves startup time, reduces rebuffering, and allows higher bitrates to be realised. Local caching technology also provides significant savings for content providers, as they no longer need to pay the CDN service provider for all of the streams consumed by the network service providers’ subscribers.
How important is monitoring the Quality of Experience of streamed video and what tools do content providers need to do this effectively?
Monitoring content consumption is key for content providers so that they can make the appropriate decisions at all levels, from support to capacity planning and marketing. There are several different levels of analytics that content providers can employ. They can use information from the video delivery system to determine what content has been consumed where, and understand the state of the servers. Only by utilising information from the players can content providers gain insights into QoE, such as startup time, latency, video quality, and number of rebufferings.
It’s important to combine all of this information to get the real picture of what is happening and find the root causes of errors. Having the ability to track specific sessions is also essential. Content providers can monitor layer switches and rebuferrings to pinpoint when and why they happened, taking the right measures to resolve the issue.
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