The player is the most important contact point for viewing experience, and is also integral to effective monetization and other commercial factors.
— Dr. Yang Cai, CEO VisualOn
The rapid development of streaming services worldwide tends to be dominated by discussions around content. Asking questions such as, who is producing it and how it’s being consumed. But in the understandable excitement around these new platforms and services, it’s clear that some key technical issues have been overlooked – none more so than the role of video players.
The current generation of streaming services is often being undermined by poorly performing video players. But luckily, more and more streaming service providers are realizing the importance of optimizing the performance and capabilities of the video player. “There has been a tendency towards de-valuing the role of the video player with commoditized options and vendors that throw in players as a value-add,” says Cai. “This short-sighted perspective on the impact of the player can have a negative impact on the cross-platform functionality and viewing experience for advanced and growing services.”
As streaming has developed, so has the company’s portfolio of solutions geared towards optimizing the impact of the video player across all devices. Cai notes: “The most immediate and tangible way for a service to make an impression on subscribers is through the playback experience. Instead of being an afterthought, the playback experience must be optimally designed to match the goals for consumer usage. So what we have focused on doing is creating an unparalleled portfolio of playback solutions able to play any content reliably on any device.”
Support New Ways to Engage with Video Content
MultiStream Sync, with features to allow viewers to select multiple camera angles, has been quickly deployed in the past three years. It has been devised to optimize the experience regardless of device or platform: as well as adjusting to various conditions – including network speed or device capability – to deliver low latency streams, it provides frame-accurate video and audio synchronization across devices. The solution provides a revolutionized viewer experience and helps clearly articulate the value of premium services.
To date, the enhanced volumetric video solution applies multistream to three-dimensional space. The solution enables viewers to switch between camera angles while the video is playing with no delay and buffering. It brings a new level of interactivity to the viewer, meaning viewers can decide when and what to watch, and it is evident that this has great potential to increase engagement among users.
More streaming solutions designed to change the way viewers engage with video content. And co-watching is one of them. It allows viewers to enjoy real-time text, audio and video chat while watching live and VoD with friends and family. Although the pandemic accelerated the use of co-watching applications due to restrictions on gatherings, co-watching will remain a part of viewing behavior after the pandemic.
Cai suggests that co-watching will become even more mainstream as the number of innovative use-cases for the technology continues to proliferate. He gives several examples: “The technology could be used for sports or esports events, musical, or cultural events. You could watch a movie with the director, and while you’re watching they can make comments and tell stories about shooting the movie.”
VisualOn WatchParty empowers viewers to interact in real-time with celebs, musicians, commentators, etc.
Bandwidth Saving While Maintaining the Video Quality
5G will ultimately have a transformative effect on the quality and capability of video services, which means increased bandwidth and very low latency, and that means operators have the opportunity to support ultra-high resolutions, high frame-rates, immersiveness and interactivity.
Improving the quality of the viewing experience (QoE) is very important for operators, such as OTT video service providers. QoE is related to the quality of the video and smooth playback. While the video quality is increasing with the adoption of high-resolution videos such as high definition (HD) and ultra-high definition/4K, the volume of video data is also growing, and the cost of bandwidth and CDN transfers associated with video consumption is increasing every year.
However, the headwinds are making it difficult to grow in 2023 and operators are looking for ways to save streaming costs. Thus, for video delivery service providers, reducing the cost of bandwidth and CDN transfer, while maintaining or improving the quality of the viewing experience is a critical issue that must be addressed in order to maximize profits.
Nowadays, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are increasingly being applied to perfect the streaming service and increase the delivery efficiency. Video compression software leverages AI and ML to automate video compression. An ML-based algorithm that efficiently, automatically and optimally configures the encoder to achieve best results based on the input contents.
Deploying and maintaining high-quality video services can be frustrating and cumbersome. It requires significant testing and troubleshooting to discover what is causing playback issues before you can even start to debug and qualify devices and streams. ML-powered automation tools can be used to pinpoint the exact moment when an issue occurs, and flag potential problems before they happen. It analyzes where rebuffering, frame drops or other errors occurred and marks those events for analysis and testing.
We are still at the early stage applying AI and ML to video streaming, especially live video streaming. Classifying, recognizing objects, and recognizing faces are tasks that AI and ML should manage in the future, which can help solve problems, from protecting privacy to improving the quality of user experience.