Broadpeak – Protecting our planet: how optimization strategies are key to sustainable video streaming

Broadpeak – Protecting our planet: how optimization strategies are key to sustainable video streaming

IABM Journal

Broadpeak – Protecting our planet: how optimization strategies are key to sustainable video streaming

Thu 18, 04 2024

Broadpeak – Protecting our planet: how optimization strategies are key to sustainable video streaming

Elodie Levrel, Corporate Marketing and Communications Director, Broadpeak

The environmental impact of the digital industry, and the equipment it uses around the world, has emerged as a pressing concern, contributing around 3.8% of global Green House Gas (GHG) emissions according to Within this digital spectrum, video streaming — although currently a smaller portion of the digital industry’s footprint — is rapidly expanding. Sandvine’s 2023 Global Internet Phenomena Report found that data usage from video sites increased by 24% in 2022, and video accounted for a staggering 65% of all internet traffic last year. This trend is not slowing down, meaning there is potential for an even larger carbon footprint on the horizon.

The urgency to address this is underscored by the need to protect the planet by adopting more sustainable business and technology practices. As awareness of climate change intensifies, the media industry must respond accordingly, and appeal to the consumer demand for more video content in an environmentally friendly way. The challenge video service providers face is meeting an increasing demand for video streaming across the world without causing an increase in hardware equipment, which would exacerbate the industry’s environmental footprint. This is where the importance of optimization and energy-efficient strategies becomes paramount.

What to do? Tools, data, and collaboration

Data centers, the backbone of video streaming services, consume an excessive amount of water and produce significant greenhouse gases, contributing to the urgency of addressing their environmental impact. As the demand for more high-quality video — such as high-definition and 4K — increases, so does the expansion of data centers, and the subsequent risk they pose to our climate. It is imperative for the media industry to recognize the environmental costs associated with this, and to take decisive action toward minimizing their impact.

To reduce their environmental footprint, video service providers should aim to stabilize their equipment usage while simultaneously boosting overall capacity. Collaboration is essential for energy-efficient streaming, and achieving this balance requires a concerted effort from all those involved in the distribution of streaming services — including internet service providers (ISPs), content providers, streaming platforms, and technology vendors — to invest in efficiency and optimization technologies.

Optimization has emerged as one of the keys to achieving a more sustainable balance in the streaming ecosystem. By developing tools and practices that simplify and scale their interactions, these entities can work together to create a more sustainable streaming ecosystem. Several technologies offer promising solutions for enhancing data delivery, thereby reducing the need for additional hardware and mitigating the environmental impact of data centers.

Edge caching optimizes streaming systems by serving content from nearby servers, reducing network congestion and traffic. This approach enhances streaming quality, alleviates delivery chain congestion, and lowers energy consumption at the network core.

Similarly, elastic and dynamic CDNs enhance energy efficiency by activating cache servers only when needed and sharing resources with other applications. These CDNs efficiently manage server workloads, resulting in energy savings while adapting to fluctuating network demands.

 Moreover, video service providers face a unique opportunity to improve sustainability during live events, such as sports, which are increasingly consumed via OTT platforms. These events generate massive traffic peaks, traditionally dealt with by the deployment of additional equipment for short periods. Reducing these peaks is critical to limiting the need for extra hardware and, consequently, reducing the environmental impact.

Multicast ABR technology scales video streaming over the network by delivering a single stream independent of viewer numbers. Particularly effective for live sports streams, this technology smooths traffic peaks and offers a more sustainable solution for high-demand events, minimizing the need to deploy more infrastructure.

Nevertheless, despite ISPs focusing on optimizing their internal video services over the years, these improvements typically do not extend to external traffic, especially from popular streaming platforms. Enabling content providers to utilize these optimizations within their own networks could present an opportunity to reduce network infrastructure costs, ultimately decreasing the network’s carbon footprint.

Open Caching, a system developed by the Streaming Video Technology Alliance (SVTA), integrates content caching across CDNs, ISPs, and content providers. By enabling local cache retrieval of video content, this system reduces network traffic, improves streaming quality, and eliminates redundant third-party CDN caches in ISP networks.

Another strategy video service providers can implement is acquiring increased and precise measurements from the operational field. By leveraging data, they can identify areas of excessive energy use and assess energy savings.


The time for action is now, and the path forward is clear: optimization is key to a sustainable future in video streaming, and some solutions for optimization are already available today. By investing in efficiency and optimization technologies, and integrating sustainability into the deployment and growth strategies of video streaming services, the media industry could actively contribute to the global effort to combat climate change. Moreover, by obtaining accurate and standardized measurements from the field, the industry could identify opportunities for energy savings and further system optimizations. A data-driven approach, combined with efforts to reduce traffic peaks during live events, can meaningfully contribute to the reduction of the industry’s environmental footprint, while also helping meet the growing consumer demand for environmentally friendly services.

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