Once upon a time, content was all that mattered for a streaming service to be successful.
It’s still the main concern, of course. But with the proliferation of streaming services, it’s no longer enough. Great content at the right price lets you in the game; great quality of experience differentiates you.
But delivering a high quality of experience on an OTT platform can be a challenge. And the challenges are intensifying with the emergence of next-generation video formats – with 4K and HDR entering distribution streams and a potentially embracing surround viewing, virtual and other extended-reality formats, volumetric holographic content and, eventually, 8K.
Addressable advertising and more personal customer experiences are also making high QoE more difficult to achieve. And there are even performance challenges with traditional in-stream advertising. One recent global survey tracking ad performance found that in-stream ads failed to play as intended at least once in 36.5% of OTT sessions across all viewing platforms. Most of these failures involved long buffering delays; some were complete misses in placements due to mismatches in formatting or errors in ad selection.
Yet given the efforts service providers have poured into achieving current performance levels with streamed video, what more can be done?
The short answer is, plenty. But it will require new thinking about designing the video processing and delivery infrastructure – with net gains in cost efficiency as well as performance.
Three things OTT providers need to achieve high QoE
It comes down to three criteria that OTT providers must meet if they want to stream high-value video with the QoE that’s essential to success.
1. Best-of-breed encoding – Software-based encoders running on commodity on-premise appliances or in the cloud now out-perform purpose-built hardware encoders. But service providers need to choose them carefully.
2. Content delivery network performance needs to surpass the capabilities of public CDNs to achieve ultra-low latency, to scale up temporarily when needed, and to support applications such as personalised advertising.
3. Full integration of the encoders and CDN to ensure a superior viewing experience.
So what exactly should service providers look for in encoders and CDN – and how can they make sure that the two will work together seamlessly to ensure a high quality of experience?
ATEME and Anevia recently published a whitepaper called “How to Win the QoE Battle in OTT” that addresses these questions. You can download it here: https://anevia.com/how-to-win-the-qoe-battle-in-ott-video/.