Hulu: 'DASH Is Definitely the Future for Us'
Subscription video-on-demand company Hulu is taking the lead on DASH adoption, and is already using it for all Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV streaming. At the recent Streaming Media East conference in New York City, Hulu principle software development lead Baptiste Coudurier sat down to talk about why those moves are only just the beginning.
"I think DASH has allowed us to really merge a lot of different formats that we were using before," Coudurier said. "It actually saves a lot of our costs, allowed to be really more efficient operationally."
Hulu has plans to bring DASH to more platforms, including Android, Chrome, and Internet Explorer. For Hulu, DASH is the future.
"I see DASH is definitely the future for us. We’re going to migrate all our devices to it," Coudurier added. "The Smooth Streaming compatibility layer allows us to also add Smooth Streaming devices, and so in the meantime we can transition these Smooth Streaming devices to our DASH files, even though we’ll still serve Smooth Streaming through them.And we’ll move from there."
For more on Hulu's experience with DASH, including why it's been a big win for viewer quality, watch the full interview below.
Troy: Hi. This is Troy Dreier, Senior Associate Editor for StreamingMedia.com, coming to you almost live from Streaming Media East 2014, in New York City. We’re talking with the idea leaders, the thought leaders that are here, joining us at Streaming Media East, and I’m very pleased to have Baptiste Coudurier, who’s in software development for Hulu. And you’re visiting New York, and you’re visiting our conference. Thank you for joining us.
Baptiste: Thank you for having me.
Troy: So Baptiste, you’re going to be talking later today, a session on DASH. It’s always a huge topic at our shows. So Hulu is already using DASH, right?
Baptiste: Definitely. We’re using DASH on the group Chromecast.And on Amazon Fire TV that just launched a couple weeks ago.
Troy: And you’re using it for all videos sent over those devices?
Baptiste: Exactly. Yeah. We’re serving hundred percent of traffic to these devices.
Troy: How’s that been going?
Baptiste: Great so far.I think DASH has been a great success for us.
Troy: Now, why has Hulu made the move for DASH with those devices?
Baptiste: I think DASH has allowed us to really merge a lot of different formats that we were using before. And it actually saves a lot of our costs, allowed to be really more efficient operationally.
Troy: Get a little bit into that. How is it saving you costs? You’re streaming less?
Baptiste: Well, now, instead of having 10 different formats, we actually only have one.And DASH, as you may know, is also using a common file format from ISO. And that is the successor of Smooth Streaming, so it also allows us to merge Smooth Streaming and DASH together.Using the same file on the CDN, for example.So it saves us in terms of packaging, in terms of CDN storage.And also in terms of DRMs, because now we can use multiple DRMs with the same files.
Troy: Okay. And is there a bandwidth savings as well?
Baptiste: Not really.
Baptiste: We're still streaming the same bit rate that we used to stream with different devices.So that hasn’t changed on that point.
Troy: But it’s how much that you need to store?
Baptiste: Yeah. How much we need to store, how much packaging processes we need to do.
Troy: So do you see it expanding beyond those two devices?
Baptiste: Yeah, definitely. We are actively working on porting all our devices to MPEG-DASH.
Baptiste: Yeah. No, they are coming. Android 4.4 is actually on the way.Google Chrome, hopefully.And IE 11 on Windows 8.
Troy: Okay. So you’ve been getting into desktop browsers.What about other browsers? Do they support DASH, or are you --
Baptiste: I think the browser support depends on MSE and EME.
Troy: Explain that for us.
Baptiste: MSE is media source extension, is like the browser support for HTML 5 video.That results to, like, the browser will retrieve fragments of media and actually play it back within the browser.So it’s actually needed to be able to play DASH on the browser.So far Google has been, has made major efforts, and Google Chrome 33 actually, fully supports it.
Troy: Okay. And Internet Explorer?
Baptiste: And yeah, IE 11 on Windows 8.
Troy: Uh-huh. Still waiting on Safari.
Baptiste: Still waiting on Safari.
Troy: Could be a while. What do you see is the future for DASH?
Baptiste: I see DASH is definitely the future for us. We’re going to migrate all our devices to it.Like I said, the Smooth Streaming compatibility layer allows us to also add Smooth Streaming devices.And so in the meantime we can transition these Smooth Streaming devices to our DASH files, even though we’ll still serve Smooth Streaming through them.And we’ll move from there.
Troy: So for your devices, what were you using prior to the switch?
Baptiste: We’re using a lot of formats. We’re using Widevine. We are using HLS, Smooth Streaming. Like regular MP4.Really DASH, out of those two, just merge them all.
Troy: Okay. And what about performance? Do viewers notice anything? Are there any complaints?
Baptiste: They don’t notice anything. But we’ve seen a 10 to 15 percent increase in terms of performance. And when I say performance, I’m talking about QoS experience for the service. So basically like improvements in terms of rebuffering.And like in the order of 10, 15 percent.
Troy: That’s pretty significant.
Baptiste: It is pretty significant.
Troy: So the idea is that if viewers don’t have to rebuffer, if they have a better experience, they’re going to be happier and watch longer.
Troy: So you’re saying that you’re seeing significant quality improvements with DASH.
Troy: Well, fantastic, you know. Keep people watching longer. That’s the idea, right?
Baptiste: Mm-hm. It is.
Troy: Okay. So very happy with DASH at Hulu?
Baptiste: Yeah. Big success for us.
Troy: Okay. Excellent. Well, thank you for joining me, Baptiste, and this is Troy Dreier coming to you almost live from Streaming Media East.
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