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Netflix Sees Cost Savings in MPEG DASH Adoption

"The biggest advantage to us of a standard like MPEG DASH is that everything can be encoded one way and encapsulated one way, and stored on our CDN servers just once. That's a benefit both in terms of saving our CDN costs from a storage perspective and a benefit because you have greater cache efficiency," said Mark Watson, senior engineer for Netflix.

Watson made his comments in a red carpet interview at the recent Streaming Media West conference in Los Angeles, shortly before taking part in a panel on the MPEG DASH specification (which, at the time, had yet to be ratified). MPEG DASH would be a great help to Netflix, he said, because then it could avoid saving several different copies of its entire movie and TV show library.

While there are several different profiles defined in MPEG DASH, Netflix will use the on-demand profile, Watson said, because all of its online content is on-demand. Between the two types of stream segments defined -- MPEG-2 Transport Streams and fragmented MP4 files -- Netflix sides with fragmented MP4. It works well for adaptive streaming and is simpler, he offered.

Netflix, Watson said, contracts with multiple CDNs and allows the client devices to determine which works best for them at any time. The company is also sensitive to the amount of traffic it's putting across networks.

"We are working directly with a number of different ISPs to help them deal with this traffic we're creating and come up with solutions that can be beneficial to all of us," said Watson.

The biggest challenge facing Netflix is the Internet itself, since there's no way to guarantee the traffic conditions. The best the company can do, Watson said, is try to adapt.

"The range of different things that happen, from users' home networks and competition on the home network, through the access network, all the way down to the data centers that the CDNs have, it's just enormous the number of different things that can happen. Making sure that the algorithms can cope with that and that everybody gets a good experience is one of the harder parts of the delivery piece," Watson said.

Scroll down to view the entire interview.

These Streaming Media Red Carpet Interviews are sponsored by Front Porch Digital.

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