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Beyond Latency: Key Streaming Challenges of Microbetting and iGaming

Microbetting and iGaming are among the fastest-growing apps for livestreaming, and the need for lightning-quick-response interactivity makes ultra-low latency essential in those scenarios, with all its attendant challenges--especially in the arena where 5G is a must. But what other issues do streaming professionals need to consider regarding iGaming and microbetting? Jason Thibeault, Executive Director, Streaming Video Technology Alliance, discusses with Robert Reinhardt, Streaming Solutions Architect, videoRx, and Darcy Lorincz, Chief Technology Officer, Barrett-Jackson Auction Company, in this clip from their panel at Streaming Media Connect 2023.

Thibeault says, “Obviously, latency is a problem that needs to be addressed. It's sometimes going to be great, sometimes bad. You can do a lot of dial knob turning and flip switching to get it better, but that's not the only technical challenge for supporting use cases like microbetting.” He asks Reinhardt, “Can you talk about…some of the technical challenges that a provider of microbetting might face in addition to latency?”

Reinhardt says that one aspect many people don’t or won’t consider is the basic quality of an end user’s connection. “Not everyone may be able to participate based on what they have,” he says. “I think that's not an answer stakeholders want to hear, that there's going to be a limitation potentially of people who can participate.” He emphasizes that vetting a user’s connection should be a primary initial step, and he recalls an earlier period of his career when he worked on real-time AV solutions for real-time video streaming. “I remember one of the first streaming players I built with broadcast when I was VP of Multimedia Applications, for ABC's first full episode streaming player. That was when Lost and Desperate Housewives was out, and they specifically didn't want to have anything under 800 kilobytes, and that was a long time ago. 800 kilobytes was a pretty high bar for the lowest common denominator. And the player would just say, ‘Sorry, you don't have enough bandwidth to even support our lowest quality. You're not going to be able to participate in this.’ So I only use that as a [comparison] to what I think is going to be interesting when it comes to just how successfully microbetting becomes integrated in greater environments.”

Reinhardt says that 5G Ultra Wideband will likely be a great first step towards streamlining large-scale microbetting. “I know [the Phoenix Suns] has been partnered with Verizon with the multi-camera views in stadium events. That makes a lot of sense to me because you're removing a whole lot of uncertainty there. If everyone has the same last-mile connection, then you're going to have a lot of guarantee behind what's happening there. And I think when it comes to the greater global audience and whatever internet connection they might have, that's just it. Even our 4G and 5G connections aren't static.”

He says that as a developer and coder, he believes the most overlooked aspects in development are error detection and handling. “Just because you were vetted at the beginning of an experience doesn't mean that you're going to be good throughout the experience,” he says. “You have to continually check in with that client to make sure that they're still satisfying all the conditions that you initially had going in. And those are the kind of dotting your I's and crossing your T's that I see overlooked with smaller scale projects, where they're trying to enter into the foray of building out solutions that require more resources to be successful with it.”

Thibeault asks Lorincz for his thoughts on the issue.

Lorincz says that the live gaming industry has greatly helped to elevate real-time streaming technology. He notes that while an end user’s specific connection situation can unpredictable and erratic based on many factors, “I do like 5G. I think it takes first, last, and middle mile and everything [else] and puts it into one technology band. Doesn't mean it's great yet, but when we see gamers playing and they're connected to a Verizon or AT&T or Singtel 5G network, then there is no customer premises equipment (CPE) in the home that's creating some latency.”

Lorincz notes that one major issue is the need for encryption for privacy and security. “Of course privacy and security and everything comes in when you're talking about money,” he says. “So when you add encryption and now you've got a whole other layer of stuff to worry about and depends on who the provider is.” Still, he says, “I like the idea that we're going to have some homogenous network and we've got enough network touch points now. We can measure things in real time as well as deliver in real time. So I think it's getting better, and gaming has made all that happen. Every one of these tournaments that happens [with] these remote gamers and there's millions of dollars on the line, we had to figure that stuff out. And we're just seeing more of that gaming technology become more of the streaming world.”

Learn more about a wide range of streaming industry topics at the next Streaming Media Connect in November 2023.

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