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Key Challenges of Video Service Delivery in 2021

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Learn more about the state of streaming at Streaming Media East Connect 2021.

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Tim Siglin: Here we talk about the challenges that people have with their video service delivery. And we have the usual suspects of latency, video quality, buffering, channel change times, and scalability. So let's go to the slide, Eric, that actually gives the the pie chart results on this. Far and away, a major concern is being able to maintain video quality. ain fact, I'll be moderating a panel later today around this very question for video quality, but scalability is a concern. Buffering is a concern. What we really see as the two major issues consistently are latency and video quality. Latency is especially important from a live standpoint. Obviously, from an on-demand standpoint, it doesn't really matter, but video quality is an important consideration across the board, Rob, what's your take on this?

Robert Gambino: This is another one that doesn't really surprise me. Harmonic comes a really rich history in video compression technology. Cloud technology aside, this is an area where we're especially authoritative, there's been some really great technology updates in the industry in general to deal with these problems. So, video quality, when it comes to streaming is a function of a couple of different things. It's how much time do you want to spend actually looking at the video to encode it, which can increase your latency from source to screen. And how much do you want to compress it? How much visual artifact do you want to introduce into that video to reduce the amount of bandwidth that you're consuming?

The really great advent here is content-aware encoding, using things like machine learning or artificial intelligence to be aware of what it is that's happening in a scene where the important bits are, and being able to determine, on the fly, which of those things in the scene you really need to dedicate those bits to vs. what's in the background. What can I really just cut bits from without people noticing? Real results that we've seen in this area are that you can get bandwidth savings of 30 to 50% on really high-rez content without losing any quality that the human eye can see, which is really great for anyone that's looking to do streaming online these days. On the latency side, you can do a lot of that with low latency encoding.

You've also got new advents in the actual streaming containers themselves. So things like low-latency HLS or low-latency DASH, where they're focused on delivering that video as quickly as possible, so that you're not lagging behind a traditional TV experience, or even some tangential benefits like channel change time. That was huge when online streaming first became a thing. Having to wait 30 seconds to change a channel was really painful. And now we've got that down to a place that I think is really competitive with a normal set-top box delivered over traditional means.

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