Key Findings: Wowza 2019 Streaming Latency Report
Learn more about low-latency video at Streaming Media East.
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Tim Dougherty: Wowza got in touch with people in the industry, some of our customers, and we did a Video Streaming Latency Report. We talked to 391 broadcasters. It doesn't look like that many; it's a lot. We asked them a ton of questions, and so we got into some really interesting topics. We realized first off that so much of this is about interactivity, and you can see that we broke it down here. Live sports is certainly number one in terms of when latency matters most. I mean, who wants to be in their apartment, or watching a game on broadcast, and they hear people cheering down the hall who may have been watching it on a lower-latency service? Or maybe you're watching it on Twitter and the people on broadcast are hearing at first. Nobody wants that. They want to hear it first.
eSports. I could easily segue on to eSports, because I went to TwitchCon. I shouldn't have gone to TwitchCon, but I learned a lot. I'll keep going. Video and audio chat, gambling. Gambling is really a fascinating part of the streaming business. A lot of it--if not all of it--happens overseas. Auctioning, interactive applications, OTT.
You can see that there's some pretty important verticals for low latency and interactive use cases, but the one I'm driving toward is the gray bar on the bottom, which is "Other." This is where it gets kind of fun, because you can kind of get in touch with some of these use cases. This is where people who are starting video companies are creating applications. They want that interactivity. I'm working with a company right now that does live meditation, which is somewhat of a unique use case, but they need that interactivity. Healthcare. I'm working with another case right now where a company is actually learning how to monitor premature babies that are in a clinic in areas of the world where there aren't doctors. They need to know that instant ... If the baby moves, they need to see it right now.
I thought weddings was an interesting one. Do you really need low latency for a wedding? I guess some people do. Surveillance, obviously drones--I sure hope we have low latency with drones, especially those who do it for EMS and surveillance and such, because you have got to know what you're doing there. So as you can see there's just several kinds of cool niche areas where you can apply low latency.
What's the most important factor for low latency? First, they want high-quality video. You can't sacrifice quality anymore for low latency. You can't say, "Well, it's pixelated, but it's really fast." Viewers don't appreciate high-quality video--they expect it.
Ability to scale. Obviously. If you're scaling using a propriety protocol like Wowza Streaming Engine, for example, and you're not using a CDN, you're going to have to buy a whole lot of instances of software, which is very costly. That's a good way to go; we're happy to sell you the software. But it needs to be able to scale. Low end-to-end latency. We've covered that. Real-time interactivity.
How are they currently doing it today? Most people are doing it by cheating. I like to call it "cheating," but I say that objectively. Watching those quick one-second segments, that's how most people are doing it today. There's also real-time protocols. People are still using RTMP. People are still using our RTSP, which is super-fast. It's not chunk-based. It's just straight, good old-fashioned streaming. I talked to a guy today who used to work for RealNetworks. Anybody remember that? Download RealPlayer. Those same technologies are still alive. I'm kind of proud of that.
There are also proprietary solutions. Videon has a really cool one that uses Amazon S3. I've never had the time to actually check it out. Wowza uses a proprietary solution called WebSockets. We can get video in the browser delivered very fast. There's a handful of them out there,
How do they plan to reduce it in the future? 12% of the people are still going to do that short segment duration, which is a viable option. People will still use their RTMP. Good luck in 2020 using RTMP. Maybe you can backdate the date on your computer. I don't know. Maybe there's a way to cheat it. But RTMP is Flash. It requires the Flash plug-in, and the major browser platforms, particularly Chrome, are saying "no more Flash." HTTP low-latency--which is essentially the low-latency HLS--is something I haven't even mentioned until this very moment. Apple has taken and released a spec that can take that chunk, that 10-second chunk, and then break it down into little segments.
And we're working on that. I think we're going to be one of the first people to get it to market on a streaming server. That's where the player can actually get little tiny segments of a chunk. It's fascinating technology. It's very new, and I believe that's where this is all going to end up. When low-latency HLS matures, we're going to all be using it. We ought to, because it's universal--it plays on the devices, it plays in the browser. We don't have it playing in the browser quite yet, but we're getting there. And then there are also still going to be the very valid, very useful proprietary solutions.
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