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Video: What Are the Challenges of Live OTT?

In this excerpt from his presentation at Streaming Media West 2016, NetInsight Founder and SVP Per Lindgren discusses the latency and synchronization challenges content providers face when trying to deliver a successful live OTT viewer experience. Check out Lindgren's further insights on Live OTT delivery in Part 2 of this series, How to Deliver True OTT.

Learn more about live OTT delivery at Streaming Media East.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

What are the challenges of delivering live OTT? In a report from last year, a report from Unisphere research said that reduced latency is the most wanted OTT improvement. It breaks social interaction, spoils the excitement, and makes enhanced second-screen experiences difficult.

Per Lindgren: Latency is definitely important. When we are looking at today's platforms, where do the latencies sit? After the transcode where you get the different ABR proof file, it starts to go into the packet share, chunking up the video into chunks. Here, typically, is the first part that adds delay to do the OTT service. And typically, we're talking about one to two segments of delay, sometimes even more depending on the implementation.

So, in a typical default implementation where you have chunk sizes or segment sizes of 10 seconds, it adds 10-20 seconds of delay. Of course, you can optimize this by taking down the chunk sizes. With HLS, the minimum today is 2 seconds. So, then you can reduce it. Then you go into the actual CDN infrastructure with the origin cache and the edge caches, that may add a couple of seconds of delay, depending on the infrastructure and architecture of your CDN.

Typically, if you look at HLS, for example, it stipulates that you need to add 3 segments of buffering in the client. Of course, if you had the default value of 10 seconds, that adds another 30 seconds. The typical value here adds up to around 40-60 seconds. That's typically what you see when you start the normal play service: somewhere between a half a minute to a minute behind the broadcast you see on television.

The other issue is synchronization. So, this is typically start-up delays when you start your play service. Then after a while, especially if you're looking at longform content like sports, where you're watching perhaps an hour or two hours, after perhaps a half an hour, you might have added another minute to your delay. So even if you start at the same time, depending on the infrastructure and the packet network conditions, you can add significant delays from the start-up delay. And in HLS, it stipulates that the maximum delay you can add on the client side is 50 minutes.

Why is extending the delay in the normal synchronized delivery important, or a challenge, or an issue? One reason social. Today, more and more people watching live content, are also at the same time engaging in social activity. That could be anything from Facebook to chatting, emails, or Twitter. At last year's Super Bowl, there were 28.4 million tweets and more than 185 million Facebook mentions during game time. If you add all the chat, online, and SMS messages and emails going back and forth, and you remember also that last year's Super Bowl was very exciting up to the last minute, it could really spoil the whole event if you got an SMS or a text message before you had seen on it on your device.


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