How to Balance Encoding Bitrate and Streaming Quality
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Abdul Rehman: This is the hunt for the magic number. This is to simplify the delivery chain from source encode to John's TV. And the goal is to make John happy. That's the primary objective. But you don't want to waste bits and dollars, spending on additional bits.
I was talking to a customer who delivers video live video to millions of subscribers. And the question he had was exactly the same question that you just asked, and his answer, for the first part was, "Should I go high because I want to deliver as high quality as possible, and I have no constraints in terms of what I can produce?" So he started with delivering 8.5 Megabits per second, but ended up receiving a lot of complaints from viewers and getting delivery issues and other concerns.
Then he went back to the whiteboard and thought, "Okay, what numbers should I aim for? Maybe we should go lower and maybe I should go safer." So the next bet was, "Let's try 4.5 Megabits per second." At 4.5 Megabits per second, now you're voluntarily reducing quality of content, which means that you are compromising well beforehand. And that essentially means content is poor quality as it's being produced, and obviously it's being delivered in poor quality as well. But he got much better feedback the second time, because he did not have delivery issues that were reported.
So both of these aspects are important at the end of the day, and obviously source quality is important as well. That is the dilemma that we are dealing with here. What's that magical number? 4.5 is not a magic number; it's just what he picked by chance, and not based on any science. And that's the question that I would like to answer.
The explosive growth in OTT viewing is good news, right? Only if the industry keeps innovating to make sure quality of experience issues don't send people back to pay TV.