Cloud QC and Monitoring Solutions Drive Superior Streaming Experiences
A monumental shift is underway in the television industry—viewers are watching more OTT content than linear TV. A recent report from Convergence found that linear TV, including cable, satellite and telco TV, saw a 6% decrease in revenue to $94.7 billion in 2020. Linear TV revenues will drop another 6.5% in 2021 and 10% in 2023. The same report found that OTT is growing rapidly, with 2020 revenues hitting $29.6 billion, an increase of 35%. By 2023, OTT revenues are projected to reach $60 billion.
The evolution in consumer viewing habits has created a significant change in the way that video is being delivered. Broadcasters and service providers are providing video across a wide range of different screens and geographies, and the requirement for exceptional video quality and a seamless user experience has never been greater. As service providers navigate the complexities of OTT delivery, efficient, scalable, and cloud-ready monitoring and QC solutions are essential for ensuring exceptional service quality in media streaming workflows.
Cloud Workflows Usage Is Skyrocketing for OTT Delivery
On a global level, IT infrastructure is transitioning to the cloud to reduce capex and opex. The media industry’s transformation to the cloud is also being driven by the need to upgrade on-prem infrastructure every few years as enhancements to CPU and storage technologies become available. Media capex budgets are decreasing, and opex budgets are increasing. Many service providers are accessing infrastructure, platforms, and software as a service rather than purchasing additional software licenses.
In today’s media environment, making a significant upfront investment in infrastructure is not practical. The OTT business is very competitive, and it is difficult for OTT service providers to predict future revenues. The cloud-based model eliminates the need to invest heavily in infrastructure.
Another key advantage of operating a cloud-based workflow for OTT delivery is the ability to offload software installation and maintenance. Relying on the expertise of technology service providers to manage installations and provide maintenance, operators can focus on running their business and developing better content.
In general, the dynamic nature of OTT requires scalability, and cloud-based workflows address the need for instant scaling. With a cloud-based architecture, operators can scale up and down storage, media asset management, origin servers, CDN capacity, and other systems in the workflow, based on demand, without impacting performance. The scalability, flexibility, and elasticity of a cloud-based architecture allows OTT service providers to launch new services rapidly from anywhere in the world.
Why Choose a Cloud-based QC and Monitoring Workflow for OTT?
Today, it is critically important that OTT service providers deliver a superior QoE on every screen. Viewers want to watch content anytime, anywhere on any device. Given the competitive environment and various subscription choices customers have, it is imperative that video quality and the overall viewing experience are top-notch.
By deploying advanced QC and monitoring tools in a cloud environment, there are several specific benefits that OTT service providers can realize.
With OTT services, operators are not restricted to any particular geography. OTT inherently allows operators to reach audiences across oceans. Unlike traditional on-prem deployments that require substantial IT resources and maintenance, cloud-based QC and monitoring solutions can be installed via software on a virtual machine that is located close to the viewers.
The advantage here is being able to perform comprehensive monitoring for the profile that best suits a specific geography. For example, in certain geographies or for certain types of VOD, operators might only want to offer their services in only a few select bit rates. It’s also important to keep in mind that for OTT services, customized testing is critical. In different geographies, operators need to abide by various local regulations. For example, in Europe, audio loudness is regulated by a different standard than in the U.S. Cloud-based QC and monitoring solutions are geographically distributed, enabling increased flexibility and compartmentalized testing.
Cloud-based monitoring lends itself to a more intelligent and efficient way to track service quality metrics. Under a centralized monitoring approach, data is aggregated from different software probes in the video streaming workflow into a single location. By providing a consolidated, single-screen view of both linear and OTT workflows, centralized monitoring solutions make error detection and isolation faster and more efficient.
Centralized monitoring solutions provide operators with detailed reports and stats about the performance of OTT delivery in various geographies, while also providing unique insights into the quality of each service being delivered.
Cloud-based monitoring probes can be deployed on demand, ensuring service providers are able to deliver premium events and VOD assets to a broader global audience. Having the flexibility to deploy monitoring probes on-demand is a feature that is unique to cloud-based monitoring solutions.
Exploring Hybrid Workflows
For some applications, a cloud QC and monitoring deployment may not be practical. For instance, content security on the cloud may be a concern for OTT service providers.
Nowadays, cloud platforms offer greater security than they used to. However, some media companies may choose to adopt a hybrid workflow for certain content, depending on where it’s being distributed and what type of security is needed.
In today’s video-streaming-centric world, cloud OTT monitoring solutions are vital to staying competitive and meeting the demand for high-quality video content on every screen. Cloud-based monitoring and QC solutions with centralized visibility into QoE and QoS issues reduce capex and are empowering OTT service providers to deliver a superior quality of experience. The result: OTT service providers can boost viewer satisfaction, increase customer loyalty, minimize churn, and increase profits.
Broadcasting has been behind streaming in its embrace of the cloud, but the rewards of making the switch can be significant. We talk to executives from American Public Television, WarnerMedia, Paramount+, and Streaming Global to get their take on why you should make the change if you haven't already.