Interactive Video on the Rise: The State of Streaming Autumn 2021
While latency and interactivity have been important topics of conversation over the past few years, results from the recent State of Streaming Autumn 2021 survey—now available in a downloadable report—show that the combination of the two is driving many aspects of the streaming industry.
Sponsored by Millicast, hosted by Unisphere and Streaming Media, and crafted by the team at Help Me Stream Research Foundation, the new report is the fourth in a series of State of Streaming surveys launched approximately every six months during the pandemic. It covers trends as diverse as average monthly viewership, annual online-video-based revenues, and average data rates and resolutions, as well as business and technical challenges faced by your colleagues in the streaming media industry.
On the topic of interactivity, results show that—while expectations aren't necessarily for sub-second latency, at least not in all use cases—there's a joint trend towards live-event OTT and a continuing desire to host these live events, sometimes with interactivity, at scale.
While it's one thing to view the results of the State of Streaming Autumn 2021 survey as a single data point around interactivity, one of the benefits of a longitudinal group of surveys is the ability to spot trends across months and even years. That's especially key during a time of significant industry growth, which has been the case in 2020 and 2021.
"If we are to read any significance into the low-latency trend, we first have to examine whether or not the industry as a whole is shifting from a majority video on-demand (VoD) approach to a major live-event/live-linear approach," writes Michelle Fore-Siglin, principal analyst at Help Me Stream Research Foundation.
"Without that shift toward more live streaming, latency and interactivity conversations are simply academic," writes Fore-Siglin, noting that the Help Me Stream team "followed responses closely across all four State of Streaming surveys, and we're happy to report that the shift toward live streaming, even for traditional VOD content providers, continues to accelerate."
That shift is also borne out in other data points in the survey, as respondents detailed their average number of concurrent viewers as well as the continued growth in two key market verticals—religious organizations and education, both secondary and post-secondary—which rely heavily on live streaming. Education, in particular, also relies on interactivity to keep students engaged throughout a class period or lecture.
That need for both low latency and interactivity was made by Millicast's Ryan Jespersen during a keynote presentation in November, outlining the initial findings.
"There's this famous triangle in the streaming industry, with the three sides being latency, quality and scale," said Jespersen. "Some vendors would say you have to give up one of the three to be able to have the other two. I think that triangle is pretty much becoming obsolete, with some of the real-time streaming products you're seeing out in the market, where you can have extremely high quality, extremely low sub-second latency and extremely large scale."
One final note: Survey responses are from October 2021, which was a period in the pandemic where it appeared likely that trade shows and other international events were making a comeback.
Even so, when respondents were asked about their use of interactive services providers, responses indicated that online meeting tools continue to be actively used. This particular State of Streaming survey ranks interactive vendors, from the classic webconferencing services like Meet, Teams, or Zoom, to the at-scale low-latency providers like Wowza and Millicast.
The report can be downloaded here.
Streaming services are in a fragile state with decreasing profitability and subscription numbers. Exclusive content and bundling with other services certainly help differentiate, but the key to winning the streaming wars is keeping viewers engaged through interactive features to avoid churn and to further maximize revenue. To do this properly, the technology employed must be in real-time and in sync so everyone can engage at the same time.
Every 6 months, we gauge the state of the streaming industry with a survey looking at monetization, audience sizes, video quality choices, and more. Take the survey and be entered into a drawing for an Oculus Quest 2. Survey closes Friday, May 12!
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