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Streaming Goals 2022: Lower Latency, Bigger Audiences, More Ad Revenue

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The global video streaming market is expected to grow from $419.03 billion in 2021 to $932.29 billion by 2028 at a CAGR of 12.1%. As the streaming industry grows, technology advances are making a huge impact on service providers, operators, businesses, consumers, and the entire video streaming ecosystem. Now that we're already several months into 2022, let's look at what video innovations, trends and technology are emerging for video streaming. 

Scalability Will Improve for Low-Latency DASH and HLS

In 2022, scalability will increase for video streaming. To understand why, here's some context. Today's video service providers are using DASH and HLS as the main formats to transmit streaming video to consumers' internet-connected devices using a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) delivery method. 

Low latency transmission of DASH and HLS (i.e., LL-DASH and LL-HLS) has been around for several years and is effective at reducing latency to under 5 seconds. Prior to the low-latency versions of DASH and HLS, latencies came in the range of 30 to 60 seconds, which can feel like a lifetime to viewers during live or interactive events. Both methods transmit video data by carving it up into small independent chunks without overlap, enabling video to be played out in near real time. As soon as the first chunks of video are ready, they are sent to players and devices. As more chunks become available, they are requested and quickly played, resulting in reduced delays.

One of the biggest obstacles for LL-DASH and LL-HLS adoption is scalability, as more exchanges are needed with the edge caches. LL-HLS requires four times more request messages and an optimized content delivery network (CDN) infrastructure to be successful. Several major sports events have already been streamed to global audiences this year, including the Beijing Winter Games. The FIFA World Cup in Qatar is another highly anticipated and key global sporting event that will be streamed across the world. During these events, the industry can finally perform large-scale testing of LL-DASH and LL-HLS and assess whether the formats can improve live streaming quality for mass simultaneous audiences. The solution lies in leveraging CDNs to optimize LL-DASH and LL-HLS streaming. With a CDN, segments can be cached at the edge to simplify scaling across the delivery network for large numbers of viewers. 

Interoperability Progress Will Be Made

While other delivery protocols can be used alongside HLS and DASH, compatibility between the protocols is critical for reliability purposes. The Common Media Application Format (CMAF) was created to help video service providers maintain low latency. CMAF is gaining traction; however, legacy transport streams are still widely used with low latency variations. For the implementation of low latency CMAF to be successful, interoperability within the streaming ecosystem is important.

Each aspect of the video streaming ecosystem, including CDNs, players and encoders, needs to support CMAF. Moreover, the wide range of available players (i.e., phones, tablets, STBs, smart TVs, game consoles) and standards (i.e., native apps, HTML5, open-source, proprietary) must offer interoperability.

Progress will be made this year on this front from organizations such as DASH Industry Forum and CTA Wave. However, there's still work to be done on ensuring interoperability with DRM (CENC using CBCS), CMAF low latency and DAI technology, all combined at the same time, on a wide variety of devices.

Video Streaming Will Continue to Break Viewing Records

The 2022 Super Bowl was the most streamed NFL big game of all time, with a record 11.2 million viewers reported by NBCUniversal. This year's Winter Games in Beijing also set streaming records. NBCUniversal announced that 4.3 billion minutes were streamed across digital and social media. 

Live events are popular with streaming audiences; however, spikes in viewing have a tendency to put pressure on the video streaming ecosystem, especially when exclusive rights are isolated to a single video streaming platform. 

This year, multi-CDN will increasingly be leveraged to improve the quality of experience (QoE) for live streaming. In addition, it is expected that caching inside ISP networks will be used to alleviate bottlenecks. The Open Caching Specification created by the Streaming Video Alliance solves this issue by streaming from local caches. In order to take advantage of local caching and to scale traffic, video service providers need a solid cloud infrastructure. Deployments are already happening today with the 5G MEC (Mobile Edge Computing), but Multi-access Edge Computing residing in the fixed network is needed to perform the CDN function.

Ad-Based Streaming Content, Including AVOD and FAST, Will Grow

Over the last few years there has been an explosion in viewership for ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) content globally. Four of the biggest AVOD platforms in the U.S. generated $3.5 billion in advertising revenue in the 12 months leading up to September 2021. 

As viewership for AVOD and FAST soars, we expect that these platforms will offer a growing amount of original content, similar to SVOD, especially in international markets. They will also provide to more premium live content, including professional sports. Moreover, consumer demand for personalization will drive FAST services to adapt their lineups to viewer preferences. 

Conclusion

Video streaming is making massive strides in its evolution. Not only are we witnessing an increased consumer demand for live event streaming, but premium and personalized content on AVOD and FAST channels is growing too, giving a major boost to service providers' revenue streams. We know that consumers today expect an exceptional QoE on every screen, and the industry is working together to make that happen by improving ecosystem interoperability and by utilizing low-latency delivery formats with edge caching built to scale.

[Editor's note: This is a contributed article from Harmonic. Streaming Media accepts vendor bylines based solely on their value to our readers.]

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