This is the first installment in a series of posts that discuss various challenges of online video and how Akamai's Sola Media Solutions can be used to address those challenges.
Live video streaming has become an increasingly important part of the web content universe, as a variety of businesses and organizations attempt to capture 'share of eyeball' and deliver richer, more HDTV-like experiences. From breaking news, to live sports, to video promotions, to historic events like Felix Baumgartner's recent jump from space, more and more people all over the world are counting on live, real-time access via streaming video on virtually every platform, from traditional browsers to mobile devices.
The broad adoption of social media increases the likelihood of rapid, almost instantaneous audience growth. With a few tweets and re-tweets of a live event link, huge audience spikes are easily made possible. If the delivery solution has not been architected for this rapid viewer scaling, the risk of playback failure is high.
At the same time, the quality expectations of these ever-increasing audiences continue to grow. Not only is HD quality for online video desired - it is becoming the de-facto standard for all viewing experiences, from HDTV home viewing to "anywhere" viewing on mobile devices with "better than HD" quality displays.
Increasing broadband penetration and faster devices make high-quality viewing experiences possible, but network latency issues and heavy traffic loads can often result in disappointing video streaming performance, with frequent pauses for rebuffering. And the multitude of viewers engaging via mobile devices on cellular networks creates its own set of challenges.
Optimizing the end user experience is critical to ensure adoption and user satisfaction with video streaming efforts. Concerns include:
- overall server capacity, which determines how many requests can be accommodated simultaneously without performance/availability degradation.
- server proximity to the viewer, to minimize the chance of quality issues due to backbone congestion.
- network capacity, which determines delivery throughput and resiliency in the face of both direct user traffic and global Internet traffic loads.
- ensuring content is coded and delivered appropriately for the best possible quality on a range of devices and browsers, from HD-quality TV experiences in the home to smartphones.
- preventing playback freezes in the face of dramatic changes in available last-mile bandwidth over the course of the playback period.
- protecting content from unauthorized viewers and supporting subscription/paid access business models.
Akamai's Sola Media Experience portfolio offers a global media workflow and delivery platform that simplifies and optimizes live video streaming. Built on the power and reach of Akamai's Intelligent Platform, it is designed to provide the capacity, performance and security necessary to deliver a high-quality viewing experience across both traditional browser and mobile environments.
In addition to providing streaming capacity and quality-enhancing performance, Akamai's Sola Media Experience portfolio also offers sophisticated monitoring and analytics, which deliver unmatched insight into real-world, end user streaming video performance. These insights can fuel continual performance optimization efforts, as video streaming providers seek to both improve end user experiences and manage costs.
Read more about the benefits of Akamai's Sola Media Experience family and find out how Akamai can help you overcome the challenges of live video streaming and audience quality monitoring for a global audience across multiple device types.