Within the media industry, we've been told for years that "content is king". With the quickly evolving OTT landscape, I'd argue that the industry is now looking more like a diarchy than a monarchy, with "quality" serving as a second but equal king.
Recently at the Akamai Edge Customer Conference in Miami it was a pleasure to hear from and speak to representatives from some of the most influential media brands in the world. Again and again I continued to hear comments like...
"Video quality drives engagement time"
"Consumers have even higher expectations for video as it goes digital"
"Content drives subscriptions; quality impacts retention"
Here are three ways in which Akamai is focused on improving video streaming quality, and placing the end user experience at the center of what we do.
1. Platform investments
The continued investment in Akamai's intelligent platform is expanding the company's edge distribution strategy, which now includes over 200,000 servers and is located inside over 1,400 networks. The platform enables quality video delivery by bringing content closest to the end user. It bypasses peering points and reduces latency and packet loss while helping customers ensure the best possible end user video streaming experiences possible.
2. Extending the Akamai Edge towards audiences
The Akamai intelligent platform is the largest of its kind in the world, but Akamai isn't relying solely on linear investments in capacity to build out our core video delivery capabilities to achieve the scale required for future broadcast-size online audiences.
Instead, Akamai is innovating to leverage end user devices themselves. The Akamai edge is being extended to utilize software embedded on today's most popular viewing devices. Developing technology that leverages client-assisted delivery will help Akamai continue to enhance viewing quality, moving the Akamai edge ever closer to the end user. This strategy has sparked further exploration of future video delivery innovations including predictive prepositioning of content on consumer devices, multicast delivery for efficient delivery to large audiences, and peer-assisted delivery leverages end user devices to supplement streaming performance via nearby devices.
3. Mastery of transport protocols
Akamai approaches the grand challenge of delivering video over the internet at broadcast scale in a unique way. What sets Akamai apart is a multifaceted approach to enhancing delivery protocols.
Akamai acquired FastSoft in 2012 enabling optimized video throughput through "FastTCP algorithms," which ultimately increases the speed of video delivery to end users. For some, enabling this technology would be enough, but Akamai
decided to research, build and begin deploying UDP technologies. Earlier this year, Akamai acquired Octoshape, which brought on board UDP-based quality and scale technologies.
This dedication to mastery of delivery protocols has ultimately led to video streaming acceleration technologies for customers that get the reliability of TCP and the throughput of UDP. This results in the highest quality end user experiences with faster startups, less buffering and requires less adaptive bitrate shifting during playout.
As audiences continue to switch to digital platforms and mobile devices for TV viewing, Akamai customers understand they'll need to provide an ever better quality streaming experiences for broadcast-sized audiences in the near future.
Akamai is making significant investments to ensure that customers are able to deliver the highest quality streaming experiences at broadcast scale.