Removing the complexity from live streaming: how to get your video to your viewers across a diverse range of devices

By Paul Heitlinger, Product Manager, Live Streaming

If you want to stream video to multiple devices today, which format do you use?

One of the biggest problems we hear from companies is how to reliably reach the myriad of connected devices available today – without adding to the cost and complexity of transcoding multiple times and into multiple formats.

The streaming industry today relies on different formats from different vendors to reach different devices. Those prevalent formats include:

  • Apple’s HLS for iOS devices
  • Adobe RTMP and HDS for desktop (with Flash) and Android
  • Microsoft Smooth Streaming for desktop (with Silverlight) players

On top of that, MPEG-DASH and HEVC are looming on the horizon as emerging codecs.

Traditionally, if your viewers use multiple devices such as desktop PCs and Macs, iOS, Android, and CE devices such as Roku and Xbox, you need to transcode in at least two formats.

With more and more viewers watching video on mobile devices, you’d also have to create between four to seven (we’ve seen requests for ten!) bit rate streams and resolutions to ensure that video can be viewed under all sorts of conditions (and varying connection speeds).

This would require investment in transcoders, licenses, hardware, network capacity (don’t forget you’d duplicate outputs for each format) and associated operational expense in supporting all that hardware and software:

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Then you hoped that everything just worked. Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn’t. The following quote, taken from an article on Pando.com, sums up what unfortunately still happens way too often:

We paid for the […] service, bought the $500 […] box to encode the stream, and proceeded to spend countless hours wrestling with said equipment when everything failed. The stream would crash; the audio would stop working; or a chunk of the program would play in an endless loop. There was a handy comment section, so we could track how pissed off all our viewers were and watch the numbers tick down as people stopped watching.

That shouldn’t be the experience.

In an ideal world, you would only need to encode once and stream to multiple devices using the same format. This reduces

  • Cost (no capex and development)
  • Complexity (only one format)
  • Risk (less things to go wrong)

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That’s the approach we have taken with our streaming solution. Our service is a cloud-based, digital media platform that can simplify your acquisition, transcoding and delivery workflows for VoD, Live Linear, and Live Events — ensuring optimal device compatibility and bit-rate-resolution decisions.

Verizon Digital Media Services supports over 50 different device platforms today. We then add in easy to use dynamic ad-insertion, live to VOD, closed captions, and encryption.

This just solved pretty much all of your streaming issues – leaving you to concentrate on your content rather than managing a transcoder server farm and the associated Capex, Opex and headaches that go with it.

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