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It’s Time to Get Smart about ABR; It’s Time to #StreamQuality


May 10, 2018 - 0 Comments

Attending the Pay TV Show in Denver next week? If so, don’t miss Wednesday’s 1:40pm panel Streaming Video Everywhere: Quality & Reliability at Hyatt Regency in Denver, Colorado. 

I’ll moderate the discussion and we’ll dive deep into a wide range of technologies taking Adaptive Bit Rate streaming into the future. The panel will feature Clint Meeks of Sling TV, Michael Dale of Ellation, Kerry Travilla of MobiTV, and Jacques Le Mancq of Broadpeak. Here are Panel Details; Show info: www.PayTVShow.com

The stories below were written by Brian Ring, contributions by Eli Fuchs, Morten Rasmussen, Ori Lior, Fabio Souza, Yoav Schreiber & Adam Davies

This past New Year’s Eve, my family was invited to a party at a cabin in the mountains. Three generations enjoyed music, card games & food, and the fun grew as midnight approached. It was the kind of multi-sensory event that, according to recent cognitive science, builds robust, lasting memories.

Unfortunately, for at least forty of us, that imprint includes a continuous set of Playback Error messages on a 4K UHD HDR flat screen TV. The culprit? You guessed it: A Skinny Bundle. One of those OTT streaming everywhere services promising so much more than an SVOD catalogue.

 

Story two:

For the 2017 Baseball Playoffs, I took dramatic social media and text alert precautions to shield myself from an array of MLB spoilers.

What I neglected to anticipate was the fact that, due to the thirty-five seconds of latency which is characteristic of most OTT streams, I’d miss a Home Run in the 5th by simply walking from my Living Room (where I stream from a Roku) into my Bedroom (where I also had the game on, but Broadcasting from a Pay TV Set-top.) An edge case? Maybe. A bummer? Definitely.

 

Story number three:

Then there’s that super-geeky time that I tried to tally the number of buffering events experienced while viewing a game from an off-brand streaming stick. Only four minutes in, I reached twenty-two events and I simply had to quit. And by that, I mean both the stream-watching and the glitch-counting!

It’s not always that bad and these stories might be dismissed as too U.S. centric. But I have others — and I suspect you do too. (Write them up in the comments below! What’s it like to stream video elsewhere in the world?)

No matter where you live and what your connectivity is, the point remains:

We need to get smarter about ABR.

Those amazing moments – the Big Plays in crisp, clear video when they occur – not after buffering – those are the ‘video hits’ of sports adrenaline I’m glad to pay for every month. And when I miss the action due a streaming UX fail? It’s worse than FOMO. I call it POMB. The Pain Of Missing the Big-play. I haven’t quantified this yet, but I have a hunch that when too many POMBs accumulate, the result is immediate, irreversible churn.

SO, in the spirit of #StreamQuality, here are some recent ideas from the Cisco SP Video Software & Solutions business about how we can get smarter about ABR streaming.

  • A recent Cisco white paper on our patented SVQ metric details how Smart Rate Control for Virtual DCM optimizes the human-perceived quality of ABR encoding. Since SVQ has a high correlation to subjective video quality tests, requires no reference, and has low computational complexity, it is a great fit for both VOD and Live workflows — something other approaches miss.
    Dive into the cost savings & video quality stats here:  Video Quality for Live Adaptive Bit-Rate Streaming: Achieving Consistency and Efficiency
  • A recent Cisco post on the evolution of latency in ABR also describes several ways to reduce it. One clever trick? Chunked Transfer Encoding, which leverages the capabilities of HTTP/1.1 along with the Common Media Application Format to enable ‘sub-fragments’ of encoded ABR video to be distributed as soon as they are available without deviating from a standard segment duration, thus improving ABR player compatibility.
    Read more under ‘Act 3’ of this IBC 2017 post on reducing ABR latency in Four Acts.

Engage in the Comments Below

  • What is streaming like in your neck of the global woods?
  • Take our fun Twitter poll on Stream Quality – we’ll reveal the results at our Pay TV Show panel Wednesday May 16!

 

 



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