The Arrival of OTT Live Video

Video-on-demand streaming systems have drastically changed how video content is monetized, delivered, and consumed. Over-the-top (OTT) distribution platforms have completely evolved customer expectations for content, driving greater demand for an ever-higher quality of experience—and this demand for quality is now impacting a long-held mainstay of broadcast TV: live events.

According to Forbes, 2017 saw tremendous consumer growth in streaming TV services, and 2018 is set to be even bigger. This year, eMarketer estimates that 181.5 million U.S. consumers will use connected TVs at least once every month—equating to more than 55% of the U.S. population—and by 2021, that number will expand to 194.4 million, which is almost 58% of the population.

Today, every major television outlet is in the midst of launching or advancing their direct-to-consumer VOD streaming services. Consumers now have more control and choice than ever, and the industry is becoming fiercely competitive in its quest for high-quality content to keep viewers. According to Parks Associates, there are over 200OTT services in the U.S. market, and that number is increasing rapidly.

Setting the Stage for Live OTT Streaming

Video-on-demand (VOD) systems have erased content delivery barriers and have paved the way for almost limitless service options. It is now possible to distribute a wide range of content for different devices, such as SD and HD in various resolutions. As broadcasters and program providers work to upgrade and improve their systems, the next frontier for OTT and direct-to-customer streaming will be in delivering high-quality live content.

With rapid innovation and the acceleration of new features and services coming to market, the advancement and acceptance of cloud-based live streaming will shift from leading-edge adoption to mass consumption in record time—and quality of experience will be the differentiating factor for consumers and providers alike.

While early adopters of live streaming accepted convenience over quality, capturing market share now requires meeting the quality expectation of the average cable TV consumer for live content. Ranging from interface performance and convenience, to pricing, to video and audio quality, the total quality of experience is foremost in mind with consumers. Customers are looking for a provider that can deliver both the convenience and quality they demand. Quality compromise is no longer an option.

Tools for Assuring a High QoE

Early streaming providers introduced live services quickly to establish market share and test customer acceptance. Owing to that development approach, even now some providers only have basic data that “something is going out.” Except for setting up a local Roku box, these providers don’t have any visibility of content quality until something major happens. It’s like waiting until your car breaks down before addressing issues; there are no tools in place to proactively monitor the content or quickly perform diagnostics and troubleshooting. Within an environment that’s become all about the quality of experience, this is not a good go-to-market strategy.

Live cloud streaming networks and workflows are very complex. Operators are bringing new services to market at rapid speed and are innovating with new features and updates even faster. This combination of complexity and rapid evolution on a still-maturing platform is a combination that naturally leads to streaming issues.Recently, for example, a large provider had a major issue during a live prime-time game, and it took more than an hour to find and fix the issue. Many customers dropped off and went somewhere else.

In the VOD and live streaming market, a provider’s brand is defined in terms of the quality of the content delivered. The key to success here is proper monitoring. Providers must leverage a system that detects, alerts and reports on critical customer-impacting issues.The goal is to give departments tasked with quality a single tool for monitoring assets and network performance, regardless of whether the distribution and delivery network is linear or multi-profile streaming.

One solution is to utilize software-based architecture, which allows for high levels of flexibility in where and how information can be accessed. It also makes it possible to customize what is reported and when it is delivered.

Customization can be invaluable for providers. In any buildout for monitoring, the key is finding a way to receive aggregate data and analytics that will also provide a comprehensive network overview. Identifying a common and consistent set of measurements to simplify diagnosis and reduce the time to remedy complex issues is critical to supplying users with a high level of quality content.

Simply put, engineering personnel must be supplied with a range of in-depth measurements and analysis to ease fault diagnosis on reported issues. This allows managers and technicians to quickly react before the end customer notices a problem, allowing businesses to avoid costly impacts of viewer dissatisfaction.

Low Barrier to Entry, High Cost of Failure
Millions of consumers have a VOD service like Netflix now, and the quality is very similar to what we would consider broadcast quality. Catalyzed by that exposure, the expectations of quality for live event streaming have changed.

In the early days of live streaming, customers who were away from a broadcast were just happy to be able to watch and track a game or live event remotely on their smartphone, laptop, or other device. The consumer accepted the fact that a cloud-based, internet-broadcast remote event would have issues. But now the expectation is for much greater reliability and a level of quality equivalent to broadcast television.

For providers to deliver on this promise, it’s critical to have proactive tools that can detect issues before the customer sees it. Today, quality is both a differentiator and a detriment. It’s no longer a commodity. It’s easy for customers to take advantage of free trials to test various providers to see which they like best. It’s also easy for customer to switch between providers looking for a better experience.

Of course, streaming providers can tell that they’re sending information out. The switches and network can verify that millions of packets went out, but they can’t see the content. Even if you know that data is moving, that doesn’t mean it looks good. Providers are realizing that they need to instrument for proactive stream quality and reliability. There’s an incredible level of competition—and it’s only going to increase.

read more here:

Streaming Records Are Set Every Day

The 2018 World Cup was the most streamed sports event in history. Concurrent streamers, peak bandwidth used, and authenticated viewers all smashed existing records.

What you need to know

FOX authenticated streaming set a record with 552,000 average-minute audience. The previous record was set for the 2018 NFC Championship game of 468,000.

vMVPDs saw record usage. Conviva, which handles 4-of-5 of the top vMVPDs, saw a record 9.12 million concurrent plays during the World Cup final. The previous record, 5.5 million, was set during the 2018 Super Bowl.

Akamai Technologies saw the peak bandwidth demand of 22.52 Tbps during the semi-final between France and Belgium. The record from the 2014 World Cup was 6.88 Tbps.

Bonanza for Fox Sports

Following the elimination of the US from the World Cup by a loss to Trinidad & Tobago in the qualification stage, Business Insider journalists hailed it as a disaster for FOX. How wrong could they have been! FOX paid $200 million for the rights to broadcast the tournament, and it looks like money well spent.

FOX and FS1’s World Cup coverage accounted for all of the top 20 shows among 18-49-year-old men during the last month of the 6-week tournament. The final between France and Croatia was the most watch non-NFL broadcast of any kind on FOX in 2018. It attracted an average audience of 11.8 million across FOX TV and streaming platforms. An even more remarkable achievement when you consider the game started at 11 AM Eastern, 8 AM Pacific.

The final also set streaming records. It attracted an average-minute audience of 552,000 on FOX’s streaming platforms. The 2018 NFC Championship game, which previously held the record as the largest authenticated Sunday event on FOX attracted 468,000.

Other games attracted even larger average-minute authenticated streaming audiences:

Croatia-England Semifinal: 830,000
France-Belgium Semifinal: 657,000
Brazil-Belgium Quarterfinal: 615,000

vMVPDs deliver

When the 2014 World Cup played out in Brazil, the only way to watch every game was through a pay TV operator. In the four years since, vMVPDs like YouTube TV, Sling TV, and DirecTV Now have acquired millions of subscribers. Each of the top vMVPDs carried Fox, FS1, and FS2 allowing subscribers not to miss a moment of World Cup action.

Conviva counts 4 of the top 5 vMPVDs as customers, giving it a unique view of how the industry is progressing. The company’s previous live streaming record occurred during the 2018 Super Bowl, which garnered 5.5 million peak concurrent plays. The 2018 World Cup final almost doubled that, with 9.12 million peak concurrent plays.

Conviva also tracks stream play attempts and the resulting successful plays.[i] The final between France and Croatia was the most streamed game, attracting 41.2 million attempts resulting in 34.9 million plays.

The World Cup was also a boon to vMVPD sign-ups. fuboTV, which has staked its claim as the sports leader among the vMVPDs, has a record 900,000+ app downloads during the tournament. The fubo TV app was the #3 most downloaded app in the App Store during the July 2 Brazil-Mexico match. The FOX and Telemundo apps took the top two spots.

Overall, vMVPDs performed very well during the World Cup. There was only one major incident. YouTube TV went down for an hour just before the second half of the England-Croatia semi-final match.

read more here:

Wired Magazine Introduces New Streaming TV Channel

As the new month ushered in, Wired Magazine launched its first streaming TV channel. This is the publisher’s response to the over-the-top (OTT) video environments increasingly becoming the norm.

Starting July 1, viewers can access Wired’s streaming channel on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Apple TV. The service will also be available on Roku beginning next week.

Condé Nast, Wired’s parent organization, had the streaming video channel already as part of its agenda for this year. The TV channel is one of a series and Wired is the first one of them.

Kimberly Kelleher, Condé Nast’s brand executive for Pitchfork, Wired Media Group, Golf Digest and GQ, revealed that Condé Nast views online streaming as an opportunity to reach more audience.

She affirmed that the publishing company is mindful of the people’s increasing usage of connected TV devices. In addition, the company understands that consumers nowadays prefer the on-demand TV experience. So in response, it introduced streaming video channels.

Bon Appétit, the culinary magazine, and GQ, the men’s magazine published monthly, will also have their streaming TV channels slated to be launched in 2019.

Wired’s streaming TV channel includes the most popular shows and videos from the magazine’s website and YouTube channel. Among these shows are “Technique Critique,” “Almost Impossible,” and “Autocomplete Interviews.”

As the publication celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, more TV shows and licensed films are lined up for its streaming TV channel.

Small and middle-tier streaming TV channels struggle with viewers who refuse to give them the time of day. This is due to the reality of an ocean of channels diminishing their probability of getting noticed. Roku alone is reported to offer over 5,000 channels on a wide array of categories.

Nonetheless, Alan Wolk, TVRev’s chief analyst, pointed out that Wired has the advantage of being a “solid brand.” He explained that the publisher does not have to contend with the dilemma of discoverability.

Wired is “fortunate that it’s a big enough name,” Wolk affirmed.

Kelleher is assured that Wired will be able to attract a lot of audiences and loyalty. Wired’s YouTube page is a testament to its success, boasting over 688 million video views every year and over 2.3 million subscribers.

Kelleher added that Wired met the requirements of connected TV platforms: trusted and high-grade brands and content attracting more viewers and help to build their image. Hence, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, and Roku, have all committed to advertising the streaming TV channel on their platforms.

read more here:

Facebook to stream live boxing

Golden Boy Promotions is launching a partnership with Facebook to bring live boxing and original programming to a global community of fans on the social media platform.

The first of five live fight nights on Facebook will debut on August 11th and will feature Jesus Rojas defending his WBA World Featherweight Title against Joseph “JoJo “Diaz Jr at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood. The second live fight will feature light heavyweight contender Sullivan Barrera against a soon-to-be announced opponent on August 18th from the Sands Casino Resort in Pennsylvania.

“This game-changing deal for the sport of boxing places Golden Boy Promotions and its stable of fighters at the intersection of live sports mega-casting and ultimate fan engagement. Our team is now positioned to present world-class boxing from Silicon Valley, to Madison Avenue, to Hollywood and to the rest of the world. The reach of Facebook is just incredible, and our sponsorship conversations will truly resonate with brands across all categories,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions.

Golden Boy Media and Entertainment will serve as the production entity producing the live fights and original programming. De La Hoya will serve as Executive Producer and will invoke his extremely high standards across the board and push for entirely new approaches to presenting the sport to the Facebook audience. For example, the live broadcasts will incorporate the real-time fan interaction and engagement made possible by Facebook’s social video platform.

“We’re thrilled to team with Golden Boy Promotions to make Facebook a home for championship-calibre boxing this year,” said Devi Mahadevia, North America Live Sports Programming Lead at Facebook. “Through this unique partnership, a global community of sports fans will have free access to some of boxing’s most exciting live bouts and be able to interact with the action like never before.”

read more here:


Viacom announced the launch of MTV Studios, a new unit that will develop new series for partners across SVOD and linear, with a focus on beloved shows, franchises and spin-offs that span MTV’s 35-year history.

MTV Studios’ initial slate includes a reimagined version of the feminist icon “Daria”; cult sci-fi hit “Aeon Flux”; groundbreaking reality series “The Real World”; and an update of the Emmy Award-winning coming of age unscripted series “Made.” The slate will also include two new titles including “The Valley” (working title) and “MTV’s Straight Up Ghosted.” Within this ecosystem, other brands follow this same strategy. Children’s channel Nickelodeon will produce for Netflix the new animated series “Pinky Malinky”.

In a blog post, the company said this branching out into third-party content production has been subtly underway for some time, both in the United States and abroad. Paramount Television, the production arm of Paramount Pictures, is producing “Jack Ryan”, which will debut in August in Amazon Prime, and has produced premium content like Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” and USA Network’s “Shooter”.

In May, Viacom International Studios (VIS) united the extensive production capabilities of wholly Viacom-owned Argentinian broadcaster Telefe and majority-owned Brazilian comedy brand Porta dos Fundos with Viacom’s Miami-based production operations, creating a multi-lingual machine that will develop, produce and distribute original content around the world. According to the company’s President and CEO Bob Bakish, “there is a lot of interest from SVOD partners in licensing library properties from MTV and Nickelodeon IP for brand-new interpretations”.

read more here:

Launch F1 TV OTT streaming service

Formula 1 is set to launch F1 TV, a live Grand Prix subscription service, early in the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.

F1 TV is Formula 1’s over the top (OTT) platform and marks F1’s biggest investment in its digital transformation to date. Pricing for F1 TV Pro will be offered on a monthly basis of between $8 and $12, and annual rates will be priced according to market.

F1 TV will offer commercial-free live streams of each race with multi language commentary. In addition, the service will provide access to all 20 driver on-board cameras throughout every race session. F1 TV Pro will have unique feeds not available on any other platform with the capability of multi-level personalisation.

Subscribers will be able to choose the content they view and how and when they access it. All of practice, qualifying and races, will be offered live, along with press conferences and pre and post-race interviews. Subscribers will be able to watch live races of the main support series, the FIA Formula 2 Championship, GP3 Series and Porsche Supercup, among others.

During the season, F1 TV will be made available in four different languages (English, French, German and Spanish) and will appear in nearly two dozen markets at launch (including Germany, France, USA, Mexico, Belgium, Austria, Hungary and much of Latin America). Access will initially be available through desktop and web, with mobile apps and TV apps being phased in on Amazon, Apple and Android.

A less expensive, non-live subscription tier, F1 TV Access will provide live race timing data and radio commentary, as well as extended highlights of each session from the race weekend. It will also be underscored by unprecedented access to archive video content from the historic archive owned by Formula 1. F1 TV Access will be available on a near-global basis at launch, to complement F1 TV Pro.

CDN and connectivity services to distribute the F1 TV content globally will be supplied by Tata Communications, Formula 1’s Official Connectivity Provider.

“With the launch of F1 TV, we are beginning on the journey to build a cornerstone of our digital transformation. F1 TV subscription products are clearly and centrally aimed at our hardest core fans, and we are firm believers that while we are bringing a new audience to the sport, we must always remain focused on delivering products and experiences that serve the most avid F1 fans,” said Frank Arthofer, Director of Digital and New Business, Formula 1.

“Our objective with F1 TV is simple: provide these fans with the best available service to watch live Grands Prix and provide them with the best sports OTT customer experience in the world. Our team and our partners are singularly focused on delivering on that vision: not just for launch but over the long-term. Live streaming video is an exciting space changing almost daily.”

read more here:

Study: Consumers resist paid live streaming

Despite predictions that live streaming television was going to be one of the hottest features in 2017, interest in this service has fallen flat. StreamOn, a new Cogent Reports study by Market Strategies International, has found that only 11 per cent of all streamers pay for live streaming television.

Nearly a dozen new name-brands entered the video streaming market in 2016, and virtually all of them offer and highlight live video streaming. With the exception of sports and news, Market Strategies International research shows that viewing live content is not in high demand as it is currently offered.

“TV providers are failing to recognise that the habits and needs of the viewer have dramatically changed, and the old rules of television no longer apply,” noted Greg Mishkin, vice president of research and consulting at Market Strategies. “TV providers must evaluate and revise the business model to fit the needs of the consumer, because if they don’t they are setting themselves up to fail.”

This customer experience research shows that nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of the population use streaming services and nearly one-third (29 per cent) of those who stream have either cancelled or downgraded their traditional TV services. According to Market Strategies International, this signals a dramatic change in how television is sold. The most successful streaming companies are the ones that have gone outside the components of the traditional pay-TV format: broadcast channels, scheduled live programming, and programming guides, with Netflix currently the leader in the video streaming industry, setting the bar for other streaming providers.

“While Netflix has the highest use rate and share of wallet by a long shot and is the provider to beat—there is not a clear winner yet. None of the current providers has cracked the code on what consumers want,” continued Mishkin. “However, the research clearly shows that the strength of the leaders is due to their ability to break free from the old rules of TV.”

Smart TV users watch 36% less than streaming box users

Most TVs shipped in the US are smart and increasing numbers of consumers are connecting them and using them to stream video. However, will they catch up to, and overhaul, the market leading streaming media players?

Smart TVs the norm when purchasing a new set

Smart TVs are now the default choice for consumers when purchasing a new set. 70% of all televisions shipped in North America in 2016 were smart. A third of total smart TV sales have gone to Samsung, with Vizio close behind with 30%. The rest of the market is divvied up between multiple manufacturers. LG secures the third spot with 10%, Sony is next with 7%.

Smart TV and streaming media player benefiting from OTT growth

Streaming media player (SMP) and enabled smart TV penetration has grown strongly over the last four years. In Q1 2014 just 10% of TV homes had a smart TV and 15% had a streaming media player. In Q1 2017, smart TVs have narrowed the gap on SMPs as penetration has grown to 29% and 31% respectively.

Both devices growth reflects how video streaming has moved into the mainstream. Between Q1 2014 and Q1 2017, Netflix U.S. streaming subscribers have grown from 36 million to 52 million. Moreover, services like Netflix put a strong emphasis on the television as the primary viewing platform. This trend seems likely to accelerate as consumers continue to move traditional television viewing to online platforms.

So, will smart TVs continue to catch up to, and overtake, SMPs as the preferred device for online streaming? Maybe not looking at usage data.

Smart TV usage is mixed

When it comes to usage smart TVs come with a natural advantage. When the TV is turned on many smart TVs start from the devices web portal. Moreover, many smart TVs make content and app suggestions in the opening screen. These advantages impact how often an owner uses that functionality. According to Nielsen, enabled smart TVs were used on 20.8 days between December 26th, 2016 and January 29th, 2017. Game consoles were used 15.3 days and SMPs 14.9 days.

When it comes to raw viewing hours the smart TV is well behind other devices. For example, game consoles are used for 4.4 hours per day, though that usage is likely dominated by gameplay rather than video viewing. On the other hand, SMPs are used for 3.6 hours per day with most of that usage dedicated to streaming. Enabled smart TVs are used for 2.3 hours, over an hour less than devices like Roku and Apple TV.

read more here:

One to Many: Streaming Live Video to Multiple Platforms

As recently as two or three years ago, most live streams were distributed by a single service provider like Livestream or Ustream, whether on a page on their websites, via an embedded player on your website, or both. With the rise of YouTube Live, Periscope, and particularly Facebook Live, the focus has changed from publishing to a single platform to getting your video on every platform possible. As with all things streaming video related, there are multiple ways to get this done. This article will cover the most prominent alternatives.

One great thing about most alternatives is that you don’t have to be a technology guru to use them. Understand a few key concepts that I’ll cover at the start, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a multiple-platform streaming maven.

Before we jump in, note that the companies discussed below are meant to be a representative sampling, not an exhaustive list. As you’ll see, many of the products and services are ones I’ve reviewed or discussed in the past. If you feel like your product or service should have been included, feel free to add it via comment below.

The first point to understand is that from an encoder interface perspective, there are two ways to connect to services like Facebook Live and YouTube Live: via platform-specific presets or via generic configurable destinations. With most of the products or services that we’ll discuss, if you’re using a platform-specific preset, you choose the preset, log in to the service, and your encoding tool and platform shake hands and exchange all required information.

If you’re using a generic destination or preset, you’ll have to provide the same information manually, which I show how to do in Figure 1. On the right is the server URL and stream key information provided by Facebook Live; on the left are the corresponding input fields from a generic destination provided by livestreaming service provider Livestream. By way of background, real-time messaging protocol (RTMP), originally developed by Adobe, is the common language spoken by all live-streaming encoding tools and live-streaming services. If you must create a custom preset, you’ll have to dig around in your streaming service to find these parameters, then copy and paste them into the encoder setup screen. Easy-peasy.

Why will you almost certainly have to use generic destinations? Because the 600-pound gorilla, Facebook’s Platform Policy Live API, states, “Don’t build apps that enable publishers to simultaneously stream to Facebook and other online streaming services.” So, if a product or service offers presets for Facebook Live and YouTube Live, it can’t let you use both simultaneously.

What’s the workaround? Stream to Facebook Live via the Facebook Live preset and to YouTube Live via a generic RTMP preset (or vice versa), which all products and services enable.

Now that you know how the plumbing works, let’s begin our look at on-premises hardware and software programs.

On-Premises Hardware and Software
These are devices or programs that you run from the source of your live stream, whether on-premises or at your live event. In general, the advantages of these products are:

Cost—You pay for it once, and that’s it.

Ease of use—There’s one product to learn, as compared to an encoder and web service.

Security—There’s one less service you’re bouncing your videos through, which may be important to some networks and businesses.

Lower latency—Web services that redirect your streams add some latency between the live event and the video seen by your viewers.

Captioning—This is available in many on-premises encoders but in few web services.

The primary disadvantage of products in this class is outbound bandwidth, particularly for those producing live, off-site events at conferences or stadiums where outbound bandwidth costs are prohibitive. That is, with a web service, you send one stream out to the cloud which is then redirected to multiple web destinations. With on-premises encoders, you’re sending multiple separate streams to the various web destinations, which all require their own bandwidth. The other primary disadvantage is CapEx, at least for several of the alternatives discussed below.

read more here:

Viewers Will Stream 47 Minutes of Video Per Day in 2017

Global viewers will average 47.4 minutes of online video viewing in 2017, forecasts media buying agency Zenith. That’s up from 39.6 minutes the previous year. Nearly all of that increase will come from mobile devices, where online video viewing will grow 35 percent to 28.8 minutes per day. Looking ahead, it should grow another 25 percent in 2018 and 29 percent in 2019 thanks to an increased use of mobiles, better screens, and faster mobile connectivity.

Viewing time on non-mobile devices (including connected TVs, desktop computers, and laptops) will grow only 2 percent in 2017 to 18.6 minutes per day. Within that area, Zenith sees connected TV streaming time rising, while desktop and laptop viewing times are decreasing. Viewing times on non-mobile devices will actually shrink by 1 percent in 2018 and 2 percent in 2019.

This data comes from Zenith’s Online Video Forecast 2017, and includes all online video sources such as video sharing sites and subscription services. In 2019, mobile devices will make up 72 percent of all online video viewing, Zenith says, up from 61 percent in 2017.

All this video viewing will lead to an increase in advertising on streamed video. Zenith predicts the global online video ad market will reach $27.2 billion U.S. this year, an increase from 2016’s $22.2 billion U.S. It should grow by 21 percent in 2018 and 17 percent in 2019, reaching $38.7 billion U.S.