At the beginning of March, 100TB graced the BVE conference at Excel London.
The theme underscores so much of the seminars and conversations at the conference, was collaboration and strategic partnerships. It was also a brilliant opportunity to showcase just what is being achieved in the broadcast and streaming media industries over the past twelve months.
BBC Earth, Happy Finish, Sky and Surround Vision were demonstrating impressive VR content and monetizing VR content was on everyone’s mind.
In addition, there were over 80 hours of free to attend seminars. At 100TB we were particularly interested in the Streaming Forum that covered many of the topics dear to our heart such as:
- Delivering the optimal OOT experience
- Latency and how to overcome it
- What the heck is an OTT framework?
- HEVC, HTTP 2.0
- Codecs and formats for 2017
Alongside opportunities for some hot off the press CPD, we also conducted our own interviews on the stand and it was a total pleasure welcoming such experts as:
Ed Haslam, Conviva
Jeff Webb, Sky
Per Lindgren, Net Insight
Richard Brandon, Edgeware TV
Daniel Nordberg, Opera TV
Craig Ferguson, THEOplayer
Miguel Silva, Vimond Media Solutions
We also streamed on Facebook Live so you can catch up with all our interviews in their raw form.
Catch The Action
Viewer experience was a hot topic covered. Expectations are extremely high, and people are using a whole variety of kit to access content. Over-the-Top (OTT) providers need to consider how that audience watches online video and its needs.
- Are they connecting with Wi-Fi-enabled TVs?
- Are they using set-top boxes or mobile devices?
- Does the provider want to launch a paid subscription service?
- Is a free ad-supported service accessible through video sharing sites and social platforms?
These decisions matter. Each platform has different technical requirements for bitrate, resolution and video format. You’ll want to stream video to a variety of devices, and that brings complications. But, understand the delivery requirements for each destination, and you can reverse-engineer a video workflow.
Team TV Stream
In addition, it appears broadcast and OTT have merged. Many providers believe there is very little difference between the two anymore. Of course, there is some legacy thinking that OTT provides worse quality. But OTT providers have a very different perspective. They feel OTT can provide a more interactive and effective experience compared to broadcast. Overcoming negativity and improving interactivity are big aims for the coming year.
100TB’s Ernest Russell dropped by to discuss all things streaming. He was instrumental in preparing our latest white paper that you can access here.
Keeping Real-Time Real
One of the most significant comments that kept surfacing throughout the three days was latency. After all, viewers can’t get enough of live sports and news when they want it and across any device. The viewer is central – they want what they want – exactly when they want it. One of the most significant challenges, of course, is reducing the delay that often comes with the record audiences consuming sport. These can range from 30 seconds to a minute or more. There are solutions coming onto the market, but right now this issue has caused many furrowed eyebrows.
VR is all about experience, of course. Not only user experience, but viewers demand high value. The planning of live events is especially critical now that anyone can be virtually transported to a 360-degree world. If the illusion of actually being present and experiencing an event first hand is to be maintained the highest quality is required.
That means the higher image quality becomes the bigger the bitrate. That puts a demand on bandwidth. This is set crease as a greater number of 4K and 8k cameras are appearing on the market. Therefore compression was something else that cropped up in a number of conversations had on the stand.
Seeing the Whole Picture
Regardless of technical difficulties, expectations continue to rise. With the advent of social media 360 video congestion is likely to increase. Like any traffic that moves slowly or grinds to a halt, this has a great impact on the user. Therefore, the need for efficient VR delivery is top of the agenda.
For everyday consumers, streaming 360-degree video from the NBA, Periscope, and Facebook can eat up data plans, resulting in expensive phone bills, while also contributing to significant network congestion with a high volume of viewers. The congestion means that the user’s experience can be dramatically hindered, as the network chokes on sending the fat data to the mobile device. Therefore, network operators, content producers, and consumers have a keen interest in the efficient delivery of VR.
Of course, latency is never far from providers’ minds as 360-degree VR streaming can exacerbate this phenomenon. Usually affecting two significant aspects of the viewing experience: head-motion and scaling quality. You have probably all experienced moving your eyes and experiencing a lag between what you’re doing and the video. This is where you suddenly become aware of motion-to-photon latency. In an ideal world a refresh rate of less than 11ms at 90Hz for desktops, and 16ms at 60Hz for mobile devices should be achievable. Anything greater will induce very uncomfortable feelings of nausea.
So what are the solutions? There are a few. Adaptive streaming is one way to assist in the delivery of high-quality video. This means that within their field of vision or FOV high quality exists outside of that lower resolution is used. Look out for Field of View adaptive Streaming or even View Optimized Streaming.