Once you’ve got your streaming video service running smoothly it’s easy to forget about video compression. But the technology keeps improving, and even a small increase in efficiency can give your business a big lift.
I visited video compression company V-Nova in London on Tuesday. I was invited over to see a demonstration of version 2 of V-Nova’s Perseus video encoding platform. As I discussed the benefits of vastly improved compression efficiency with V-Nova’s CEO Guido Meardi, and SVP of Products and Marketing Fabio Murra, I remembered a comment from Tony Stott, Head of Streaming Video Performance for Sky UK, at Akamai Edge 2016. I asked him what advice he could offer to improve quality. He said:
“Update your encoder software. Over the last 3 or 4 years h.264 encoders have gotten about 20% more efficient year-on-year. So, a really easy way to improve the quality of experience is to update the software. It’s something that always gets left behind, but you will see a difference.”
If you haven’t reviewed your compression solution in a while, it’s high time you did. Here are 5 reasons doing so could bring some serious benefits to your streaming service.
#1: Increased reach
According to Akamai, just 10% of worldwide broadband connections can deliver 25Mbps or better. Netflix recommends customers have at least 25Mbps to watch Ultra HD video. If Netflix could improve compression efficiency by 40% a customer would only need 15Mbps to watch UHD. And that would boost Netflix’ UHD reach to 25%.
Mr. Meardi reminded me that the improvements in reach can be much greater than that. Perseus 2 can deliver a good video picture on a cellphone at 100Kbps. At such a low bandwidth, virtually every phone in the world can be used to watch video.
#2: Improved picture quality
Reducing the bandwidth required to stream video at a given quality means money savings on every video delivered. However, a video business could boost picture quality, and keep bandwidth streaming charges the same. Customers will surely appreciate the better-quality picture, and that just might persuade them to stick with the service a little longer too.
#3: Reduced buffering
85% of video service providers identify video buffering as the number one quality problem. One of the biggest causes of buffering problems is a lack of bandwidth between the streaming server and video client device. Sometimes, network problems cut the bandwidth available so much that the video stream can’t get through to the video client device quickly enough. The result is the picture freezes and the viewer must wait until the next portion of video arrives.
Reduce the bandwidth required to stream the video and the rate and duration of video buffering events should decrease too.
#4: Reduced storage needs
Increased compression efficiency also means encoded videos take up less server storage space. Video service providers are charged for that storage by the CDN or streaming partner. Less storage needs mean less storage costs!
#5: Better performance of the SVOD download feature
Increased compression efficiency doesn’t only help with saving money on server storage, it can help customers too. Netflix and Amazon both allow customers to download video to client devices for offline viewing. More efficient compression means smaller and faster downloads. It also means customers can store more content on their device.
Mr. Murra used V-Nova Perseus’ Indian customer FastFilmz to illustrate the point. Mobile operators sell 1GByte mobile download packages to customers. Using Perseus, fastfilmz users can download 6 movies to their device using that bandwidth. Using Perseus, users can download 6 movies to their device using that bandwidth. Similar features in competitor streaming services allow their customers to download 3 or less movies.
Why it matters
Advances in compression technology can yield big reductions in the bandwidth required to deliver streaming video.
This can have a hugely beneficial effect on many aspects of a streaming business.