nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

Can OTT video match TV’s reliability, quality of delivery?

TVOT NYC panelists

While OTT video streaming can beat televisions resolution today, it cannot match the reliability and quality of delivery. Will it ever get there? Yes we can, according to four streaming video experts.

At the TV of Tomorrow Show in New York last week, I sat down with a group of video quality experts to discuss how online video providers should approach quality delivery online. It soon became apparent that there are still big challenges with the basics, like video start time, and buffering. This led me to ask the panelist: “Can we ever reach or better traditional televisions reliability and quality of delivery online?”

Matching TV quality is just the start

John Bishop, CTO, Media Business, Akamai, says that TV quality is where OTT streaming starts from. He is shooting for higher.

“TV went from being the high-bar to being the floor. When you look at something like time behind live, the Internet is quickly catching and will pass what you are getting with pay TV service through a set-top box. We always had the vision to say we are as good as, and now it’s about how to be better than, television. And we’ve got line of sight to that in the next 5 or 10 <years>, no problem.”

Mobile networks up to the challenge

In-home streaming quality better-than out of homeIn general, mobile network video quality is worse than WIFI or broadband. For example, according to The new free white paper The Secret Life of Streamers, buffering impacted views affect 7.9% of streams in-home, and 14.3% out-of-home. Similarly, video start failures go from 1.5% in-home to 2.9% out-of-home. Notwithstanding these data, Max Pellegrini, President, Products and Marketing, RealNetworks, thinks that mobile will ultimately be able to match the television experience.

“I think yes. We’ve still got a lot to do. From a mobile perspective, 4G networks <are here> and 5G will be coming up in about 2 years. And the technology that wireless carriers are adopting to cache content is important. And the solution vendors like DirecTV and Sling TV, I’m very bullish on this.”

VR, 4K carry OTT passed television

Michael Dale, VP of Engineering, Ellation, was the only panelist tasks with managing the quality of video services in market. He oversees VRV and Crunchy Roll. He notes the fast adoption cycle for new technology, including video technology, will carry OTT streaming beyond television quality.

“Yes, I’m very bullish as well. I we are going to leapfrog it in some respects as well. We’ll have 4K and VR, and these sorts of experiences will go far beyond what we think of as television.  The quality metrics will go beyond it over time. And probably in the relatively near term. That’s the nature of this exponential technology growth.”

Operators are going IP too

It’s easy to forget that operators are also moving quickly toward all-IP delivery. Comcast’s Stream TV service is an example of this. Marty Roberts, CEO, Wicket Labs, reminded us all that operators are benefiting from the online streaming revolution too.

“Many of the content distributors are already there. If you look at the infrastructure that Comcast has laid out inside its <network>, and Verizon. What were traditional cable companies are now delivering a lot of their content over IP. Almost all of their VOD content and they’re starting to migrate linear channels. That’s a team effort that happens with their own CDN and third party CDNs, and all sorts of technology providers along that stack. What we are watching today on TV is basically digital video.”

Why it matters

OTT video streaming is much less reliable and cannot match the quality of delivery of pay television.

Technology advancements are addressing many of these issues.

This culture of innovation will eventually carry OTT video streaming past the TV quality standard.

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One Comment

  1. This is a nice discussion and below are some of my comments which I want to share.

    OTT Video Streaming is still far behind from other 3 delivery mediums (DTH, Cable TV and IPTV).
    OTT with Adaptive Bit-rates is basically to give ‘Quality of Experience’ (QoE) to users rather than concentrating on ‘Quality of Service’ (QoS).

    OTT is delivering video over un-managed networks in 2 different ways

    1. single bit-rate – where buffering is the main concern or with single lower bit-rate stream, quality gets impacted.
    2. Multiple bit-rates (Adaptive Bit-rates) – QoE is given preference over QoS.

    With DTH, Cable Tv and IPTV delivery mechanisms – it is always guaranteed that users will get the best possible quality with best experience possible.
    Where broadband connectivity is good, the noticeable difference is less as Apps streams at highest bit-rates.

    With time, improvements will happen in all the areas, be it Networks, CDN delivery, transcoding efficiency, mobile networks etc. but lots depends on the WiFi and Broadband at the last mile.

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