- Controlling costs is the biggest challenge facing streaming service providers, according to the sixth edition of Bitmovin’s Video Developer Report.
- Live streaming at scale is now at the top of the list when it comes to innovation priorities, with low latency a close second.
- Content-aware and per-title encoding are on the rise with over a third of survey participants planning to use it in the next 12 months with the benefits of increasing quality for the viewer and reducing CDN costs.
It’s impossible to deny that the supercharged trajectory the video streaming industry experienced during the pandemic has begun to shift due to a challenging economic climate.
Consumers and businesses are beginning to tighten their belts, so it’s not surprising that video developers cited controlling costs as their biggest challenge this year, replacing live low latency. It indicates that innovations will slow as the industry seeks to minimize operational costs.
That’s according to the latest annual Video Developer Report from compression technology specialist Bitmovin. This is a global survey of OTT streamers and online video player developers/users.
On the innovation side, the report found that a majority of video developers are betting on live streaming as the biggest opportunities for the industry, with live streaming at scale
Last year, low latency topped the list. Multiple data points now indicate low latency issues can be solved using CMAF-LL (with DASH-LL and LL-HLS) — technologies that Bitmovin suggests are in prime position for scalable future adoption.
However, low latency remains in second place. It is safe to assume that live streaming and low-latency are closely linked to each other. Less than three seconds is the most popular latency expectation. Last year the report indicated that 2-5 seconds was a more achievable range for scalable streaming than <1s, however, there’s a broader spread across the >5 seconds latencies, perhaps showing that participants are taking a more granular look at the latencies they can expect and what’s necessary for the viewer experience they want to provide.
Demand for low latency may be driving some experimentation with WebRTC — a protocol commonly used for video conferencing. The increase in this year’s report may be showing more diversity in the type of services that are responding to the report and those are becoming broader than OTT streaming (i.e., what Bitmovin calls “new media” companies).
The importance and use of the codec standards H.265/HEVC and AV1 continues to grow with planned adoption in the next 12-24 months having doubled year-over-year. It appears that the patent pool issues around HEVC have worn off, leading to broad adoption of the codec a decade after it was finalized.
Cost continues to be a major challenge faced by streaming service providers. Per Bitmovin, this further highlights the importance of adopting new codecs like HEVC and AV1 and advanced techniques like per-title encoding that can reduce overall costs, including lowering CDN costs.
More than a third of respondents to the survey are already using content-aware or per-title encoding, with an additional one-third planning to deploy these in the next year.
When it comes to opportunities afforded by technology, “enhanced color” is cited as the second-biggest opportunity for the industry, speaking to consumer demand for high-quality images. Advertising has shot up to fourth place, reflecting the growth of ad-supported business models.
Ad insertion is also cited as third-biggest challenge facing the industry. This is no surprise with the increase in CTV/OTT viewing and ad-supported services scaling rapidly.
The growing number of data sources allows for more robust performance measurement than ever before. This year, there’s a shift with buffering rates now as the most important performance metric in comparison to last year when delivered bitrate was at the top.