The SRT (Secure Reliable Transport) protocol has garnered the support of over 500 solution and service providers within the first four years of its open-source availability. This remarkable milestone of 500 members, coinciding with SRT’s fourth birthday, came as Encompass Digital Media, Lumen Technologies and Twitch confirmed their membership of the Haivision initiative.
NAB Amplify asked Marc Cymontkowski, Vice President, Product Development, Cloud, Haivision (and the lead technologist behind SRT), how this rapid industry take-up has been achieved in such a short period. “The SRT transport protocol has become widely adopted because it solves a fundamental pain point in the broadcast and streaming industry: how to transport low latency, high quality video streams over unpredictable or unreliable networks including the public internet.
“Furthermore, the protocol is free, open sourced, fully documented, and extremely easy to implement. After four years, SRT is now so well established that customers are demanding that vendor solutions are SRT-ready,” said Cymontkowski.
Haivision originally developed SRT in 2013 to enable low latency video connectivity over the public internet between its products, specifically the Makito low latency series of video encoders and decoders. Haven proven the technology within its own products during the NAB conference in April 2017, Haivision made the SRT protocol and supporting technology stack open source and freely available to all market participants and formed the SRT Alliance to support its adoption.
One year later, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) awarded Haivision an Emmy Award for Technology and Engineering. Haivision was commended for its development of SRT and for “Pioneering Reliable Transmission Method for Live Contribution and Distribution TV Links.”
During the past four years, almost every major streaming service, cloud platform, and broadcast solution provider has supported and adopted SRT. Lumen Technologies, a global CDN provider that delivers Vyvx managed fiber solutions for multi-point video distribution, is one of the latest organizations to join the SRT Alliance.
“Whether over managed fiber or the public internet, Lumen has worked for three decades to make video transport as efficient as possible,” said Rob Nance, senior director of CDN and Vyvx engineering, Lumen Technologies. “On the 30th anniversary of Vyvx, we are thrilled to contribute to the important work of the SRT Alliance and to support the open-source protocols that can help our customers transport media over diverse and less reliable networks.”
“As a user across multiple companies including Riot and Twitch, Haivision and the SRT technology have unleashed the possibilities of remote production,” said Mitch Rosenthal, Director of Production Operations, Original Content at Twitch. “With SRT, Haivision has driven change within the industry that dramatically reduces our costs and stimulates our technical creativity in addressing the challenges of eSports.”
SRT is used extensively for direct live video transport between locations over the public internet (replacing satellite or private networks) for live video contribution to production workflows, on-premise or in the cloud (as an alternative to Real Time Messaging Protocol or RTMP), and live connectivity between cloud-based services.
“SRT is now in the industry’s DNA,” said Cymontkowski. “This is demonstrated by both the collaborative open source development and the adoption of the protocol in every corner of the industry.
“Promoting the continuous collaborative development of the protocol and its interoperability are central to the mission of the SRT Alliance, he told NAB Amplify. “There are scores of developers across many organizations and industry sectors who are actively contributing to SRT to support real-world use cases and, because it is open source, SRT development is not hindered by standards committees or the interests of a single organization or industry.
“An exciting new development in the current SRT release is the inclusion of socket groups,” Cymontkowski continued, “which offer many benefits including support for multi-path resilience and link bonding. As a maturing technology, Haivision, (the original developer of SRT) is already leveraging this socket group concept with the introduction of path redundancy for resilient video streaming over unpredictable networks in its own portfolio of solutions.”
Sony Imaging Products & Solutions (Sony) is another company that has recently joined the SRT Alliance. “At the moment, the world is witnessing and adapting to drastic changes in the way we work and learn. Such circumstances have created a pressing demand for efficient remote communication, content production and distance learning,” said Bruce Tanaka, General Manager of Camera System Business Division, Sony Imaging Products & Solutions Inc. “By joining the SRT Alliance, we believe we can help customers to create and distribute high-quality video content with low latency in an efficient manner.”
Video Networking for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
Haivision also recently announced that Haivision Hub, a global video networking service, is now generally available. Haivision Hub has been adopted among others by Eurovision Sport, Microsoft Studios, Times Network, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, NOMOBO, and HBS.
Haivision Hub is a video networking service offering an on-demand, agile solution for securely transporting live IP video contribution feeds from encoders at event locations to production resources on-premise or in the cloud.
Haivision Hub saves time and eliminates errors with end-to-end live IP video routing combining edge device control, cloud resource provisioning, and stream monitoring. Haivision Hub centralizes management of any live contribution workflow, simplifying connectivity, making it ideal for breaking news, sporting, corporate and cultural events.
“Haivision Hub allows us to simply and easily get many live streams from the sessions at our event venues to our production center without the hassle of programming each individual workflow manually,” said Jeff Tyler, Digital Media Experience Manager at Microsoft. “This saves us a tremendous amount of time and virtually eliminates errors.”
“Times Network is committed to adopting solutions that help us deliver our best-in-class programming to our viewers around the world. Haivision has been our trusted partner whose cutting-edge technology, Haivision Hub, has allowed us to deliver our live television signals using the SRT protocol with minimal latency and extremely high reliability,” said Jignesh Kenia, EVP & Head, Corporate Strategy and Digital Transformation, Times Network.
“A major component of our core mission within the VA is to deliver real-time training and communications to VA staff, and to reach out to our veteran patient audience with relevant health, wellness, and benefits information,” said Hugh Graham, Telecommunications Specialist,VHA Employee Education System, United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Leveraging the one-to-many live streaming cloud workflow of Haivision Hub, we are now able to reach multiple viewer endpoints from single channel programming. The intuitive Hub dashboard allows quick startup of new streams, and the MS Azure backbone has proven to be secure, robust, and reliable – all necessary requirements to deliver the VA messaging,” said Graham.
The State of IP and Cloud Adoption in the Broadcast Industry
These developments follow the recent release of Haivision’s “Broadcast IP Transformation Report 2021: The State of IP and Cloud Adoption in the Broadcast Industry.” This is the second edition of the report, and Haivision Chief Commercial Officer and EVP Strategic Partnerships Peter Maag noted in his introduction that they could never have imagined the enormous disruption and uncertainly that unfolded over the last year.
“With ever-increasing demand for content, changes in viewing behavior and the emergence of new players in the market — all allied to the remote working and social-distancing protocols introduced to production by the pandemic — the broadcasting industry continues to evolve and shift at an accelerating pace.”
Among key takeaways from the survey findings (conducted throughout November and December 2020), Haivision found 71% of those polled stated that COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of IP within their organization. In live broadcast, 39% of those surveyed are employing remote production or REMI workflows. Almost half of those surveyed (46%) also indicated that REMI/At-home technology is one of the most important trends for their organization for the future.
Regarding the biggest challenges faced, 42% cited transitioning to IP, followed by enabling remote production at 41%. Right behind those top two challenges was reducing broadcast latency at 38%. Completing the top five challenges were budgetary constraints (32%), adapting to COVID-19 for staff health and safety (25%) and implementing cloud technology at 22%.
The survey found that SRT, the Secure Reliable Transport open source protocol, is now being employed by 53% of broadcasters. And with over 50% of respondents already using H.265 HEVC and over 80% planning to do this year, the report suggests HEVC is becoming the most important codec for the future of broadcast video. This is largely due to the growing importance of 4K UHD video contribution over IP and the cloud.
Despite the hardships caused by the pandemic, video streaming and virtual desktop technology have matured to the level where it can replace traditional facility-based workflows. At the time the survey was conducted in late 2020, broadcasters had as many as 75% or more of their employees successfully producing live content from home.
Although the survey didn’t go into detail about which specific changes would remain or to what degree, nearly three quarters of those surveyed believe that the broadcast workflow changes spurred on by the pandemic will become permanent.
Most of those polled are using more than one transport streaming protocol. RTMP comes in first at 61% for streaming to CDN and social media. However, as RTMP does not support HEVC, broadcasters need to user other protocols. SRT is used by 53% of respondents, followed by UDP Unicast/Multicast, NDI, HLS, RTP, MPEG-DASH, WebRTC, Zixi and RIST.
The internet is becoming the most common way to transport live video for broadcast contribution, according to the report, with 82% of respondents selecting this option. Almost one third are also using bonded cellular, though this has decreased slightly from last year, perhaps as a result of 5G bringing broadband internet to mobile networks.
“The transition towards IP and cloud-based workflows has delivered quality live coverage of live events despite social distancing, health and safety requirements and travel restrictions,” the Haivision report concludes. “By putting low latency streaming technologies such as the SRT protocol to use, broadcast professionals have been able to collaborate with each other over long distances in real time and even remotely operate broadcast equipment.”