Intelligent CIO Middle East Issue 34 - Page 90

/////////////////////////////////////////// INDUSTRY WATCH close examination. For example, is video start- up time important? For sites delivering news it’s absolutely up there, but for sites focusing on movies a smooth consistent streaming experience with a high perceptual quality is probably more important. Akamai has conducted a number of studies looking at the impact of stream quality on audience engagement and retention, and Secondly, media companies need to think about the dynamics of delivery. Stream delivery needs to be consistent, at the highest possible resolution for the target device and capable of dealing with any amount scale. Thirdly, media companies need access to analytics. If things do go wrong, companies need to be able to efficiently diagnose the issues and deal with them. THE MARKET FOR LIVE AND VOD STREAMING IS HIGHLY COMPETITIVE AND IN MANY COUNTRIES ALMOST SATURATED. we found that delivering a high resolution video on a connected TV (above 5Mbps), can engage a viewer in a storyline by up to 11% more than a low resolution stream (less than 1.8Mbps). We’ve actually found that a stream buffer can decrease viewer engagement by up to 19%. Video stream quality can also have a longer term detrimental impact on the brand and is one of the main reasons for viewer churn. To help media companies understand what ‘good’ looks like we’ve recently released a paper that reviews a range of key performance indicators against different devices, different networks and across different content genres. Is it possible to achieve live streaming at broadcast quality? Yes, it is and the recent success of broadcasters around the world delivering the World Cup proves that. It does require media companies to think slightly differently about delivery however. The challenge is really three-fold. Firstly, ingesting a high resolution simulcast or live stream into a CDN can be a complex task. Companies need to think about ingesting the highest possible bit rate, reliably and with minimal latency. 90 INTELLIGENTCIO Akamai has developed a range of technologies over the past few years to deal with these challenges such as our Live Origin ingest service, media acceleration technologies and advanced analytics all of which help companies deliver a better than TV experience. How is it possible to handle sudden spikes in traffic? One of the challenges of delivering a live stream especially with sports is you will have a very high peak in audience numbers. For example, with football matches we often see almost 90–95% of the audience starting to watch within 60 seconds or less before kick-off. To deal with that, media companies need to work with a delivery partner that can handle these large traffic spikes. One of our unique strengths is we are the most highly distributed cloud platform in the world. With over 240,000 plus servers located in 1,700 networks across 140 countries, we are able to deal with significant spikes in traffic or surges in audience numbers for our customers. How can analytics be used to provide visibility into video performance? Good actionable insight is one of the most important factors when delivering streamed video. There are three aspects to consider. Firstly, analytics can help to test services before they go live. Being able to simulate expected audience loads throughout the workflow is critical. Testing services that provide detailed actionable insights will mitigate problems before they even arise. Secondly, analytics that provide insight into video metrics is crucial. It’s important to be able to understand if problems are occurring, why are they occurring and to deal with them adequately. For example, if the audience of a particular programme is experiencing delivery challenges such as a rise in buffering in a particular location, good analytics will allow you to diagnose, manage and resolve any issues. The third aspect is ongoing performance analysis into the way viewers are using and engaging with a website or application to search, buy or view content. By optimising images or understanding the flow of the engagement process, media companies can keep viewers returning to their services. Akamai has innovated and invested into all of these areas as it’s a critical part of our customers service environment. Taking a 360 degree approach to analytics across the entire service stack is essential and in a highly competitive market, can be the difference between success or failure. n THERE IS A VERY LARGE ON-LINE AUDIENCE LOOKING FOR NEW CONTENT EXPERIENCES BUT THAT DOESN’T NECESSARILY GUARANTEE SUCCESS.