While sports have been a major driver for live television viewing, a survey of online video service providers (OVSPs) shows that the focus of live delivery is moving in new directions on the digital front.
According to research from Akamai, about half (56%) of OVSPs said their services are focused around live events like awards shows and conferences, while just 15% deliver live sports.
“The live events OVSPs are streaming are not one-off, infrequent events,” the report noted. “Their offerings are clearly meant to be a destination for their intended audience. Two-thirds of the OVSPs provide more than one simultaneous stream, and a quarter provide six or more. In addition, 56% of respondents indicated that their service delivers six or more events a month, with 14% delivering daily events and 18% running 24x7 or linear channel simulcast services.”
Also, OVSPs primarily target the PC and smartphone with their live streaming services. Akamai noted that they should reconsider this platform priority as other screens drive significant video usage.
On the monetisation front, 39% of OVSPs say their services do not make money and provide only non-monetary value. Also, 38% derive revenue from advertising and sponsorship. Despite the popularity of subscription VOD, only 23% say they use subscriptions to monetise their service. And 17% leverage pay-per-view to monetise their live streaming service. Shockingly, only 9% use targeted dynamic ad insertion.
The standard for live streaming is high definition; very few OVSPs use higher quality formats like UHD or high frame rates. Over two-thirds provide multi-camera angles to enhance their service offerings. Interactive features, used by 29% of respondents, constitute the next most popular enhancement.
Video-stream quality and stream reliability are at the top of the list of challenges that impact live streaming services, according to the survey. Minimising streaming costs and reducing stream latency are also important. Video buffering continues to define what people think of as “bad” video, so 86% of OVSPs cite buffering as being emblematic of quality problems, and the rebuffering rate is the parameter with which OVSPs are most concerned. Bitrate is the second most important concern, and 60% cited audio sync problems as a key factor impacting quality. Surprisingly, just 20% cite video latency as defining bad video quality.
If OVSPs could improve just one of the quality parameters, 26% would choose rebuffering rate and 24% would enhance live latency.
Maintaining a quality service requires two fundamental things: know what you’re going to measure to check quality and know how you’re going to measure it. Most OVSPs who participated in this study are not ready to do this. Just 44% have established key performance indicators (KPIs) to track quality, and only 35% say they’ve planned to have their operations team partner with the CDN to measure service performance.