Video Streaming Format — Part 1: DASH

As a media consumer, have you ever thought about streaming formats or why they are important? Chances are you have not. Most viewers don’t pay attention to how digital content is delivered, how it is displayed on mobile devices or TV screens, or what type of streaming format it’s in. And why should you? Quality of the stream and how fast it loads are the only things that really matter. In this TV Apps — 101 series, we’ll dig a little deeper into what types of streaming formats are out there, the pros and cons of each, and why it should even matter to you.

One of the major streaming formats out there is MPEG-DASH, or simply DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP). DASH is an adaptive bitrate streaming technique that enables high quality streaming of media content over the Internet delivered from conventional HTTP web servers.

DASH acquired an industry standard status in January of 2011. It was preceded by the agreement between Microsoft, Apple, and Adobe, where a technology specific format of streaming was adopted by each brand. It is the only international standardized solution, adopted by a lot of major services, and a lot more services are on their way to do so.

Why is DASH so popular?
  • It works well for removing and adding quality levels during streaming. So for example, if we detect that the network is slow, we can start requesting lower quality (smaller) chunks for the next segment. This technology also allows an advertising segment to be appended/inserted into the stream.
  • DASH allows for HD video quality. Add a surround sound, additional support for foreign languages, and even add subtitles, and the viewing experience is elevated to the whole new level.
  • Thanks to DASH, now you can enjoy video content delivered to you over the internet connection. Watch anything, anywhere on you connected TVs and set-top boxes, for example, AppleTV, Roku, FireTV, and similar devices.
  • This format supports multiple content delivery networks and video views simultaneously. This means that you have options to switch between views, or have different videos playing side by side, when you change a layout on your device to be able to have several videos open at the same time.
  • Additionally, DASH format is compatible with different types of platforms and operating systems, and supports HTML5. And as a bonus, it supports efficient trick modes. By the trick mode, we mean a digital video feature that allows displaying a visual feedback, when you choose to rewind or to fast-forward what you have been watching. Just like your good old VCR, if you remember one of those.
  • Lastly, one of the most important features of DASH is a failover mode support. Viewers’ experience will not be ruined if a content delivery network goes down. Existence of an automatic and operational without warning, built-in back-up support will trigger the switch to a standby server.

Smooth streaming is the number one priority in the world of over-the-top broadcasting. Streaming format choices affect the quality of video delivered to customers. A good quality of video combined with the quality of content will always put digital media producers ahead of the competition.

TV Apps 101 is a regular series where Odd digs a little deeper into streaming technologies, video app development, and why it should even matter to you. Interested in taking the next step in media distribution? Let Odd Networks connect your fans with your content by delivering your videos to multiple screens.

Stay tuned for more formats explained and see you in the Odd Future.

Interested? You can find more helpful information in Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.