Video streaming takes up approximately 80% of all internet data¹ usage worldwide. That is a huge number, considering that a decade ago, a majority of quality video content was distributed through traditional broadcast media channels. The rapid changes in technology have not yet caught up to the demands of internet users and content consumers worldwide.
Even as sophisticated as video streaming technology comparatively seems today versus a decade ago, it is still way behind the demands and needs of users worldwide. On-demand video streaming has come a long way almost keeping up with broadcast speed.
Live streaming is a subset of video streaming on the internet and is still a relatively new technology. Eventually, live streaming will replace traditional live broadcast technology entirely.
Here are five reasons why video live streaming is in the dark ages:
Right now there is an oligarchy of large tech companies that own the space of live streaming. This is problematic for a few reasons, when exclusively dependent on a single vendor limits flexibility on pricing, availability of unique product features, and vulnerability to failure. If there are only a few providers, and the service is interrupted, there isn’t an alternative way to live stream video content.
Right now, it’s nearly seamless to watch a video on your phone, computer or tablet instantly. When streaming an on-demand video the days of long buffering times, low image quality and random halts/stops while streaming a video on your device are virtually non-existent. The positive end-user experience takes a lot of work behind the scenes to make it possible.
One of the largest tasks that makes that possible is transcoding the video files². Video files are captured in a unique format to the camera or program recording video and audio. This is original file format is not the format needed to distribute the video online or play it on different screen sizes. Video transcoding alters the video format into compatible formats across many different platforms.
Transcoding is a complex but necessary process to accommodate multiple platforms and devices. It is a time-consuming process for video content that isn’t live, like the on-demand content available for streaming on Netflix.
In order to successfully capture and distribute live video, it requires transcoding the content in real-time for multiple file formats at once to successfully distribute it across multiple platforms. This process requires more data storage and network bandwidth requirements than video not captured in real-time. Unlike pre-recorded video, where each file format can be transcoded one at time offline and uploaded at a later time, live video files need to be transcoded in real-time online for IP-based content distribution.
With only a few centralized live stream content providers, user video content is vulnerable to censorship from the providers. Currently, users of other centralized technology distribution content platforms are being censored or de-platformed³ entirely for unpopular views.
This centralized model is detrimental to maintaining the freedom of speech, information distribution and expression of the internet.
It costs a lot of money for media companies to transition from broadcast content distribution to primarily IP-based video distribution. It takes a lot of time, storage, bandwidth, and expertise to accomplish this at an acceptable quality for end-users.
These are just five reasons why the live streaming space is ripe for disruption. A lot more improvements are necessary to make this technology fast, scalable, user-friendly, affordable, and reliable. One thing is certain, in less than a decade people will look back at the current state of live stream video and laugh about how archaic it was in 2019.
¹ “Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Trends, 2017–2022 ….” 27 Feb. 2019, https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/service-provider/visual-networking-index-vni/white-paper-c11-741490.html. Accessed 26 Aug. 2019.
² “Best 3 Video Transcoders of 2019 — How to Transcode a Video.” 8 Jan. 2019, https://www.winxdvd.com/resource/best-video-transcoders.htm. Accessed 26 Aug. 2019.
³ “2018 in review: The year in deplatforming — Mashable.” 26 Dec. 2018, https://mashable.com/article/deplatforming-alex-jones-2018/. Accessed 26 Aug. 2019.