The rise of video on demand and what to consider for your business

StriveCast Blog

Get an overview of video on demand and its use cases

Streaming services and video on demand have experienced a continuous increase in the last few years, let alone the significant boost in 2020 due to social distancing. This increase could be observed for private streaming services (+85% in March compared to last year) as well as in enterprise streaming. According to Brighcoves Q1 Global Video Index, Enterprise Video viewing rose by 91% in the first quarter of 2020.

21st century entertainment standards or “I want it now”

The rise of live streaming and video on demand (VoD) has revolutionized entertainment. It is now possible to watch live events happening in other parts of the world as well as watch any show or movie on-demand whenever you feel like it. Over the last decade, some of the world’s biggest entertainment and telecom conglomerates have started to lean on streaming entertainment. In a rapid progression of at-home entertainment, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Disney Plus, now rack up millions of subscribers. As Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub, noted during an interview “perhaps more significant than the simple increase in online subscriptions is the profound shift in consumers’ viewing behaviors generally. Instead of reaching first for the cable remote when it comes time to watch TV, more and more consumers are defining TV viewing, first and foremost, as viewing on streaming services.”

VoD: changing the entertainment and business landscape

The recent years and especially the corona crisis have boosted not only streaming in the private sector but also highlighted the importance of enterprise streaming. While the role of live streaming in everyday business, offering the possibility of web conferencing and webinars, may seem obvious, the relevance of VoD has been rising just as much.

The possible applications of VoD in a business context are numerous. The most straightforward application is marketing and sales. Many companies have used VoD for these purposes for a while, and the number of companies planning to integrate it into their strategy is growing. The possibility of offering an always-available vivid company image and/or a product explanation reformed marketing as a whole.

While this VoD use case is fairly common, there are a lot more possibilities. E-learning and virtual onboarding of new employees are just two examples. Platforms like LinkedIn Learning and branded internal platforms in the form of a “Corporate Youtube” have set new standards to all levels of employee development. Providing an employee platform with an own knowledge database is attractive from a manager’s point of view but also ranks high in employer branding.

Another benefit that comes along with the digitalization and increasing use of online meetings is that everything can be easily recorded and offered on-demand afterwards. This is especially useful

  • for everyone that missed a call or meeting
  • to catch up with or rewatch additional important topics
  • to avoid the necessity to hold the same session or webinar multiple times

 

With these possibilities of how VoD can be crucial to a company, the picture of the stream boost century becomes vivid. Logically this has technical implications. In the following, we will look at what these are and how to deal with them.

The struggle is real: How to overcome video on-demand streaming problems

The increase of on-demand and live video streaming causes a lot more data and traffic for providers, and the infrastructure. Video files are usually huge and consume a lot of bandwidth, slowing down the Internet connection. It’s important to consider here that hardly anything is as frustrating to consumers as low-quality videos and long buffering times. To avoid unsatisfied users, here are some methods for optimizing the video file itself and the delivery. With these, you don’t have to worry about such issues or the overall performance of your network anymore.

video on demand, The rise of video on demand and what to consider for your business

First: Optimize your video content

Video transcoding

Video transcoding describes the process of converting your video from one format into another. This includes all elements of a video: the file format, the video itself, and the audio. Video transcoding is used to ensure that the format is supported and viewable by all relevant video delivery platforms and devices. The correct use of video transcoding is especially essential when streaming to a broad audience with different devices and ínfrastructrues. As your video might be recorded in a certain resolution and audio quality, not every one of your viewers might be able to watch it. Using video transcoding lets you create several video streams with different bitrates and frame sizes. Now you have a pack of streams that everybody can view, regardless of their device, network, bandwidth, or infrastructure.

Video compression formats

Video file size depends on the length and quality of the video. If you want to offer a one-hour recording of your last town hall meeting, the file size can easily make up to 5 GB. In order to compress video files into a smaller size the quality is degraded. Different compression algorithms are used for different formats in order to shrink the file size. The best compression format depends on your requirement and the playback device. Below you see an overview of the most common compression sizes.

Resolution

4K (UHD)
1080p (FHD)
720p (HD)
480p (SD)

Bitrate

20 Mbps
5 Mbps
1 Mbps
500 Kbps

1 minute

84MB
20MB
5MB
2MB

When taking this step, consider new standards like H.266/VVC. These techniques that compress your video file before uploading help minimize size while keeping the quality as high as possible. Making use of programs like that and compressing your file before uploading it to your enterprise video platform, website, or social networks is a further step towards making your content delivery more efficient.

Go beyond: Optimize content delivery

Starting the stream: Lower the video startup time

First impressions count. As such, one crucial factor of a smooth VoD stream is the video startup time. According to a bitmovin study, almost 65% of the streaming developers reported that the startup time represents the most important video performing metric according to their knowledge about streaming and user experience. The video startup time can be defined in various ways. The most picturesque definition describes the startup time as the time between the moment where the user hits the play button to the moment the user sees the video content. The length of this time is influenced by different factors. The most crucial ones are the bandwidth condition, the bitrates, the segment size, and the CDN implementation. This said, the video startup time actually represents the bridging result between the above-mentioned video content optimization and the, hereafter described, way of stream delivery.  

Tip: Want to reduce the start-up time of your videos? Find out how StriveCast OTT integrates your audience into the streaming process to stabilize your live streams and webcasts.

Adaptive bitrate streaming

As mentioned before, one of the most prominent pressing factors in streaming is bandwidth usage. Adaptive bitrate streaming is a method that flexibly adapts the video compression size according to the bandwidth available. Going along with video transcoding, it flexibly adapts the stream to the bandwidth available, resulting in less buffering. Accordingly, if the available bandwidth is low, a lower but more readily available video compression size is delivered. Still, some viewers might have to expect low-quality video in exchange for a smooth delivery of their stream. When using adaptive bitrates, the user’s stream experience is handled most efficiently within the technical struggle between streaming quality and buffering time.

Edge Caching

In content caching, it is assumed that another user will soon request the same on-demand content from an origin server. Therefore, the content is cached, meaning that it is saved in parts. Now, when the same content is requested again, it can be shared from the closer located edge cache server and does not have to be provided by the origin server. An edge cache server, thereby, mediates between the origin server and the end-user. As the distance between the two is minimized, the content will load faster. Also the bandwidth requirements drop as the content distribution is delocalized. In this way, on-demand streaming can be facilitated, accelerated in scalability, and provided with decreased bandwidth requirements. Edge caching is one mechanism used by CDNs to help make content distribution such as VOD more efficient.

Use a P2P CDN for ultimate bandwidth reduction

If several users are simultaneously accessing the same video content on-demand, bandwidth requirements still go up. In order to free-up bandwidth, most companies and OTT providers use Content Delivery Networks to optimize content delivery and avoid server or network overloads. However, as you pay per data unit, content delivery networks generate high costs for companies.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networking minimizes bandwidth requirements while still ensuring optimal streaming. As the name states, the solution lies in establishing a stable network between viewers requesting a stream. A P2P CDN creates logical user groups (peers) among viewers that are watching the same content at the same time. Devices connect and share content (fully encrypted), which results in fewer requests to the origin server. Using this technology, StriveCast’s P2P CDN is the cost cutting solution for enterprise video on-demand content. It optimizes content delivery and reduces CDN costs by up to 75% while minimizing bandwidth requirements – resulting in a better user experience and more efficient streaming.

Tip: Want to learn more about the optimal streaming delivery with StriveCast OTT? Find out more here 
or contact our team directly to talk about individualized streaming solutions. 

Conclusion: Take-off with enterprise VoD use

The rise of live and on-demand streaming has reshaped the home entertainment world as well as internal and external media processes in the business context. The technical demands and accompanying costs that arise for enterprises using VoD should not be underestimated. The described solutions could be the table-turning adjustments your enterprise needs to optimize your video use and tag along on the rise of enterprise video on demand.

About StriveCast

StriveCast is a leading technology provider for eCDN solutions. Our WebRTC-based P2P mesh network is used by large companies like Swisscom, Siemens, Gazprom, and NEP group to solve the problem of network congestion during live events. Based in Germany, we are constantly improving and adapting our cutting-edge P2P technology in order to provide the next generation of enterprise video delivery. Today, StriveCast connects over 150,000 users worldwide on a daily basis, saving customers up to 95% of CDN traffic with a unique server-side-managed Peer-To-Peer network.

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