How Viblast Optimizes Live Video Streaming

Jan. 14, 2015

Streaming high quality video requires that a demanding list of conditions be met. First, you need reliable infrastructure. The goal is to guarantee delivery and a specific quality of service (QoS). Some large companies simply invest in extra capacity or contract alternative providers as a form of protection against outages or buffering. That said, ABC’s Oscars 2014 live stream showed how things could go wrong even when you’re a major TV network.

Second, most organizations must work with limited resources, which makes it difficult to guarantee QoS. And third, device and format fragmentation need to be addressed. Finally, even if you are successful in the delivering on the first three, it can be difficult to analyze any performance errors once the streaming is over. Was your broadcast successful or not? How do you know?

A software solution

One innovative solution addressing all these issues is the online video delivery technology Viblast. This solution optimizes live video streaming by creating a Peer-To-Peer (P2P) network between the viewers, which reduces server load. In addition, it requires the production of only one original stream (Apple’s HLS format) to serve all devices and formats.

For mobile, Viblast works natively, through Android and iOS SDKs or white-label apps. In this way, without investing in extra infrastructure, broadcasters can improve their QoS and be prepared for viewership spikes. The platform also comes with a video analytics portal.

Optimizing video streaming with P2P

Optimizing video streaming through P2P is still a relatively new concept, but early adopters of the Viblast solution are already reaping the benefits. 

Viblast eliminates the need to support multiple streaming formats and purchase excessive bandwidth for broadcasts. It relies on standard peer-to-peer technology. The signal optimization happens in the last mile, as viewers consume the video streams. Viewers’ browsers share video chinks with other viewers, creating what the company calls Peer-accelerated Delivery Network, or PDN. 

Besides reducing the video provider’s bandwidth requirements as the number of viewers grows, the PDN has the natural capacity to build real-time scale. In other words, as viewership peaks, reaching the limits of an existing infrastructure, the PDN steps in and streaming load is distributed among all viewers creating a virtually limitless network. How peers connect with each other is governed by an intelligent tracker, which “conducts” them and falls back to CDN if peering is sub-optimal.

Using standardized protocols

Viblast’s solution does not require viewers to install any plug-ins or specific players. It feeds a single stream to all platforms and devices. The company chose Apple’s popular adaptive streaming video protocol, HLS, which most content broadcasters provide in order to reach mobile devices. This eliminates the need for a broadcaster to develop multiple streaming formats.

The web technology is based on HTML5 and WebRTC, which allow peering to be established reliably and securely. There is no inherent risk for individual viewers participating in the peer network as the content transfer occurs in the sandboxed environment of the browser. It is precisely the WebRTC component that enables browsers to communicate with each other in a P2P fashion. Another advantage of this solution is that it eliminates the requirement for viewers to install plug-ins.

Addressing the video industry challenges

This web platform will optimize the service of TV broadcasters’ online channels, as well as OTT content providers and even the hype-generating game streaming platforms such as Twitch.tv and Hitbox.tv. Further potential uses within the enterprise world are possible. For example, a large facility to easily and cost-effectively deliver internal broadcasts to staff, no matter their location. Also, this solution could be integrated as an added-value component with turnkey online video solutions such as Wowza Streaming Engine™.

Viblast addresses some of the video streaming industry’s most pressing problems. It connects viewers in a powerful peer-to-peer network, which, as participants grow in numbers, enhances its own capacity to transfer high-quality content. In this way, stream quality remains unaffected by unexpected viewership peaks, and, in fact, is likely to be improved. Finally, Viblast is easily integrated with existing streaming infrastructures and as a plugin-free user solution, seamlessly boosts user experience.

This article first appeared in The Broadcast Bridge on 13 Oct 2014. Republished here with slight modifications.

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