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Is frame accuracy really needed for streaming video?

by Larry on Thursday, December 27, 2012 4:43 PM

    Recently Phil Kurz of Broadcast Engineering posted an article summarizing a study completed by the University of Massachusetts and Akamai showing how video stream quality impacts the behavior of viewers. That article, “Research quantifies how video stream quality affects viewer behavior” highlights how important the quality of the viewing experience is to viewers of streaming content.

    In the study, they measured how long it takes viewers to abandon the viewing experience after experiencing these types of streaming issues:

    • Failure of the steaming content to start
    • A startup delay in the streaming content
    • The normalized re-buffer delay which causes interruption or “freezing” in the stream

     The results of the study show:

    1. A startup delay will cause viewers to abandon the streaming content and as that delay increases, there is greater abandonment of viewers.
    2. It takes a very short period of time for viewers to abandon the experience, typically on the order of 2 seconds or so.
    3. If you are streaming short video clips and there are problems, viewers will abandon faster than for long clips.
    4. If viewers are using faster devices with faster connection speeds, they have less patience for stream problems and will abandon faster.
    5. Viewers who experience a failed visit are less likely to return to that site to view more videos than similar viewers who did not experience a failed visit.

    So, what are the implications for a streaming content provider, particularly for operations requiring dynamic replacement of content in the stream? As you stream your content to viewers, you do want to ensure they have the highest quality of experience – comparable to what they have come to expect for your main linear broadcast.

    In addition, once you start introducing operations that are designed to replace programs or commercial spots or blocks, you increase the chance that streaming failures like those noted above might happen.

    To ensure that your streaming product maintains the highest quality possible, you need to ensure that all systems involved in the streaming process operate in a frame accurate manner.

    Fortunately, for dynamic content replacement, VDS Streamliner, with the right mix of downstream gear and software, is accurate to the frame.

    Streamliner is VDS’s product for sending SCTE104 messages via IP to a VANC (Vertical Ancillary data) inserter which then embeds these messages into the video stream as SCTE35 messages. These messages in turn then get interpreted and acted upon downstream. In the case of a system with Streamliner, that downstream system substitutes programs or commercial spots or blocks that were in the original linear broadcast based on the SCTE104/35 message content it received in the stream.

    That message content could include information such as:

    • The ID of the content, either program or commercial spot that is currently being played out by the linear broadcast/cable channel.
    • The duration of the content
    • The start time of the content
    • Preroll time
    • Any custom payload


    As Streamliner operates in conjunction with the downstream devices, frame accuracy helps to ensure that the viewer, watching the content on their computer, tablet or phone, will not see any interruption in the video stream as the content gets substituted. This means more satisfied, interested viewers and that translates into more potential revenue for Broadcasters, Cable Companies or other content providers.

    So, the answer is yes! For the best quality streaming video experience, frame accuracy really is needed.

    If you'd like to learn more about Streamliner its frame accurate operation and what it can do to help you with your live streaming, let us know.

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