Akamai Technologies says it is bringing the consistency and reliability of broadcast television to the Internet and used NAB 2017 to demonstrate the technologies that make this possible. liveOrigin includes four components that can be used by companies running full-time television channels online, and which are available immediately.
Broadcast-quality ingestion is the first component. “The transfer of video from its origination point to the delivery network is a crucial step in linear streaming,” the company says. “We have built a highly distributed ingestion network using our proven mapping technology to match encoders to the most optimal entry point, creating a system that can automatically route content to different entry points with no viewer impact if the connection is interrupted.”
These capabilities are complemented with ingest acceleration, based on Akamai’s Media Acceleration technology, to support throughput of higher bit rates. This also mitigates and circumvents poor network connectivity.
The second component is low latency. Akamai is introducing 10-second latency as part of Media Services Live (a suite of products designed to bring scale and reliability to live streaming, and which includes liveOrigin) addressing the need for online and broadcast content to play back for viewers near-simultaneously. “Particularly important for broadcasters and live sports and news providers, this feature dramatically reduces what has traditionally been a 30-second-or-more delay between broadcast signals and online streams.”
A self-healing network is the third part of liveOrigin. Akamai has incorporated multiple layers of redundancy into Media Services Live in which content is replicated to multiple locations across the network. The design allows for immediate failover if performance is in any way degraded.
Monitoring and reporting completes the collection. Media Services Live includes near real-time reporting to give customers critical insights into content and ingest performance. The capabilities remove the need to look at log files and instead provide at-a-glance visualizations of critical, stream-level metrics such as average bitrate, latency, packet loss and error rate. Users can set custom thresholds for key metrics that activate alerts when exceeded.
“Akamai Media Services Live is designed from the ground up to explicitly span the chasm between live streaming and broadcast television,” explains Michael Fay, Vice President, Media Products and Operations at Akamai. “Media Services Live is dedicated and optimized to support the unique and rigorous demands of delivering live and linear 24/7 channels online with features and performance capabilities that simply are not available from commodity storage and delivery services.
“As OTT operators and broadcasters build their online businesses and expand their programming, linear channels and the related viewing experience is playing a key role in the ability to differentiate services,” Fay continues. “Having a platform that is able to support the quality of experience necessary to attract and keep customers will be critical as broadcast TV continues its shift online.”
Sam Rosen, Vice President at ABI Research, says: “Most broadcast video distribution solutions neglect the first critical link of the video chain: content ingestion. Packet drops or outages cause drops in quality or total loss of the feed. This crisis leaves operations teams scrambling to get the content back online as customers look for alternative sources for critical live matches or first-broadcast linear content. Akamai’s latest addition to Media Services Live – liveOrigin – uses multiple technologies and operational capabilities to bring broadcast-quality reliability and redundancy to OTT services.”