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No need for live streamed UHD events like sports to be 30 seconds behind broadcast

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OTT content and service providers are being offered an end-to-end, pre-integrated solution to enable ultra-low latency on live streaming programmes in UHD. This function is particularly valuable for live events like sports. The one-stop offer from Anevia and Keepixo aims to largely eradicate the sometimes 30+ second delays between true live and when an OTT/multiscreen viewer sees the action, which creates the constant risk of ‘spoiler’ alerts.

Anevia provides OTT/multiscreen and IPTV software solutions for live TV, near-live and VOD requirements and is integrating Keepixo’s ultra-low latency encoder.The companies claim this will be one of the only software-based solutions on the market to enable ultra-low latency UHD delivery.

A spokesperson at Anevia says the main innovation that enables live streaming latency to be reduced is found in the OTT packaging. The company uses CMAF-LLC, whose syntax allows users to create and convey long segments (typically six seconds) of video as a series of shorter fragments (down to one video frame). With this packaging mode, the encoder can still create an ‘I’ frame every six seconds if it wishes to do so; and the OTT packager will still create a single mp4 file of six seconds; but that file will be created progressively from fragments of as little as one video frame.

“The main advantage is to decouple the ‘I’ frame period (which can be kept long, to ensure the best possible video quality), from the packaging latency,” the spokesperson adds.

The second big change is on the delivery side. The chain of HTTP servers and caches in the CDN must be aware of this changed packaging mode and transmit the fragments using the HTTP-chunked transfer protocol without waiting for the six second file to be completely finalised. “The CDN has to implement those protocols and it must be resilient to such fragmented traffic,” Anevia points out.

The third noticeable change is on the player side. The player must be able to receive the chunked HTTP content and start playing the video stream as soon as it has enough data to process, rather than waiting to buffer the entire six second file. This makes bitrate adaptation more complex on the player side, since it has less time to make its switching decisions.

Discussing the market need for this solution, Damien Lucas, CTO for Anevia, comments: “The issue of latency, specifically in live OTT environments, can have a really damaging effect on the overall user experience. In some cases, these streams are being delivered to viewers 30 seconds later than the live broadcast, which means that someone watching a football match might see news about the latest goal on their smartphone before it happens on their screen. This can be extremely frustrating and can often result in the viewer switching providers altogether.

“The answer to this latency problem does not revolve solely around CDNs or origin packagers but is about bringing all of these components, including encoders, together and delivering it to the operator in a single integrated package,” Lucas continues. “This also makes it much easier for the operator to deploy and considerably reduces time-to-market. This is what we are looking to achieve through our work with Keepixo.”

Jerome Blanc, the COO at Keepixo, adds: “This solution could change OTT streaming as we know it. By combining our encoding technology with Anevia’s innovative software-based solutions, we will be able to deliver a UHD viewing experience via OTT that far surpasses what consumers are currently used to, both from a quality and latency perspective.”

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