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the connected world supplement special report Supplement sponsored by

This summer’s Olympic Games in London drew record-breaking audiences for broadcasters, even if many viewers weren’t huddled around their TV screens to watch. At least, not in the traditional sense. Thanks to advanced video streaming technology, massive global sporting events can now reach more people, on more devices, using methods that don’t carry the cost of a spaceship to implement. That’s because the wide availability of streaming video to Web and mobile devices is forever changing the viewing habits of video consumers. Broadcasters and media technology firms are noticing, adjusting, and delivering. Peter Maag, chief marketing officer at Haivision, reports.

Faster, stronger, and to more devices V

ideo streaming has seen rapid improvement over the past few years, with quality often approaching or even exceeding broadcast, and is able to reach users on any

device, desktop or mobile, on a fast or slow network. Gone are the days of the passive viewer experience - people want personalised interactive involvement that puts them in control of their content, and they want to view it on the screen of their choice. Which brings us back to this past summer’s biggest event: the Olympics. Still faster, higher, stronger? Yes, but also faster, stronger, and to more devices.

By taking

advantage of live cloud transcoding and first-class content

management, sports fans are left with only one thing to do: charge up their devices, then sit back and enjoy the action.

Streaming global sports

So what exactly goes into streaming a major global sporting event? How do you give users the content they want, when they want it, on the device of their choice? First, let’s start with the technology. • Encoding: a video encoder digitally

compresses individual input streams (feeds) for delivery over IP networks. For on-site encoding, the biggest challenge is to provide the most efficient use of uplink bandwidth and deliver the highest quality streams - combining the highest quality compression with a very stable stream output. For instance, Haivision’s KulaByte encoder features Dynamic Stream Shaping (DSS) that automatically adjusts the encoding bitrate to network conditions, making sure that the streaming experience is maximised at all times. In practice, this means that if the uplink bandwidth is nominally 5 Mbps, and suddenly the uplink bandwidth drops to 3 Mbps, an encoder like KulaByte will automatically adjust to a lower bitrate configuration in order to maintain an uninterrupted connection at full frame rate. After all, what could be worse than being seconds away from the photo finish of a favourite sporting event only to have the video

S32 l ibe l the connected world supplement september/october 2012 l

drop to an unbearably low frame rate or worse, stop altogether? • Transcoding: once the feed has

been encoded to a single high quality stream, the transcoder takes that compressed video signal and turns it into different stream formats based on bitrate, frame rate, frame size, or encapsulation tailored for different viewing devices. Different devices require different encapsulation. For example, the Apple iPad is optimised for HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) using H.264 main profile, and the iPhone can only accommodate the lower quality of HLS with baseline profile. Computers running Flash can accommodate Dynamic RTMP or HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS) up to high profile. Reaching all viewers with the appropriate compression settings and encapsulation is the task of the transcoder. Because users’ connection speeds

can change over time, the output streams are also required to support adaptive bit rate (ABR) delivery. For every device group (such as iPhones, iPads, Androids, and computers) a series of streams accommodating different bandwidths are generated from every source, that way all users can enjoy the best video regardless of their network connection. For every source input, up to five output

Continued on Page S34.

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