Disney+ just launched, and from the moment the first of several million clicked ‘subscribe’, the home of the famous mouse had to be at the ready. As Fierce Video points out, the launch didn’t go without its hiccups. While Disney’s initial issues were just a matter of coding, any number of problems can arise in the complex streaming video delivery chain.
This is especially the case when companies are providing the holy grail of OTT streaming: live events. Live events only happen once. Cause users to miss a once-in-a-lifetime experience and that could very well result in subscribers leaving the platform.
Quality of Service (QoS) problems such as outages, buffering, and slow load times can cause result in subscriber attrition. The expectation today is for online live streaming to be very close to broadcast TV quality-wise, but this hasn’t been easy to implement across a complex streaming infrastructure. The solution to this problem? Cost-effective end-to-end visualization and surveillance of the entire streaming video delivery chain.
Stream E2E 2.0 Problem Management
The second iteration of our Stream E2E platform makes it easier to visualize the entire streaming video delivery chain. It allows service teams to get to the root cause of the problem faster which is critical to resolving issues quickly, especially with live events. Our StreamCam solution monitors streams and breaks down the delivery chain, allowing for 24/7 “surveillance” of a company’s streaming infrastructure via scripted agents.
By “surveillance”, we mean that Stream E2E allows video distributors a clear picture of how their entire cloud-based OTT delivery chain is working. The platform uses cloud-based scripted agents, or “bots” to monitor the delivery chain and alert for any errors that may arise.
This enables distributors to proactively fix problems, such as an unavailable bitrate, and resolve them before customer service gets inundated with complaints. A simple alert via our Stream E2E platform replaces having to comb the entire delivery chain manually after a problem arises, well after it will have already impacted the viewer experience. Incident Playback, a recent integration for Stream E2E allows distributors to “rewind” and replay past incidents, providing further insight.
Altogether, these solutions allow service teams to act like a high-skill security team for their streaming service. Instead of CCTV and ground operatives, think end-to-end visualization and bots. The E2E platform helps companies to rid themselves of inefficient work methods, such as manually diagnosing the entire streaming delivery chain.
Keeping a Loyal Customer Base
Why is all of this necessary? Simply put, online streaming viewers don’t have the patience they used to. As already mentioned, Disney+ has just launched. So has Apple TV+. HBO Max is coming in 2020. Google has released Google Stadia, it’s game streaming subscription service, and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings recently said the streaming service’s main rival is Fortnite. Subscription fatigue is already setting in and it will only get worse as more services are released. The more options available to consumers, the less they will put up with streams that buffer or don’t play at an exceedingly high quality.
Here are a few statistics that illustrate the problem. According to Akamai, as many as 50% of viewers will abandon a stream if it takes more than 5 seconds to load. 76% of viewers were also found to leave a service if their stream buffers several times. Quality of service is clearly tied to customer loyalty and the demand for quality will only get higher the more options on the table.
Now, we come back to resolving problems before customer service is called. Live monitoring solutions, such as Touchstream’s E2E platform, are essential for maintaining an advantage in the competitive streaming market.
Touchstream’s scripted agents are essentially a worldwide grid of bots that act like users. They constantly play back the entire delivery chain for clients in order to make sure all of the streaming video delivery chain components are available and operating correctly. Instead of hearing from unsatisfied customers, operators are immediately alerted by these “fake users” if there’s an issue or drop in streaming video quality. Often, they can fix them before they even manifest on the end user’s screen.
Flexibility and Scalability (Why Touchstream?)
In spite of the fact the OTT streaming market is growing at an incredible pace, or maybe because of it, many streaming providers are behind when it comes to their monitoring system. They often rely on physical probes and manual diagnosis of the delivery chain.
Touchstream’s technology replaces physical probes with scripted agents that can do the same job. These bots save the need for buying, maintaining, and replacing probes. The result is a more efficient and economic infrastructure for companies that they can run and easily install, as well as integrate into existing systems via the cloud.
Our technology can also be connected to any third-party business intelligence or analytics solution that supports data ingestion. You can choose to either receive Touchstream generated data on your own analytics or visualize the data via Touchstream’s E2E platform, which displays a live representation of every step of the streaming video delivery chain. The flexibility and scalability of our solution are what make it an efficient and economical choice for OTT live streamers that want to keep their viewers happy.
End-to-end live monitoring improves quality of service and gives operators an advantage in the increasingly competitive streaming industry. It allows distributors to quickly find the root of an issue and fix it so the viewers’ experience is not affected. For a more in-depth look at one of Stream E2E’s main features, Incident Playback, be sure to read our White Paper about ‘Moving From Triage To Post Mortem’ here.
Touchstream and the Streaming Video Alliance
Touchstream has been an Alliance member for over two years now. We joined because we believe that in order to face the challenge of making better online video experiences for everyone, the technical challenges must be tackled by companies across the indsutry. The discussions generated in the Alliance working groups and face-to-face meetings has allowed us to address the challenges alongside great key industry players that share the same goal. By working together we have been able to reinforce our technology as well as develop great thought leadership content that will help others in the video landscape in their quest for developing better online video.
About this Post
Each year, the Streaming Video Alliance opens its doors to innovative startups and small companies as part of its Membership Grant Program. For 2019, the Alliance welcomed a number of very interesting companies exploring and productizing technologies for the streaming video space. Touchstream is one of those companies which received it’s grant in 2018. They have remained a member of the grant program due to strong participation and engagement while also meeting the financial requirements of the program. This blog is part of a series showcasing each of our Grant Program recipients, the technical problems they hope to solve, and the value they bring to the streaming video ecosystem.