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As viewer preferences continue to shift from linear to online television, accelerating the video streaming market, the demand for sports and other live programming options continues to grow in kind. We forecast live video streaming to grow at CAGR 10% to 91 million subscribers in 2024. However, achieving low latency remains a challenging issue in Over-the-Top services. For a superior user experience, particularly within live streaming, low latency will prove to be indispensable toward achieving ROI and customer satisfaction.

The Difference is Clear

Typical latency of HTTP streaming, which includes mobile devices, web browsers, and various media servers, is around 40 seconds; meanwhile, broadcast latency normally sits at around five seconds. High latency can negatively impact the viewing experience, which is especially true when it comes to sports streaming, which has developed as a strong player in the live streaming segment. In fact, cord-cutters are willing to get live streaming services for sports programs, but high delays and frequent buffering in comparison to broadcast sources can cloud the experience. According to content provider Limelight Networks, video buffering is streaming customers' primary frustration; nearly 30% of viewers are likely to end a video after the first occurrence, which increases significantly to 66% after a second rebuffering. 

Consumers have taken notice in a rapidly-growing market that hosts a number of service providers; subscription Video on Demand (VoD) services, live and VoD streaming services provided by pay-TV operators, and direct-to-consumer services such as HBO are all competing for market share. Apple TV+ and Disney+ are sure to be close behind after their recent launches as well. As service providers continue to invest in optimizing their quality of service, supporting low latency streaming is becoming a differentiator.

Meanwhile, vendors for applications such as cloud gaming, eSports streaming, and online betting are also keeping a close eye on how higher latency affects their users. In these cases, any delay could prevent the user experience from occurring entirely, if latency exceeds those applications' minimum possible requirements.

Solutions to Achieving Low Latency

Live video streaming is clearly growing in popularity among cord-cutters and cord-nevers. Sports is among the key drivers of live video streaming services, so service providers need to invest in content delivery solutions that support broadcast-level latency. Live sports streaming at broadcast-level latency will help service providers increase their subscriber base and maintain user satfisfaction.

Athough a wide range of latency solutions exist—from encoding to content delivery network (CDN) optimization—not al are created equal. Solution providers support a number of streaming protocols such as SRT, Low Latency CMAF, and Apple Low Latency, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Service providers and content distributors will need to consider individual use cases, such as targeted video quality and audience reach, to provide the best solutions for the business requirement. When a proper evaluation between video qualities, deployment cost, and business cases is executed for low latency streaming solution deployment, service providers can offer a high-quality streaming service and improve churn and revenue.  

ABI Research's Video & Cloud Services covers the rapid transition of video consumption devices, services, business models, and technologies in the end-to-end video ecosystem. Included in the research service is our Low and Ultra-Low Latency Video report, as well as additional research, data, and analyst insights. 

 

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