It’s that time of year again. Time to start planning for the International Broadcasting Convention (or IBC as most of us know it). Here at servers.com we’re already busy polishing our dedicated server chat for this year’s event, which takes place at RAI Amsterdam from 15-18 September.
Each year the conference floor is a-flurry with talk of the latest trends, innovations, and product launches in the world of broadcasting. This year promises to be no different. We’re excited to be there to talk to attendees about the benefits of bare metal servers for streaming platforms. And, of course, to learn about the latest industry developments.
With that in mind, we sat down with our team of streaming industry specialists to discuss the hottest industry trends you should be following as we count down to IBC 2023.
Microsoft has announced that it will be retiring Azure Media Services on June 30, 2024. First released in 2012, Microsoft’s cloud-based platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution has since become a go-to for live and on-demand streaming services. Azure Media Services offered an all-in-one solution, including services like encoding, dynamic packaging, indexing, AI video analysis, and content protection.
Now that the platform is entering retirement, we’re starting to see smaller streaming companies vying for a piece of the pie. And for existing customers of Azure Media Services, Microsoft has announced a list of migration partners and independent software vendors offering solutions for migrating media services workflows through Azure Marketplace. These include Harmonic, MediaKind, Bitmovin, Ravnur, Eyevinn, Southworks, and WhDiYo. MediaKind, for instance, has just launched a new platform called MK/IO which functions as a high-performance, API-driven, video infrastructure for the building and running of video applications and streaming media services.
For anyone currently using Azure Media Services, the announcement has spurred discussion around the best migration solutions out there. As Christian Van Boven, SVP of Client Solutions and Integration at NAGRA, discusses in his recent LinkedIn post, at this moment in time it seems that the vendors offering the smoothest possible migration are Harmonic and Mediakind, along with Bitmovin which is already well established on Azure.
Not all too long ago the idea of building your own content delivery network (CDN) would have been laughable. Who would want to go through the labor and expense of doing such a thing when you could just use a commercial CDN? But times are changing. As companies look for more control over the performance and availability of their content, security, scalability, and cost, the idea of building a custom CDN has become more commonplace.
Cost is often one of the biggest factors. Since commercial CDN vendors tend to bill by bandwidth and requests-per-second (RPS), costs can quickly mount. And that means, in some cases, it can be more cost-effective to build your own. But there are other motivating factors, such as accessing points-of-presence (PoPs) that aren’t available from mainstream vendors and the ability to build a bespoke solution optimized for specialized types of content – say, adaptive bitrate video streaming, for instance.
Video-on-demand (VOD) is everywhere. But the jury’s still out as to the best monetization framework for VOD platforms. The gap between the two main camps, subscription-based-video-on-demand (SVOD) and advertising-based-video-on-demand (AVOD) is narrowing. SVOD primacy has long been taken for granted with the success of streaming giants like Netflix and Apple TV but amidst growing economic uncertainty, the popularity of free ad-supported content is once again gaining popularity as households try to keep costs down.
AVOD’s success is being fueled only further by growing advertiser demand. The ability to insert targeted ads before, during, and after VOD content is prime real-estate for advertisers. If this trend continues, we can expect to see more streaming platforms integrating ad-supported tiers to their platforms in developed markets such as the U.S and Europe. And in developing markets such as Latin America, we can expect to see the continued success of new, fully ad-supported, platforms like Pluto TV. In fact, Deloitte predicts that by 2030, most online video services will be partially or wholly ad funded.
There’s been a ton of innovation in the world of content creation this year. And most of that has to do with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Volumetric video capture (which generates interactive experiences through 3D scanned imagery) is paving the way for the future of interactive, lifelike virtual environments.
And the industry is embracing this technology thick and fast. In January, Accenture Ventures invested in Forma Vision, a provider of volumetric video technology that generates 3D holographic images in the metaverse. In April, Luma AI launched a plugin for a volumetric capture and immersive content creation suite called NVIDIA NeRF.
The maturation of volumetric technology is paving the way for a time when live streams will transcend two dimensions. And a time when live streaming through the metaverse could reach mass adoption. From an infrastructure perspective that means streaming platforms will need high specification GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) in their servers. Generally, in order to render a high-quality AR experience, you’ll need a GPU with:
8GB or higher video memory
A minimum memory speed of 7Gbps
An appropriate memory type (GDDR5 is recommended)
And we can’t talk about AR without mentioning Apple’s Vision Pro headset, which Disney has already staked a claim to. A demo reel for the collab between Disney and Apple demonstrated how viewers will be immersed in environments from sporting events to natural landscapes. Speaking at Apple’s WWDC 2023 keynote in June, Disney CEO Bob Iger remarked that Apple’s technology “will allow us to create deeply personal experiences that bring our fans closer to the characters they love”.
Demand for over-the-top (OTT) streaming is increasing at a rapid rate, as more and more consumers swap traditional broadcasting for online streaming services. To put this growth into perspective, OTT streaming platforms now account for approximately 75% of all global internet traffic. And by 2027, the number of people using OTT platforms is forecast to reach 4.22 billion.
Whilst that’s great news for the industry, it’s also the source of some anxiety. Because delivering seamless streaming experiences to large volumes of users all over the globe comes with huge architectural demands.
As OTT and live streaming platforms grow, they must build redundancy into their infrastructure to account for all potential points of failure. They must deploy CDNs and ensure points-of-presence in key locations close to target users. They must effectively manage large volumes of traffic, using load balancing to effectively distribute traffic across multiple CDNs. There’s a lot to consider.
Where does the future of video lie? It’s a big question. And some people believe the answer lies in decentralization. Co-founder and CEO of the open video infrastructure protocol Livepeer Doug Petkanics is one of those people. “In a decentralized network, with thousands of people competing to do the work at a low cost, you have high reliability without one point of failure. Any one of them can disappear, and you still have a whole network to do the work for you”, comments Petkanics.
At its simplest, decentralized video streaming means that no single entity has control over content delivery. Unlike a centralized video streaming approach, where clients receive content directly from a designated streaming server, decentralized video streaming uses a distributed application architecture called a peer-to-peer (P2P) network.
But there are still some significant roadblocks on the road to decentralized video distribution. Namely the problem of monetization and the cost and availability of file storage in a peer-to-peer file system. With blockchain-based streaming companies the likes of Theta, D.Tube, and Dlive seeking to compete with the streaming giants, the jury’s out as to whether decentralization is (or is not) the future of streaming.
Every year is an eventful year in broadcasting. And so far, 2023 has proven no different. These are the trends we think will be big on the conference center floor this year. But, no doubt, there will be some unexpected surprises too.
Are you attending IBC 2023?
Find our streaming specialist Lukas at the event, or book in a meeting in advance, to learn more about our dedicated servers for streaming.