Sohag Sarkar, Management Consultant & TMT , Advisor

In the early days, watching online videos used to test one’s patience rather than provide contentment value. Cable and satellite broadcasting still enjoy the popularity, today, as their content delivery had been flawless; something the Internet could not offer up until recently. Media streaming technologies thus emerged which gave online video delivery a big leap.

The high-level video streaming process involves five key elements:

  • Capture: To acquire an audio/video (AV) through a capture device
  • Encode: To digitize, encode, compress, and/or optimize the AV source
  • Process: To optimize it for multiple display qualities for adaptive streaming (attuned to end-user device, Internet bandwidth, and other considerations)
  • Delivery: To deliver the processed video fragments to the end users’ device or player
  • Consume: To consume the video stream using a video player on multiple platforms namely smart device, laptop, game console, smart TV, etc.

Each leg of the process has undergone specialization and innovation to provide superior delivery to the end-user. Based on the time dimension, streaming may be defined as live or on-demand.

Live Streaming

The process for live streaming is slightly different considering the real-time dimension. The time relevance factor makes the margin of error fairly low. Interestingly, the end-to-end process from capture-to-consume is completed within few seconds (or near real-time) of the actual event. Today, the use cases of live streaming are limitless given the technology advancement:

  • Sports: The most common and popular live streaming use case
  • Business events: Management speech or message to geographically spread-out employees
  • Product launches: Like Apple product launch
  • Concerts/events: Music, fashion, comedy, etc. including behind-the-screen look for deeper fan engagement
  • Conventions: Like World Economic Forum or Indian Mobile Congress
  • Training: Tutor assisted e-classrooms
  • Personal connect: Using social media platforms or propriety device software
  • Others: News, political meeting, religious services, etc.

Future Outlook

The key drivers have made live streaming truly mainstream. The next growth wave has been triggered by social media players like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter, etc. They have empowered every smart device user to live stream video without having advanced skills or device capabilities. The current popularity of live streaming is astronomically high for the sports genre while other use cases would soon gather traction in the near future.