Matt Parker (Director Business Development, Edgeware AB) closed last month’s OTTtv World Summit with an excellent keynote, and IP&TV News caught up with him after to discuss the presentation in more detail…
IP&TV News: Hi Matt. You’ve spent the entire week at the OTTtv World Summit – what have been the dominant themes?
Matt Parker: I think everything we’ve heard so far has been about quality of experience, the fickleness of the modern viewer, the fact that they have options, the fact there is more and more content – content of different types – and about how this content is extremely expensive to create or buy.
What I’d add into the mix is the increasing amount of live and linear OTT content. Particularly live sports and how this is used to capture audience attention, draw that audience in, and then supplement that experience with other elements of content, in the closest possible live proximity to the event as possible.
What’s needed for this industry’s collective vision to be realised?
It requires an extremely efficient video system, from the point of content capture to the point of content consumption. To date I think there has been a natural reliance on third party CDN providers to manage almost everything necessary to carry that content. The third party CDN won’t go away, and here at Edgeware we don’t recommend that it does completely, because a distributed CDN is vital for a good quality of experience.
However, what we are beginning to challenge is the notion that these CDNs do everything. These CDNs – when you look at them objectively – are more than just CDNs. They are performing many of the processing functions. They will be ingesting content, repackaging it, doing elements of the encryption and security of that content, and more recently, managing and owning the manipulation of that content, particularly ad-insertion elements. This is really restricting the control of the content owner and the broadcaster in terms of what they can achieve from an overall positive quality of experience.
Why is this?
Well, a lot of these CDNs are extremely dated and have been built on technology designed to push and pull email, not video. When you look at the data, whoever’s data you choose to believe – whether it’s Ericsson, Cisco, EE – video traffic will be accounting for anything up to 80-90% of all internet traffic in just a couple of years’ time.
CDNs that are built on platforms that aren’t designed to handle video in quantity are not going to scale, they are not going to grow efficiently, and they are increasingly going to become stressed with video load. This will lead to all of the negative things we hear about at events like the OTTtv World Summit – buffering, latency, failing streams, collapsing streams, and a lack of personalisation.
How is Edgeware able to ensure the required quality of experience?
To take control of all this, very, very effective thin video origins can be embedded right at the top of the video network.
Essentially, that’s giving control back to the broadcaster or the content owner, because they can then take on some of those processing points themselves. Think of repackaging, for instance. If you’re taking in a significant amount of content and then repackaging that and then you’re pushing them out to CDN partners then you’re only doing that packaging activity once, whereas if you’re relying on your CDN to do that you may have three different CDNs and you’re going to be paying them three times to do the same processing activity on the same piece of content.
Not only are we giving organisations the opportunity to liberate themselves from these closed book partnerships that aren’t effective, but in doing so we’re also allowing them to see an awful lot more and make that whole delivery very transparent. We have a very effective 360 analytics suite.
What Edgeware’s platform allows you to do is look at the front end very effectively. So, who’s watching what, where are they watching it on, where are your bottlenecks and, where are your risk points? And also you can look at the effectiveness of the delivery right the way through the delivery ecosystem. By building a local origin you’ll be able to see cache misses coming back from the CDN, so you can begin to challenge your CDN partner who to date has just been a completely closed book.
How obscure is that dynamic presently?
Most of the very large broadcasters that we talk to will quite openly state that they have very little by way of key performance indicators. It’s been described to us on more than one occasion as a completely closed book.
As the video traffic begins to saturate the whole of the internet, that’s no longer acceptable. Why would you leave it to chance? If you’re paying to carry premium content, if you’re investing huge amounts of money to create exclusive content, why would you risk compromising that delivery through being blind in terms of what’s actually happening at every stage of the delivery process?