2019 Video Streaming Latency ReportSeptember 16, 2019 Streaming has found its way into our living rooms, workplaces, mobile phones, and community spaces. Today’s audiences demand high-definition content and smooth video delivery, no matter where they are or what device they’re using. And with an increasing number of videos being delivered live, minimizing latency is key. This report gathers data from 391 broadcasters across the globe, in industries ranging from sports and live events to radio, gaming, and everything in between. While OTT content has traditionally been delivered with far more latency than cable and satellite broadcasts, we expect new technologies like Apple’s Low-Latency HLS and low-latency CMAF for DASH (collectively referred to as HTTP Low Latency) to change the landscape forever. What’s more, speedy video delivery is now anyone’s for the taking. We’re excited to see how both boutique organizations and media giants use streaming to engage their customers in the decade ahead. Thanks to all our survey participants for giving us the insight needed to inform our readers. The video streaming space is an exciting place to be! Download the PDF or keep scrolling to see the findings.
- Use cases continue to explode. While OTT and live sports still lead the way, a whopping 26% of survey respondents didn’t fit into any of the seven given categories. Our favorite niche use cases? Live commerce, healthcare, and situational awareness.
- High-quality video reigns supreme. Or, to put another way: sacrificing video quality for low latency simply isn’t an option.
- The majority of video streams are still lagging behind cable broadcasts in terms of delivery speed.
- Sub-three-second latency is the sweet spot… and 2020 is the year. Whether by chance or by plan, it’s all happening in 2020. HTTP Low Latency technologies are set to delivery sub-three-second streams at scale in the near future.
- HLS continues to deliver the majority of streaming media. Which explains why vendors across the streaming landscape are busy at work implementing support for the new Low-Latency HLS spec.
Q1: Use Cases
What is your use case?While our survey broke out live sports and OTT as distinct categories, there’s obviously overlap between the two. Together, they accounted for nearly half of our respondents. We’ve all heard of (or experienced) the scenario where a neighbor loudly celebrates the game-winning touchdown while your OTT broadcast lags 20 seconds behind. Advancements in latency soon promise to make this a thing of the past. What’s more, today’s sports fans consume content in a variety of ways supplementary to television broadcasts. These include highlight reels, training camp live streams, and game recaps.
Use cases abound.Streaming technology is more accessible than ever. For this reason, there’s no limit to how organizations are using it to develop innovative products and engage with customers. A huge share of our respondents didn’t fit into any of our clear-cut categories — and we only expect use cases diversity to grow.
Q2: UX Priority
What is the most important UX factor for your use case?Viewers don’t appreciate high-quality video. They simply expect it. So, while reducing the delay between capture and playback is a worthy effort, quality remains top of the list for broadcasters. The second and third most important UX factors reported were low end-to-end latency and real-time interactivity. And while low-latency broadcasts aren’t necessarily interactive, you can bet your bottom dollar that interactive streaming requires low latency.
Q3: Current Latency
How much latency are you currently experiencing?Assuming that at least some of the content distributors in the ‘sub-10 second’ category are north of five seconds, the majority of video streams are still lagging behind cable broadcasts. This would make sense, because tuned HLS and DASH fall in the 6–12 second range, and 41% of participants indicated that they were using short segment duration to reduce latency in question 10.
Q4: Desired Latency
How much latency do you hope to achieve in the future?The majority of survey participants hope to achieve sub-three-second delivery. Luckily, this should be easily achievable as support is rolled out for Apple Low-Latency HLS and low-latency CMAF for DASH. The two specifications promise to drop end-to-end delivery time from 30–45 seconds to less than three seconds.
Q5: Low-Latency Service Use
Are you currently using low-latency live streaming services?Most broadcasters haven’t made the switch to low-latency services. Why? The reasons range from budget constraints and other priorities to using alternatives like RTMP and short segment lengths.
Q6: Timeframe for Low-Latency Implementation
When do you plan to start using a low-latency technology?2020 is the year most broadcasters plan to address video lag head-on. Many responders indicated that they were waiting for the HTTP Low Latency implementations to gain support and work out any bugs. The end-of-life date for Flash was also listed as a strong motivator for implementing new technology.
Q7: Need for Low-Latency Streaming
What problem is low latency solving for you?The top responses included:
- Improving user experience
- Enables interactivity
- Enabling real time for emergency responders
- Competing with broadcast television
- Supports remote monitoring and control
- Synchronized video feed and chat or gambling
- Allows for second-screen and multimedia experiences
- Supports quick reactions in medical procedures