The Complete Guide to Live Streaming:
Playback

The end-goal of live streaming is playback. And through the process of encoding, transcoding, and globally distributing the video content, your live video stream should do just that — at high quality, with low latency, and at any scale.

Multi-Device Delivery

 

If every viewer had a 4K home theater plugged into high-speed internet, delivering live streams would be easy. But that’s not the case.

 

Today’s viewers are out and about. A significant portion of your audience is on mobile devices, relying on depleted batteries and LTE connections. Other viewers stream content to their laptops using public Wi-Fi, or perhaps to their iPads via mobile hotspots.

 

Different screens and varying internet speeds make transcoding essential. And with adaptive bitrate streaming, you can deliver the highest-quality stream possible to internet-connected TVs and mobile users alike.

 

While the bulk of the work is complete at playback, a few final considerations remain: recording, monetization, and security.

Recording

 

Live streams disappear in the blink of an eye. But they don’t have to.

 

While recorded videos won’t match the immediacy and authenticity of a live stream, it’s still useful to have these files on hand for later use. That way, you can edit the video assets; enable immediate pause, rewind, and fast-forward capabilities; and repurpose them for marketing collateral or internal reference.

 

Sports fans often review game-changing plays during cable broadcasts, so why not provide your end users the same freedom when viewing your live streams? nDVR technology allows users to record a live stream while simultaneously playing, pausing, resuming, and rewinding the recorded stream. Content distributors can also further extend audience reach by transcoding a single set of recorded source files into multiple formats for streaming to any player and device.

Monetization

 

A successful stream is a revenue stream. Regardless of whether you’re crowdsourcing content from users via a mobile live-streaming app or producing it yourself, profitability often revolves around the ability to monetize content.

 

Live-streaming monetization comes in many shapes and sizes. Whereas surveillance streaming devices like doorbell cameras and service-oriented applications like virtual doctor visits generate revenue from different means altogether, some tactics can be employed across a range of industries. Below are the three most straightforward models for converting content into cash.

 

Subscriptions

 

Viewers are moving toward subscription-based content consumption due to the quality, lack of interruptions, and ability to take an à la carte approach to content selection. When an affordable monthly payment means the difference between low-brow, ad-riddled fluff and sought-after, commercial-free content — it’s a no-brainer.

 

Services like Netflix and HBO Go have championed subscription-based monetization. When using this model, the onus is on the provider to deliver content worthy of the investment. Adaptive bitrate streaming underpins this requirement, allowing content distributors to compete with industry giants on the basis of video quality and user experience.

 

Paywalls help restrict access to subscribed viewers, resulting in a recurring revenue for your business.

 

Transactions — Paywalls and Pay-Per-View Services

 

Gone are the days when seeing an event in real time meant you actually had to be there. Paywalls also enable pay-per-view revenue generation for live sporting events, concerts, and more.

 

Cord-cutting viewers expect the same on-demand live options that traditional satellite and cable services provide, which opens up opportunities for live-streaming broadcasts. Successfully monetizing these live events depends on two things: quick scalability for viewership spikes and minimal latency for near-real-time delivery.

 

Low-latency CMAF can help content distributors fulfill both of these requirements, allowing OTT to compete directly with cable broadcasts.

 

Advertising

 

Rather than generating revenue directly from viewers, many video service operators turn to advertising. Unlike traditional TV — where the content and ads come packaged together — internet streaming opens opportunities for user-specific advertisements based on the demographics of an individual viewer.

 

In addition to inserting ads into live streams, text and graphic overlays can be used for branding, advertising, or inserting a call to action.

 

Security

 

Security and monetization go hand in hand. Unauthorized access can compromise the revenue-boosting strategies of subscription and pay-per-view services. And when streaming content contains sensitive or private data, protection is key.

 

Secure streaming success with content protection at every step of the workflow. The primary ways to safeguard live streams are authentication, encryption, and digital rights management (DRM).

 

  • Authentication: User authentication ensures that only authorized users — like those who’ve paid or registered — have access to content.
  • Encryption: In online banking and email access, encryption is used to scramble the messages exchanged between your browser and the servers. This same process of ciphering and deciphering helps ensure that streaming content remains secure while travelling across the public internet.
  • Digital Rights Management (DRM): Digital rights management (DRM) technologies can be used to encrypt premium content. Unlike simple encryption, DRM workflows rely on both DRM vendors and third-party providers for more sophisticated protection.

     

    During encoding, each video file is encrypted with media keys from one or more DRM providers. Once the user attempts to access the live video, the player client communicates directly with the DRM server to confirm that the license is valid. Upon validation, the player gains access to the decryption key for playback.