How to future-proof your live stream delivery

Technology is too often thought of as a solution for right now. As a foundation of our industry and one of the biggest costs for most companies in it, we must approach our technology expenditure as an investment in our future, not a solution to the present. And technology investment is only increasing according to research vice president at Gartner Monika Sinha: “In fact, technology investments are going to be at the highest they’ve been over the last decade.”

The future is, of course, full of unexpected surprises. The most obvious of these was the pandemic. But with crises come solutions that stretch far beyond them. Covid saw remote and hybrid work explode and the importance of strong digital connectivity and video capabilities did with it. In one study by Socialive, 88% of enterprises predicted that their investment in video content output would increase this year. 

The increase in video streaming, specifically live OTT streaming direct to consumers, appears to be one trend that we can be fairly certain will continue to increase. These services are booming and show no signs of slowing down as content providers and rights owners seek to offer their content to consumers. Consumer spending on streaming services went up by 34% in 2020, according to US Subscription TV Forecast, hitting 39.5 billion USD and Digital TV Research predicts that the total number of TV streaming subscribers will climb to 1.64 billion by 2026.

Technology is advancing exponentially and the Law of Accelerating Returns states that with every advancement, the time until the next is shortened, thanks to the growing pool of data and technology available to the next creators. But how do our wallets keep up with our inventions? How do you make sure that money is spent well and not on investments that are likely to be out of date before they are even fully established? 

Here are a number of policies that will help you make sure you are not wasting money now that won’t serve you in the future.

Know what you do 

Sounds ridiculous. Obviously, you know what you do. But do you know every step? Can you review your systems and processes to see if and how each piece of the puzzle fits into the others? It may be complicated for one individual to have a complete understanding of a large and complex company but speak to the experts in each part of your company’s video delivery journey to ensure that each piece makes sense. 

In terms of the OTT live streaming market, content providers have turned to multiple third-party CDNs and supplemental system providers with little understanding of what they do and how they can be adjusted to improve consumer experience and reduce costs. Companies such as System 73 simplify the number of deals with CDN providers one has to make and monitor while also greatly increasing the amount of information and adjustments one can make to that system and the ease and speed with which these are done. 

Know what you need

Once you establish what you do and the needs of each process, you will be able to identify redundancies and excesses. If one issue can be resolved earlier in the process, you may be able to save on dealing with it later for a higher price. Invest in analytical services that can tell you where changes in consumption, production and delivery are occurring so you can understand technological trends and decide whether they are important to the product you are trying to deliver. It’s no use streaming a 4K if your clients devices can’t process it but don’t deny yourself that opportunity in a future where their devices will be able to. Find yourself a system that does both wherever possible. Keep up to date with what developing technologies can offer you and then evaluate if you really need that solution for your own. What are you paying for that you no longer need? What are you relying on blindly that could be improved with ease and efficiency? 

One of the biggest needs of live streamers is reliability. Lagging video, rebuffering and low quality images or crashing streams hit profits. Highly responsive systems monitored and managed by artificial intelligence are needed to be able to modify systems seamlessly before any congestion hits user experience. Analysis and adjustment during streams and further analysis after the fact will enable any company to ensure their live streams are as prepared as possible for any eventuality. System 73’s intelligent technology can facilitate this sort of action even during peaks in live streaming, for example during sports games, by spreading the load through their network and spotting where a problem is occurring in the delivery line as opposed to where the issue is noticeable to users. This will become increasingly important as spikes in OTT traffic are expected to increase by up to 80% year-on-year, according to the latest global CDN figures.

Know what works together

Cohesion is a cornerstone of any well-functioning technology. Ask yourself (and your colleagues!) whether the many different types of software and hardware complement each other in your live streams. Review your streams after every production. If there are clear points in the production line that are causing issues or could predictably cause issues as you update your product, establish why, how and when to fix them and for how much money. 

Know who works together 

If you have a multi-organisation, multi-system and multi-regional supply chain, the need to coordinate cohesion only increases. With different technologies, from CDN types to file types to consumer devices, make sure that each technology investment will benefit as many components in your supply chain as possible. 

System 73 understands that there is significant value for all parties if content providers and network operators collaborate so that investments in networks and infrastructure are optimized universally. But we take it one step further. A network operator will do a better job than a CDN at picking where to route content thanks to their greater understanding of the terrain they operate in. But, in our case, we believe an AI can do an even better job than the CDN & network operator because it can make decisions prior to the issue appearing. Our AI is capable of making calculations and actioning them before a human being has even had time to reach for their calculator. 

Know how little you know

Stay humble and keep checking in to make sure what you bought yesterday will work tomorrow. Establish clear and measurable goals and KPIs that achieve what you are trying to achieve and improve how you do so year on year. Work hard on these systems and work hard to criticize, unpack, remake and improve them. 

These are just a few easy steps that will help you ensure that your investments in live-stream technology stand the test of time and your business can grow with them.