Buffering, lag, low resolution. We’ve all experienced these video quality problems as viewers. For professionals and businesses, poor-quality videos can have a negative impact on your brand. To help you create high-quality streams, this post will look at how to improve video streaming quality for all your viewers.
Specifically, we’ll discuss what you can do as a broadcaster to improve the quality when you stream live video.
In general, streaming quality seems to be increasing, with video start failures down 33 percent year-over-year, buffering down 41 percent, and picture quality up 25 percent. Now, let’s keep these trends moving in the right direction with the following tips.
Table of Contents
- Maximizing Quality Up Front
- Encoder Settings
- Upload Speed
- Selecting the Right Online Video Platform
- Transcoding and Multi-Bitrate Streaming
- Test Thoroughly
- 24/7 Customer Support
How to Improve Video Streaming Quality in 8 Steps
1. Maximizing Quality Up Front
Any problem your viewers have is a problem you have. One survey showed that 62 percent of viewers are likely to view a brand more negatively if they publish a poor quality video.
Before describing how to improve quality, we need to define two different types of quality issues. There are those you can control, and those you can’t.
As a broadcaster, you can control the initial quality: quality in. However, you don’t have much control over the viewer. They may simply have a slow internet connection or an outdated device. It isn’t much you can do to help them.
Viewers don’t like to watch a poor quality video. Bad quality reflects poorly on your business. Luckily, good quality will mitigate some of the issues on the other end.
Cell phone cameras usually provide a poor quality video. And older cameras may have low resolution and poor image processing. As the saying goes, garbage in, garbage out. That’s especially true in low light. If your original recording is poor quality, there is nothing you can do to fix it.
Therefore, using a good quality camera will provide the best possible image at the very beginning of your broadcast. There’s no excuse for not using a full HD or 4K camera in 2019 and beyond.
Click here for our camera recommendations.
3. Encoder Settings
An encoder transmits almost all live streams. Simply put, an encoder is a software or hardware tool that transcodes your video into streaming compatible formats. From there, your content can reach your online video platform to stream live (or on-demand content) to your viewers.
Here are our recommended encoder settings.
- Video Codec: H.264 (Main or High Profile)
- Audio Codec: AAC
- Variable Bitrate: On
- Frames Per Second: 30 is standard
- Keyframe Interval: 2 seconds
There are other important encoder settings like video resolution, video bitrate, and audio bitrate. For recommendations on these values, read our full guide to encoder settings.
4. Upload Speed
When you broadcast streaming video, you need sufficient internet speed to sustain the streaming. For live video, your upload bandwidth should be at least twice your broadcast bitrate.
To determine your broadcast bitrate, add your video bitrate to your audio bitrate. If you are broadcasting in multi-bitrates, add all of them together.
Here are a few more recommendations for getting the most out of your connection:
- If possible, use a wired Ethernet connection. WiFi can be unstable
- If you must use WiFi, move close to the router to ensure a clear signal.
- Close unnecessary web browsers and applications to free up bandwidth.
- Remove other devices from the network. Every additional device on a network draws more bandwidth.
- If necessary, purchase a faster internet plan. Remember, for broadcasters the upload speed may be more important than download speed.
5. Selecting the Right Online Video Platform
The next method to maximize video streaming quality is to select the right online video platform. An OVP provides streaming solutions for managing and hosting content. They may also provide other tools for monetization, security, and so on.
There are three ways that OVPs can directly influence quality.
- The first is content delivery. Look for an OVP that uses a large, well-respected CDN like Akamai. A network like this will ensure rapid content distribution. Also, it will scale to a large audience smoothly.
- Second is quality limits. Look for an OVP that allows you to broadcast in 1080p full HD. In general, 4K broadcasting isn’t ready for the mainstream.
- In the next section, we’ll look at the third way your OVP influences video streaming quality.
6. Transcoding and Multi-Bitrate Streaming
Another way that your OVP can influence video streaming quality is through transcoding and multi-bitrate streaming.
Modern video players are adaptive. This means that they automatically detect the viewer’s internet speed and adjust accordingly. For a viewer on a slow connection, they’ll deliver a lower quality video. For those on a fast connection, the video quality will be higher.
This is dependent on your OVP offering transcoding and multi-bitrate streaming. Multi-bitrate streaming refers to the process of sending a live stream out in multiple different qualities at once. Transcoding does a similar thing, but for VOD. Plus, transcoding happens in the cloud.
If you want to improve video streaming quality, make sure your OVP supports these features.
7. Test Thoroughly
This isn’t a technical recommendation. However, skipping testing is a bad idea. Streaming video has a lot of moving parts. We recommend you engage in thorough testing before launching your content. This could look like:
- Test video embeds on your website. Does everything look correct?
- If using multi-bitrate streaming, test video quality at different bitrate levels. Are different levels available and viewable?
- Test videos on both slow and fast internet connections. If buffering minimal?
- Conduct a test transitioning from fast to slow internet. Does the video player adapt?
- Do some stress testing for encoders, cameras, and other equipment. Will equipment fail under load?
- Test your total workflow. Make a test live stream and broadcast privately. Does everything work properly?
8. 24/7 Customer Support
Lastly, we’ll wrap up our review of how to improve video streaming quality with a final non-technical solution. Customer support is critical for video streaming quality. When a problem arises, you can’t afford a long wait-time to get a solution.
That’s because streaming happens at all times. The evening is a peak time for video. Ideally, your tech support should also be available via phone, chat, and email. You don’t want to have to chat with a bot or submit a ticket for a later response, all while your video streaming quality suffers.
As a broadcaster, you need to know how to maximize the quality of your broadcasts. In this post, we’ve covered the topic of how to improve video streaming quality for your viewers. Of course, these are only a few of the suggested methods for dealing with the most common video streaming quality problems. For related articles on all things streaming, you can also check out the Dacast blog.
Here at Dacast, we offer an online video platform designed to maximize quality. We offer multi-bitrate streaming, Akamai delivery, an adaptive video player, cloud transcoding, and full HD streaming on all accounts.
In fact, if you’re new to Dacast, you can try out our CDN-integrated white-label streaming platform for yourself. Why not sign up for a 30-day free trial (no credit card required)? That way, you can test out all the features before making a commitment. We’d love to help you create your account today!
Do you have further questions or comments about broadcasting with Dacast and implementing these best practices? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.