Are you or your business involved in streaming live video? If so, you should probably be using a live video CDN. A CDN, or Content Distribution Network, is made up of a network of servers located around the world. All together, these servers can help deliver content fast, boost security, and have many other benefits.
Video files are large. Anyone on a limited smartphone data plan knows that streaming can eat data fast. A full 79 percent of all global consumer web traffic will come from video by 2018. This also means that streaming video can run into quality and bandwidth problems.
This article will look specifically at how to deliver these large video files effectively by using a live streaming CDN. We will share the top 5 benefits of using a live video CDN. Then, we’ll discuss briefly the best CDNs for streaming video. Plus, we’ll point you towards some additional resources and tools for getting started with a CDN.
What is a CDN and how does it work?
Let’s do some quick definitions. As we’ve learned, Content Distribution Networks are made up of a network of computer servers. These servers are connected via high-speed fiber optic internet lines. They run complex code that allows them to intelligently route internet traffic to reduce congestion and increase speed.
You can break down the benefits of using a CDN into five main categories. Let’s look at each of these benefits in turn, starting with number five.
5. Global content delivery
Internet streaming video audiences are exploding around the world. In 2018, 2.38 billion people will watch streaming or downloaded video across all devices. More than three quarters will be using a mobile device. Are you prepared to reach a global audience?
When you’re using a single live streaming server or a small server farm to stream video, reaching a global audience can be difficult. Content has to bounce through numerous web nodes before it reaches the destination. This can increase video latency and buffering, plus reduce video quality.
A CDN can help to avoid this problem—especially if you’re using a CDN that has a wide distribution of servers. These are especially important in your target regions. If you need to reach an audience in east Asia, for example, look for a CDN with plenty of servers located in this region. Or if you simply want a maximum audience, look for a wide global distribution of servers.
This will allow your content to reach it’s destination rapidly and increase your ability to reach a global audience.
4. Technical outsourcing and cost savings
Using a live video CDN can produce major cost savings. It is possible to create your own live streaming infrastructure and servers. However, we don’t recommend it for a variety of reasons. Chief among these is the phenomenon of technical debt.
Technical debt refers to the time, expense, and staffing required to maintain an infrastructure (equipment, networking, applications, updates, security, etc.) once it is created. Essentially, the idea is that creating your own systems may seem like a good idea during a given time frame, but may come to be a headache to maintain and expand as your systems and dominant technology changes.
Using a CDN to stream live video on a website allows you to outsource these technical expenses to the CDN provider. All you are responsible for is a simple, usually monthly fee. It’s predictable, plus you can depend on the CDN provider to be responsible for updates, security, and all the rest. They gain economies of scale and thus can provide very affordable services to you.
This reduces costs and complexity of maintaining a streaming operation greatly. This is a very important reason to use a live video CDN.
3. Security plus redundancy
Security firms are measuring an increase in piracy, hacking, and other digital attacks every year. Using a CDN provides you with a greater level of protection against these issues. That’s because CDN providers have dedicated teams of technical professionals working on security issues.
By centralizing security for hundreds of clients in-house, the CDN can afford to hire the best talent and build the most robust security tools around. CDNs are typically hardened against DDoS attacks, ransomware, MITM (Man-In-The-Middle) attacks, and more.
The costs of cybercrime could reach $6 trillion by the year 2021. Using a CDN can help you avoid being part of this statistic.
2. Scalability and availability
The second biggest benefit of using a live video CDN is increased scalability and availability. These networks have massive amounts of built-in bandwidth, allowing them to intelligently route requests and manage huge audiences.
A CDN allows you to serve video t0 10 viewers, or to 10 million. A massive audience can easily crash an in-house live streaming server (or even a small server farm). But a CDN network is built to handle massive loads every day, with ease.
This also has major implications for availability of content. CDNs use hot-swappable equipment and built-in redundancy to ensure content is always available. Maintenance and equipment failure and factored in automatically, so content is always available when and where it is desired.
This means that content is always ready to start playing at the drop of a hat. This is a critical factor, since, online videos with a start-up time exceeding even two seconds have significantly higher streaming video abandonment rates. Beyond this, each incremental second propels another 6% of viewers to leave. Yet another reason a live video CDN is essential.
1. Faster content loading and reduced buffering
The biggest and most important benefit of using a live video CDN is faster content loading and reduced buffering. In 2017, 63 percent of live stream viewers said buffering issues were the most serious issue they experience. That number is actually an increase from the previous year.
Using a CDN can mostly avoid this issue. How? A CDN eliminates bottlenecks upstream. This maximizes video quality for all viewers and reduces buffering problems. It may also allow viewers to view the highest possible video quality. And quality is important. One survey showed that 62 percent of viewers are likely to view a brand more negatively if they publish a poor quality video.
A powerful live video CDN helps you deliver content fast, minimize buffering, and get the best possible video quality in front of your audience. This is our final reason why using a CDN for your streaming video is essential.
Best live video CDN for streaming
Now we know why to use a CDN. But which CDN is best for live streaming? There are dozens of CDN providers on the market today. A few of the most popular are Akamai, Azure, Cloudfront, and Fastly. Some other CDN providers don’t support live streaming at all (CloudFlare, for example), so you won’t want to review those options.
When comparing live video CDN solutions, I recommend you look at a few main elements:
- Does the service support live streaming and VOD hosting?
- Is the pricing expensive or overly complex?
- How big is the network?
- Does the live video CDN provide PoP (Point-of-Presence) locations in areas where you have a large video audience?
- Is there an easy to gain access to the service without complex technical configuration and confusing billing?
When assessing these factors during a live video CDN comparison, it quickly becomes evident that one CDN stands above the rest: Akamai. Specifically, Akamai fulfills all of the above requirements when you access it via DaCast’s streaming solutions. We offer a free trial of this system—just read on to learn more.
Hopefully, this article has helped introduce you to the benefits of using a live video CDN. Additionally, we hope it has helped you to understand the CDN market. We’ve covered this topic in detail in previous live video CDN blog posts.
If you’re looking for an online video platform that integrates the largest and best live video CDN, look no further than DaCast. We partner with Akamai for delivery of all live streams and VOD content. Plus, we offer a wide variety of video organization, monetization, security, and marketing features.
We also offer a 30-day free trial of DaCast services—no credit card required. Click here to try it out:
Thanks for reading, and best of luck with your live streams! For more tips and live streaming news, check out our LinkedIn group.