Video Streaming with Instant Live Channel Provisioning

Video Streaming with Instant Live Channel Provisioning

Modern video is all about instant delivery. The rise of video streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon clearly shows that people prefer instant-access video. Digital screens are becoming the norm. According to one study, 77 percent of millennials would rather watch the Super Bowl via live stream than on TV.

For publishers, the ability to roll out live streams rapidly and reliably is essential. In this article, we’re going to take a look at video streaming with instant live channel provisioning, which is one of the benefits of using a top-tier Content Delivery Network (CDN). We’ll also discuss a few of the other benefits of using a large, powerful CDN for your content.

What is instant live channel provisioning?

To understand live channel provisioning, you have to understand how live streams work. Those who already have a grasp on live streaming can skip down a few paragraphs.

Most Online Video Platforms (OVPs) deliver live streams via “channels.” Multiple channels can even broadcast different live streams simultaneously. This is in contrast to consumer-grade platforms like Facebook or YouTube. These platforms only allow you to stream one feed at a given time.

Setting up a new live stream involves creating a new channel, connecting the streaming service to your video signal via an encoder, and then going live. You can turn the channel on whenever the stream is ready to go, then turn it off when finished.

When video streaming with instant live channel provisioning is critical

Video Streaming with Instant Live Channel Provisioning - fastThere are multiple scenarios in which getting a new live stream online rapidly is essential. For example, you may be streaming a breaking news event. Alternatively, maybe a schedule or venue change means that a previously booked live channel is not available at the new time.

These are just some common hypothetical scenarios that can put you in a real bind. In these situations, it’s essential that you can set up new channels and start streaming rapidly.

When working with a CDN, getting a new live channel up and running can be slow. It can take a few hours or even up to several days to provision a new live channel through a CDN. The bigger the CDN, the slower this process typically is. If you’re not already a customer, the process is even slower thanks to credit checks, contracts, and so on.

DaCast’s rapid live channel provisioning

You can avoid headaches like this with DaCast. Our platform works with Akamai, the largest CDN in the world. However, due to our unique market position, we can provide the benefits of a large CDN combined with speed. It’s possible to create a new live channel and begin quality streaming powered by Akamai almost immediately.

All of this takes place without paying setup fees or having to place an order for a channel to be provisioned.

Lower-quality CDNs make this process slower, especially for users outside of the US. Either your stream is being delivered by a small network, or new channels are provisioned slowly. Either way, it’s a double bind.

Content Delivery Networks and performance

Video Streaming with Instant Live Channel Provisioning - CDNLet’s take a step back and provide a brief overview of Content Delivery Networks, or CDNs. A CDN is a geographically-widespread network of computer servers. When connected to your systems, the CDN copies local assets (such as streaming video files) and sends copies to hundreds or thousands of different servers.

What happens next? Well, when hundreds, thousands, or even millions of users visit your website and attempt to view your live stream, you’re ready. Different users will be directed to servers close to their location, reducing the load on any one server. This ensures the highest possible performance for every user, and helps reduce problems like slow video start-up and frequent buffering.

With a high-end content delivery network like Akamai and DaCast, you can create a new live channel and begin streaming almost instantly. Users from around the world will be able to tune in to your broadcast in moments.

Edge servers and the end-to-end principle

The more servers you have in your CDN, the faster you can reach people in every location. This is known as Point of Presence, or PoP. The greater your PoP, the faster any given user can access your material.

The server located closest to the user is known as an “edge server.” The edge server is the final point in the chain; it delivers the video directly to the user. The greater number of edge servers in your network, the faster your connections will be.

This becomes especially important when it comes to large CDNs. For example, Akamai is the largest Content Delivery Network in the world with more than 216,000 servers globally. This allows Akamai to deliver content “end-to-end.” In other words, your video can flow directly from your encoder to an Akamai server, and through a network of Akamai servers to your users. The content is delivered via the same network “end-to-end.”

This is much faster than the alternative. If you use a small CDN (or don’t use one at all), then your content must be shuffled through countless different computer networks. ISPs, backbone internet providers, supplementary and regional providers, and other networks all get a piece of the pie. All of those transitions slow down transmission significantly.

Avoiding latency and buffering in live video streaming

Video Streaming with Instant Live Channel Provisioning - live streamingThere are two main types of slowdowns that occur during live video streaming.

The first is latency. Latency measures the time between when an event occurs and when the video stream of that event is viewed. Often, the latency of a live stream is in the range of 20-45 seconds. That’s the time it takes for the video to be captured by the camera, transmitted to the encoder, processed, sent across the internet via a CDN, and received by your computer.

In most cases, a little latency isn’t a big deal. However, in sports it can be a major problem. Latency is why you may see a tweet about a game-winning touchdown before it even happened on your live stream. Reducing latency is a technical issue that involves the entire technology stack. However, using a large CDN with end-to-end delivery can reduce latency significantly.

Buffering is when a video stream doesn’t play smoothly, but rather buffers content. This is also known as “stuttering.” There are three main causes of buffering. The first possibility is that your upload speed isn’t sufficient. Make sure to do the math before implementing a live stream. The next possibility is that you’re not using the right bitrate(s) for your stream. Finally, your viewer may not have enough internet speed to download the stream smoothly.

Optimizing content delivery involves considering these issues and what you can do to minimize their impact.

Global content access and hot backups

Major CDNs like Akamai optimize the paths between ingestion servers and edge servers. If there is an issue with your stream, they can automatically switch to a backup stream without the viewer noticing anything. This is known as a “hot backup.” Small CDNs do not have hot backups, or if they do they are not as reliable and fast as those that a larger network can provide.

Any time you stream video, you should consider the consequences of a stream failure and plan to mitigate such an issue. Using the DaCast and Akamai platform is one way to easily work around these potential hiccups.


Video streaming is complicated enough without having to worry about slow live channel provisioning. Here at DaCast, we work to remove this barrier to easy streaming so that you can get a feed up and running in no time.

In this article, we detailed instant live channel provisioning for speedy live streaming. Additionally, we’ve gone over the benefits of using a top tier CDN. Hopefully this article can teach you about how CDNs work and how instant live channel provisioning can be essential.

What do you think? Any questions or comments? Let us know! We love to hear from our audience. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your live streams!