Online video is booming. Starting in 2015, young millennials (ages 14-25) began watching more video on digital devices than on television. This has major implications for media businesses. The video streaming market is predicted to be worth $70.5 billion by 2021. Live streaming is making up the majority of that growth. This blog will look at issues around internet speed for streaming.
Specifically, this blog will focus on the issue of stream quality. How can a professional maximize the quality when streaming live video or hosing video?
How to provide a superior streaming experience
Live streaming can support any type of business. Here at Dacast, our customers use live video for marketing, education and e-learning, sports, business conferences, product launches, training, and much more.
But live streaming won’t help you if your viewers are having quality issues. We can help you avoid these problems. In this blog, we’re going to look at six methods for ensuring maximum quality when you’re live streaming. These methods are:
- Ensuring the viewer has fast internet speed for streaming
- Ensuring you (the broadcaster) has fast internet speed for streaming
- Using a powerful CDN for delivery
- Using a dynamic, adaptive video player
- Choosing a low latency streaming solution
- Choosing a video platform with 24/7 support
Let’s dive into these options now.
1. What is the viewer’s required internet speed for streaming?
Sixty-three percent of live stream viewers in 2017 cited buffering issues as the most serious issue they experience. That number is actually an increase from the previous year.
However, 2018 seems to have reversed this trend. 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.
One of the reasons for this is the gradually increasing speed of internet connections. Both mobile networks and home internet service is increasing in speed. The speed of an internet connection is measured using two numbers: download, and upload. When watching streaming video, the number that matters is download. Today, the average download speed in the United States is around 19 Mbps. You can test your speed using a service like testmy.net.
Here are some general guidelines for internet speed and streaming video:
- 25 Mbps (average cable internet): sufficient for streaming 1080p HD video
- 10 Mbps (average 4G LTE connection): sufficient for 720p video
- 5 Mbps (average DSL connection): sufficient for 480p video
As a broadcaster, you can’t control the internet speed of your viewers. However, you can watch your analytics data to figure out the speed of your viewer’s connection. This can allow you to modify your multi-bitrate streaming approach.
2. Broadcaster guide: internet speed for streaming
So what about a broadcaster? What is the required internet speed for streaming live video?
When you’re a broadcaster, you need to pay attention to the second part of your internet connection speed: upload. In general, our recommendation here at Dacast is that your upload speed should be at least double the total bandwidth you require.
You can measure your upload speed using testmy.net. Make sure you’re testing upload speed, not download. We also recommend conducting several tests over time, then averaging them to get a reliable result.
How much bandwidth do you require? It’s simple: just sum all the bitrates you’re streaming in to get a final number. If you’re only streaming in a single bitrate, there’s your final number. If you’re streaming in multiple bitrates, add them all together. For example, if you’re streaming in the following quality levels:
- 1080p resolution stream @ 5.5 Mbps
- 720p resolution stream @ 2.2 Mbps
- 480p resolution stream @ 800 kbps
- 240p resolution stream @ 500 kbps
In this example, your total bitrate is 9 Mbps. Therefore, we recommend you have a sustained upload speed of at least 18 Mbps. This will ensure you have a good quality stream and don’t experience any buffering issues.
3. Powerful CDN
The third important factor for ensuring a high-quality video stream is to use a powerful CDN. A CDN, or Content Delivery Network, is essential for delivering video to end-users in the modern environment.
CDN’s use load-balancing software and global server networks to distribute content fast. A modern, high-end CDN handles massive quantities of data every day. They deliver downloads, videos, images, and other intensive files to viewers all around the world.
For live video, distribution via a large and fast CDN is essential to reduce buffering problems, lag, and geographic slowdowns. Here at Dacast, we partner with the Akamai CDN—the largest and fastest in the world. Akamai is the original CDN and remains an industry pioneer, testing and releasing new features and expanding its network regularly.
4. Dynamic adaptive video player
The next element in ensuring a high-quality live video stream is a dynamic adaptive video player. This is just as important as having sufficient internet speed for streaming.
A dynamic adaptive video player is built to deliver the correct video quality to each individual viewer. It will automatically detect the viewer’s internet connection speed and quality. Based on this data, it will adjust the quality of the video it delivers in real-time.
Plus, a modern dynamic adaptive video player makes it easy to watch on any type of device. Smartphones are ubiquitous, and the use of internet-connected Smart TVs is rising rapidly. You want to be sure you can reach all these devices natively.
5. Low latency streaming solution
Latency refers to the delay between filming an event and it appearing on the viewer’s screen. In short, latency is bad. It distracts from real life and, when combined with increasingly popular “second-screen” use, can ruin a broadcast by spoiling the ending.
Modern solutions use the HLS protocol to deliver low latency live streams with less than 10 seconds of latency. “Protocols affect lag time tremendously” according to Streaming Media. Most live-streaming platforms don’t offer a solution to this issue.
But it’s a critical one to solve. Online videos with a start-up time exceeding even two seconds have significantly higher streaming video abandonment rates, with each incremental second propelling another 6% of viewers to jump ship. In-stream latency is just as bad. That’s why Dacast offers HLS Direct, low latency live streaming solution which reduces latency to 10 seconds or less and uses the widely compatible HLS protocol.
6. 24/7 support
The final key factor in delivering a high-quality live stream that we’ll cover here is customer support.
Streaming live video is a technical process. Having a trained professional to assist you with setup, configuration, and troubleshooting is essential. Since most streams happen later in the day, we also recommend using a video platform that offers 24/7 support.
You may also be interested in other professional services, such as help with setting up your live streaming website, building a mobile app, or offering technical support to the viewers themselves. Helping your viewers prevent internet reception problems, and resolve them when they arise, lets you ensure they have a good experience watching your videos. Professional services are available to Dacast users.
Following the six pieces of advice, we’ve outlined in this article will help ensure that you have a good quality live stream. There’s more to this process, of course, and for regular educational content, I recommend you follow the Dacast blog or have a look at our Knowledge Base.
The key element in making your live broadcasts happen is to choose an online video platform (OVP). And not just any OVP. We recommend an easy-to-use platform with strong documentation. That way, you can figure it all out on your own.
Dacast is an award-winning OVP that provides live streaming and video hosting services to countless businesses, organizations, and individuals. Plus, we have the most affordable pricing on the market.
If you’re looking for a video platform to host and stream your content, why not start today with Dacast’s 30-day free trial (no credit card required)? Just click the link below to start streaming today!
Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns about live streaming pricing or our streaming broadcast solutions in general? Let us know in the comments section, below! For exclusive offers and regular tips on live streaming, feel free to join our LinkedIn group.
Thanks for reading, and good luck with your live broadcasts!