Streaming video is growing rapidly and continues to take a bite out of traditional pay-TV services, which could lose another 25 million subscribers by 2025. Many of those consumers will surely get their content from streaming video platforms (if they aren’t already), increasing their user base.
With Netflix at 208 million subscribers, Disney+ at 103 million, and Hulu at 41 million, streaming is on its way to becoming a trillion-dollar industry. One estimate indicates that the sector could eclipse $800 billion by 2027.
While content is king when it comes to getting people in the door, it’s the overall experience – driven by technology that delivers outstanding, high-end streaming across all devices – that determines how long they stay. This technology will be especially important as the cord-cutters switch from cable to streaming video.
They’ll expect a level of service that will not be possible without it.
Let’s look at what back-end technology has already achieved and what its innovations mean for the industry.
SMPTE 2110 modernizes traditional broadcasters with new digital workflows
SMPTE ST 2110 is the latest set of standards from the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. Designed to bring broadcast content – one of the oldest and most well-established methods of distributing and consuming entertainment – into the modern era of streaming, the SMPTE standard is an important step forward. Broadcast providers are eager to catch up to the industry’s over-the-top (OTT) stalwarts, and now they can.
The most recent adjustments allow for greater flexibility compared to serial digital interface (SDI) connectivity by specifying how to deliver compressed and uncompressed video and audio streams (among many other improvements).
This will allow broadcast content providers – once the de-facto format for television – to compete more readily with the leading streaming video platforms. It also means that consumers will have additional choices in their content selection, offering more options than ever before.
From start to finish, DAI creates a smooth experience
Advertising is a key source of revenue for many video-on-demand (VoD) platforms, not just those available to watch for free. Hulu, for example, earned nearly $1.5 billion in ad revenue in 2018 alone and is estimated to generate $2.7 billion in 2021. That growth would not have been possible without Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI).
While the technology is not new, advancements in latency and customization capabilities have allowed streaming services to seamlessly insert ads without any technical issues that could hinder the viewing experience.
Those innovations can be attributed to the artificial intelligence (AI) built into each part of the DAI workflow. And by using consumer information more efficiently, the latest DAI enhancements allow streaming content providers to deliver ads that are relevant to both the viewer and the content the viewer chooses to watch.
CAD optimizes the user experience
OTT services also benefit from the development of Context Adaptive Content Delivery Workflows (commonly known as CAD) that employ multiple methodologies to produce an optimal end-user experience. Adaptive Bitrate Ladder (ABR), which compresses (encodes) and delivers content at the ideal resolution at a given bitrate expenditure, is the most well-known method.
But the true streaming innovations are coming from various technologies that apply ABR throughout their workflows, such as future codecs like AV1, HEVC, and VVC. Better still, Cloud-Based Per-Title Encoding makes it possible to provide viewers with top-notch streaming quality while reducing the costs of storing and streaming content.
Dolby unites audio depth with rich and vibrant visuals
Dolby is synonymous with surround sound, providing the best and most immersive audio experience to movie theaters worldwide. The company’s innovations do not end there, however. Dolby Atmos uses superior audio depth and spatial metadata to take the aural bliss even further.
The company has also developed Dolby Vision, providing the features – such as high dynamic range (HDR) – necessary for rich and vibrant visuals.
Entertainment without limitations
With new standards like SMPTE ST 2110 and evolutions within Dynamic Ad Insertion, OTT providers have more opportunities to shine than ever before. They have many back-end technologies, including Dolby Vision and Cloud-Based Per-Title Encoding, to provide the high-end, hiccup-free experience that consumers demand.
Instead of streaming in the stone age – or at the very least limiting consumers with a mishmash of quality that varies per service – it is now possible for all streaming platforms to deliver prestige results.
This is as exciting for consumers as it is for the hardworking content developers, who are now free to deploy their entertainment without any technological limitations.