This blog is the second in a four part series describing the use cases and business benefits of the Media and Broadcasting Solution phases. Focused on converting content into all required formats for consumption on TVs, tablets, smartphones, laptops, game consoles and more, subsequent blogs will cover video delivery, and playback.
You’ve created compelling live or on-demand video content, and now you want to publish it to your audience. You are well aware of some of the challenges inherent in trying to reach viewers whose expectations are for broadcast quality video on any device, anywhere, anytime. How do I support the growing proliferation of mobile screens and multiple video streaming formats? Sounds like a complex workflow with lots of manual processes will be required to do this.
Happily, Limelight has conversion workflow in our CDN with massive computational resources to turn your content into the required formats on the fly, and you don’t need to pre-transcode your content.
Limelight has a unified video Live and On-demand workflow with multiple bit rate outputs for HLS, HDS, MSS, DASH, HTTP, and RTMP. Let’s take a look at these formats and what devices support them:
- HLS stands for HTTP Live Streaming and is Apple’s proprietary streaming format based on MPEG2-TS. It’s popular since it provides the only way to deliver advanced streaming to iOS devices. It often mistakenly gets defined as HTML5 streaming, but is not part of HTML5. This is currently the most popular mobile format. It is also supported by all Android devices as well.
- HDS stands for HTTP Dynamic Streaming and is Adobe’s format to deliver fragmented mp4 files (fMP4). HDS allows for adaptive streaming over HTTP to any device that’s compatible with Adobe Flash or Air. Because of the high market penetration that Flash Player has, HDS is a great choice for streaming to desktop computers. However, the Flash Player is not supported by Android and iOS which makes HDS unsuitable for broadcasting to mobile devices.
- MSS stands for Microsoft Smooth Streaming. It is supported by Silverlight, Xbox, Windows Phone, Windows 8, and some TV set-top boxes.
- MPEG DASH is an industry forum effort to create a standard HTTP chunked video format. The situation in that HLS, HDS, and MSS are 80% the same, but 100% incompatible. At this point in time MPEG DASH is gaining strong traction in the OTT VOD space with Netflex, Hulu, YouTube and others using it. Will DASH become the most popular standard someday? Hard to tell at this point. There remains strong support for HLS. If I had to make a prediction, in the long run it seems we may get down to two standards – HLS and DASH.
So, given that for the time being support of multiple video formats will be required, the use of cloud-based services such as the Limelight CDN is a great option for handling video conversion. The key workflow components included in the Media and Broadcasters Solution are:
- Transcoding - On-the-fly conversion from Live or On-demand MP4 into multiple formats including HLS, HDS, MSS, and MPEG-DASH (on-demand only currently). VOD content will start to publish even before the whole file is converted.
- DRM – For content security and protection
- Ads – Integration of ads into VOD and Live feeds. Support for your ad server and linear video ads (pre, post, and mid-roll), VAST 3.0 and VPAID
- Closed Captioning – Insertion of CC into video streams
- Cache – Intelligent cache control and content purging
There are solid business benefits for leveraging a CDN to handle video distribution. These include a simplified video workflow and cloud infrastructure, zero time to publish your VOD content, and automatic ad insertion and closed captioning.
More details about the Limelight Orchestrate for Media and Broadcasters are available here.