By Peter Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer
To deliver the quality entertainment experience that consumers now expect for live video across all platforms and devices, content providers must address a variety of challenges.
Content providers must ensure that live streams of breaking news, sports and entertainment are not compromised by startup failures, buffering or poor video quality. Viewers simply won't tolerate it. They must bring production value up to a standard typical of live event broadcasts and offer greater interactivity, allowing viewers to shape their own experiences by choosing from additional content and varying camera angles.
All of these elements make for compelling live content, but they do require some behind-the-scenes technical and operational work.
For a start, content must be presented quickly and at a high quality, even in the face of rapid and immense fluctuations in audience. However, even when the technology supporting live streaming can scale to handle massive numbers of simultaneous requests, as our Uplynk Video Streaming service and Edgecast Content Delivery Network do, challenges remain.
Sending out production crews, setting up signal acquisition, overseeing logistics and allocating resources to deliver a live program with high production value can be both expensive and difficult. The unpredictable nature of live events can throw a few curve balls that can diminish the viewing experience, if not handled appropriately. The team on the ground has just one chance to get the live event right. They must be ready to capture a conventional primary feed and the interesting angles and behind-the-scenes views that add value and foster one-on-one engagement. At the same time, the team must have the tools to seamlessly and unobtrusively insert alternate feeds or promotional material into live action.
Given these challenges, some of the world's largest sports networks rely on partners to manage both the on-site production environment and their live streams, particularly when producing numerous live events simultaneously. Because it eliminates the need to invest in additional infrastructure and to cart equipment from site to site, this approach offers both convenience and — for content producers that are still new to live event streaming — a low-risk way to get into the game.
To build an audience and monetize contracts and live content effectively, content producers must do more than simply stream live events. A compelling TV-like viewing experience can only be created by a team that enjoys robust and flexible technology, strong operational capabilities and powerful monetization tools.
In this day and age, no live stream has drawn as many viewers as a network broadcast yet. Nevertheless, audiences for live streaming content continue to grow. And, when content producers use the latest technology and tools for smooth delivery of live content that's unavailable on broadcast television, they have the opportunity to meet demand for niche content and create a valuable connection with a new community of viewers.