Importance of Video Quality Monitoring in OTT Streaming Services
By Ali Hodjat, Director of Product Marketing, Telestream iQ
Did you know that nearly 2 billion people use Over-the-Top (OTT) streaming services? These streaming services must meet the demands of consumers across any device, anytime, anywhere, and with the highest quality. Consumers do not care how content gets delivered to them, but they do expect a certain level of quality and performance, or they will quickly move on to other streaming services. A survey found that 86% of the viewers say it is extremely important to receive a TV-like quality of experience when watching OTT streaming services.
In today’s competitive OTT streaming market, offering high-quality video on every screen is critical, but also it is extremely complex. With Adaptive BitRate (ABR) streaming, there is minimal or no control over the delivery within Content Delivery Network (CDN), through the Access network, and across the last mile. With multiple stakeholders involved in the delivery chain (CDNs, Mobile Service Providers, ISPs, etc.) the lack of control makes identifying and resolving issues incredibly challenging.
So, how can OTT streaming service providers accomplish this objective to deliver high-quality content?
OTT video quality monitoring helps businesses assess the quality and performance of their streaming services. You may be wondering what OTT video quality monitoring is or why it is important. Keep reading to learn more about it and how you can use it to improve the quality of experience for your subscribers.
What is OTT Video Quality Monitoring?
Over-the-top (OTT) Video Quality Monitoring is a strategy to ensure consumers have access to and can play your streaming services, anytime and anywhere with the best viewing experience. This strategy involves gathering metrics and data from all key areas in the video delivery chain and correlating it into actionable and meaningful information which results in faster time to resolve issues and more intelligent business decision-making.
Implementing a strong OTT Video Quality Monitoring strategy provides the key success factor for OTT streaming service providers to deliver a high-quality experience.
Importance of OTT quality video monitoring
February 2020 edition of the Nielsen Total Audience Report highlights the importance of streaming and playback quality when it comes to the video streaming attributes. It showed that 77% of the survey audience rated streaming/playback quality extremely important.
With so many competing streaming services to choose from, viewers have an incredibly low tolerance for video quality shortcomings. Delivering Live and VOD content over an unmanaged network presents plenty of obstacles. According to Akamai’s report, as many as 50% of viewers will abandon a stream if it takes more than 5 seconds to load. 76% of viewers were also found to leave a service if their stream buffered several times. It is critical to ensure your content is available for viewers and the streaming performance will deliver a high-quality viewing experience.
Having an OTT Video Quality Monitoring strategy is especially important in helping to reduce churn, create competitive differentiation, and improve brand loyalty. It helps ensure viewers’ quality expectations are met and provides visibility into the health status of OTT streaming services across multi-vendor environments.
How to create an OTT Video Quality Monitoring strategy
In the multi-vendor ABR streaming environment, errors can occur at any point in the workflow. When developing an OTT video Quality Monitoring strategy, OTT service providers need to consider what part of the streaming workflow they manage and where they can get access to the unmanaged portions of the workflow. The first step is assessing all transition points from content creation to processing, encoding, packaging, and delivery to the subscribers through origin servers and CDNs.
Although live and VOD streaming services leverage different end-to-end workflows, there are several transition points that are common in both types of services and should be considered when creating a video quality monitoring strategy. Some of these video transition points include:
- Content ingests from source contribution feed
- Video output from encoders and transcoders
- After ABR packaging and during ingest to the origin servers
- Delivery of ABR content for every bitrate to the CDN
- Output of the CDN for every resolution and bitrate for HLS and DASH content
- Dynamic ad insertion workflow and transition points
Once all transition points are defined, it is time to find a solution for monitoring the workflow for a successful OTT streaming service. It is also critical to think about all Quality of Experience (QoE) and Quality of Service (QoS) metrics that should be monitored in real-time, and how to correlate and aggregate data from different monitoring points of the video delivery chain on a single pane of glass and dashboard.
What should you monitor in your OTT streaming service?
A major step towards selecting an OTT video quality monitoring solution is to determine what QoE and QoS metrics should be covered at each transition point. Also, what methodology to be used and what kind of measurement tools should be used to ensure transparency and consistency in measuring video quality and performance. There are three primary areas that a successful video quality monitoring solution needs to cover.
1. Quality of Content
Ensuring that viewers enjoy a consistent, high-quality experience without interruptions is another primary focus for an OTT video quality monitoring strategy. OTT streaming services need to ensure the content, video, and audio has no visual impairments. This requires monitoring the quality of experience (QoE) from source contribution feed to encoders and packagers and then ingest and delivery to the subscribers from the CDN.
2. Delivery Performance
Making sure that the content is being delivered to the viewers without any issues is equally important. OTT services need to measure the quality and performance of the delivery of ABR streaming content as different bitrates transition from packagers to origin servers and CDNs before final delivery to the subscribers.
3. Content Availability
Ensuring subscribers’ accessibility and availability of both live and VOD streaming content across many regional locations is critical in delivering a successful OTT streaming service.
Moreover, it is critical to monitor different steps of dynamic ad insertion workflows and compliance-related requirements such as audio loudness and closed caption insertion, because at each of these transition points there is still a chance of altering the content and impacting the quality of experience (QoE) or quality of service (QoS).
Benefits of an Automated OTT Video Quality Monitoring Solution
A successful OTT video Quality Monitoring solution will enable service providers to monitor all the transition points in the workflow, raise alarms, report streaming status, and notify on issues that occur. This helps to identify video quality issues and their root causes, to quickly resolve them before the end customers get affected.
There are automated tools that help the service providers to keep track of their video delivery and network activity. These tools provide real-time data and insights into different metrics related to the quality of streams in the OTT streaming services. These automated OTT video quality monitoring tools provide the benefit of real-time or historical analytics and reporting. They also provide an insight into how to improve the experience of the streaming service which helps reduce subscriber churn and increase revenue.
At Telestream iQ, we have the expertise you need to help any service provider with their OTT video quality monitoring needs. Our expertise ranges from monitoring QoE of source contribution link, to post encoding and packaging, distribution of OTT streaming from origins and CDNs, and Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) monitoring. We hope you will allow us to help you with your video monitoring needs.
Interested in learning more? Contact us to discuss our video quality monitoring and analytics services.