Over-the-top (OTT) services are becoming increasingly indispensable in today’s broadband access networks, and now offer premium content such as high-definition, full-feature movies and live video as opposed to the shorter-duration, lower-quality videos of the past. For this reason, content providers, broadcasters and operators are presently gearing up to deploy multiscreen video (commonly referred to as TV Everywhere) to deliver streaming video services to PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets, TVs and more.
However, the process of streaming to such a wide range of devices is complex and brings with it numerous challenges. For one, each type of device has its own unique set of demands. In addition, OTT video uses different protocols and delivery techniques than traditional Internet protocol (IP) streaming video, thereby posing significant challenges to maintaining expected service quality standards. Indeed, the underlying technology used with multiscreen video and OTT services is adaptive bit-rate (ABR) streaming, whereby content is segmented into small, compressed fragments for transmission to viewing devices. However, this technology is not standardized in the same way as the digital video broadcast (DVB) transport streams used in traditional TV applications. This in turn means that the methods needed to detect and troubleshoot service degradations are vastly different from those traditionally used for services such as DVB, IPTV and video on demand (VoD). The availability of several ABR implementations, (from Apple’s HTTP live streaming to Microsoft’s HTTP smooth streaming, Adobe’s HTTP dynamic streaming and others still) is part of this complexity, and as a result, one of the greatest technical challenges to offering OTT video lies in assuring quality of experience (QoE) and quality of service (QoS).
To maintain quality control without compromising customer experience, service providers need to ensure the consistency of end-user experience across multiple service offerings, along with seamless integration and alignment between new technologies and existing infrastructures. Fortunately, various video quality assurance solutions are available to support premium service-level performance monitoring and analysis in the OTT and multiscreen service environment.
To find out more, read our application note devoted to OTT video assurance.