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Adaptive Bitrate Streaming: Why is it important for Video Streaming?

22.02

User experience is crucial for any broadcaster as viewers don’t like to deal with a poor video stream. And it’s a fact that you will lose out on viewerships with users abandoning poor quality content streams within 30 seconds. All it takes is one bad video stream for negative impact on subscriber growth.

Viewers stream video/audio content on devices connected to home or mobile internet connections which keep fluctuating. These devices also happen to have varying playback ability and processing power. Thus, the streaming experience of viewers gets affected.

This is why as a OTT platform owner or broadcaster, you need to consider adaptive bitrate streaming workflow to ensure optimum, uninterrupted streaming delivered to your viewers.

In this guide, we will take you through adaptive bitrate streaming and how important it is for video streaming.

What is Adaptive Bitrate Streaming?

Adaptive bitrate streaming, often abbreviated as ABR, denotes the capability of a video player to adjust the video quality dynamically as per the available network conditions, bandwidth, and viewer’s device performance. Overall, adaptive bitrate streaming enables seamless switching of content quality that is not supported by progressive video playback.

How does adaptive bitrate streaming resolved issues that otherwise are created in progressive streaming?

Before understanding this, first let’s understand what progressive streaming actually is.

Progressive Streaming

In case of progressive streaming, a video file is streamed mostly in .mp4 format even when other video formats can be used. This file can be compressed and stretched as per  screen size of different devices.

As the size of the file remains unchanged, the video quality gets affected during content playback on a device screen that has lower or higher resolution. To make it simpler, a video of 720 x 480px will pixelate when streamed on a screen of 1280 x 740px resolution. 

Secondly, the issue with progressive streaming is buffering, i.e. video/audio playback pausing while streaming. This usually happens when the viewer has unstable internet connection. The downloading speed of the video stream is not fast enough, causing the video to pause unless more data is fetched to continue further streaming. 

This leads to a bad streaming experience subsequently leading to churn.

Now let’s discuss the role of adaptive bitrate streaming in delivering uninterrupted streaming experience.

Role of adaptive bitrate streaming

The key role of ABR is enhancing streaming experience. Streaming service owners can offer their viewers the highest video and audio quality without letting buffering and other interruptions affect the stream quality.

Adaptive bitrate streaming  also offers faster video playback. As ABR streams start with lower bitrate till the algorithm selected estimates the buffering occupancy or bandwidth capacity, the video or audio is able to playback instantly. This denotes that streaming service owners need not worry about losing out audiences due to slower content loading times.

Adaptive bitrate streaming also happens to boost the viewing experience on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. In the recent past, low device processing power and limitations of data plans made video streaming quite a challenge for video streaming service providers. Adaptive bitrate streaming ensures viewers using mobile devices to watch content without experiencing buffering issues despite such potential limitations.

As ABR  utilizes HTTP for content delivery, it is compatible to work with most CDNs and web servers. This means that it is more cost effective than keeping persistent connections or deploying specialized servers. Thuis, using adaptive bitrate streaming can be a cheaper way to deliver audio and video content while providing an optimum quality streaming experience.

Moreover, when a viewer has a poor video streaming experience on your OTT platform, the probability of them abandoning your service and viewing your brand negatively is high. This poses a long term impact that affects your opportunity for promotions and monetizations, certainly a thing that you don’t want for your streaming service. 

Wrapping up!

All that matters to viewers is uninterrupted, high quality video streaming with a unique content collection. And the essential factor for broadcasters to deliver uninterrupted streaming experience cannot be possible without adaptive bitrate streaming.

With a complete OTT platform, MultiTV provides a completely customizable online video player packed with robust features including adaptive bitrate streaming capability that delivers unparalleled video streaming experience for viewers across the globe.

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