Is Australia’s Internet Infrastructure Up for the Video Challenge?

We all know Australians are hungry for video content, and publishers and brands have not disappointed, publishing endless streams of content to feed our insatiable appetite. In fact, Australians spent a fifth of their digital entertainment time watching streamed video content (Deloitte Media Consumer Survey 2018). But if we continue consuming video at this pace, our internet infrastructure will struggle to keep up with demand. For consumers, it will mean more buffering and sluggish starts when watching video content online. And for the content owners themselves, it could have a direct impact on revenue and audience share as Aussies tune out to find a better viewing experience.

In fact, a recent Finder survey found that almost half of Australian respondents experienced connection or streaming issues while watching content online in the last year.

The truth is, despite upgrades to the country’s internet infrastructure, these issues will only worsen as new OTT providers like Apple and Disney enter the market, and cord cutting rises, placing even more demand on our internet’s bandwidth.

Now is the time for content owners and publishers to act.

Beauty and the beast

The age-old challenge with video is the size of on-demand files, and the subsequent bandwidth required to deliver content to end users. With increasing video consumption and an overburdened internet infrastructure, it’s no surprise that almost half of us are experiencing viewing issues when watching content online.

Good news is, there is new technology that content owners and publishers can implement to alleviate these internet woes. And it starts with video encoding.

Rethinking encoding

We’re all familiar with video encoding – the process of converting a video into a digital format compatible with web players and mobile devices. But the problem with traditional approaches is that you are encoding an entire content library based on an ‘average’ profile, rather than considering the broader context of the video experience. Not all video is the same – the content of a sports video versus current affairs programming, is vastly different (think scene to scene motion), so encoding every video in the same way is simply ineffective and only adding to our bandwidth woes.

We need to take a more tailored approach that considers the content of a video.

Being content aware

Content-aware or context-aware encoding is an alternate technique that takes a per-title or per-scene approach to encoding videos. Algorithms are used to analyse the video content itself, creating a custom profile tailored to the combination of each individual video content’s complexity and predicted viewing environment – for example, analysing content on the premise of being watched on a fixed network or wi-fi, mobile devices, or smart TVs. Simultaneously, this process reduces video files to the fewest bits necessary meaning it requires less bandwidth to store, download and stream content without jeopardising the video quality. Herein lies the power for content owners and publishers.

By reducing the size of on-demand files, you’re reducing the bandwidth required to deliver content to end users, answering the age-old video challenge.

As a by-product of fewer and smaller renditions, video storage and delivery costs for publishers and content owners are also significantly reduced – a massive win for media companies tasked with growing content libraries, while budgets continue to shrink.

New horizons

We know consumer demand for video content will only continue to rise. The real question is whether our internet infrastructure will weather the storm as we demand more bandwidth.

Content and publishers need to act now, leveraging the latest encoding solutions, which will effectively reduce the burden on our internet infrastructure, and enable better viewing experiences for Australians. There is no silver bullet, but taking a context-aware approach to encoding is a step in the right direction that can benefit us all.

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