Streaming is ubiquitous. To capture and retain audiences, providers are investing heavily in original content and sports rights and looking for a technology partner that has the capabilities to package content uniquely and distribute it to more endpoints at scale. Whether it's a niche interest in history or a big sports game, there is probably a streaming service that will deliver viewers what they want to watch when they want to watch it, a far cry from what streaming services were merely five or ten years ago. The evolution of streaming has come full circle, from being complimentary to traditional TV to providing a superior viewing experience than broadcast. In many ways, broadcast TV is becoming inferior to streaming with advances in streaming technology, such as 4K, plus features that mimic traditional TV with free ad-supported television (i.e., FAST channels) and the ability to personalize those streams to each viewer.
With more choices to attract audiences, streaming has become a more accessible and cheaper option than TV. And as viewer preferences continue to change and shape the industry, providers will need to offer services that their viewers demand. For example, the peak of subscription fatigue drove viewers to seek alternative options that fit their needs and budgets, such as FAST channels. These channels not only offer viewers a new, lean-back way of watching their favorite shows for free, but the rise in demand also generates additional ad inventory, increasing advertising revenues for the publisher. nScreen Media predicts average CPM rates will rise from $10 to $15 in 2023 due to the popularity of FAST, with fill rates increasing to 70%. To attract advertisers and obtain higher CPMs, streaming providers must ensure viewers don’t abandon their service due to unreliable, poor-quality streams, which would deplete their available inventory.
The key to a successful streaming service is choosing reliable technology, which must be fault tolerant and always available. An outage or failure of a critical feature from ad insertion to the CDN can be catastrophic to a content owner’s business on any given day, which is even more amplified when streaming a significant live event. As streaming audiences grow and evolve, streaming providers must work with a technology partner that can also scale their streaming operations without degrading the viewing experience with buffering or ad slate. Operational scale is critical, especially when limited in resources. We’ve identified four essential components to ensure your streaming business can scale.
There are several vital components to compete in the streaming industry. You should consider the following elements when building out your streaming ecosystem:
As competition for audience share grows, streaming providers increasingly need to make a personal connection with their viewers to keep them watching and coming back for more. In some instances, creating manifests for groups of viewers is sufficient, but in most cases, personalization is crucial, as no two viewers are the same. Even though they may be tuning into the same content, they’re likely in different locations, using different devices, experiencing different network conditions, having different interests, viewing behaviors, and more. The ability to dynamically change or customize the manifest for each viewer opens up numerous opportunities to tailor the experience, including personalized content and ads, time shifting, blackout rules, content replacement, content protection, as well as optimizing the viewer experience with refinement tools and comprehensive data for monitoring and troubleshooting.
Today, everyone is talking about FAST channels. But in truth, the concept has been around for years: it is TV. Since streaming took off, it has gone full circle from being heavily subscription-based to subscriptions with "light" ads, aka "skinny bundles," to FAST channels. Viewers don’t want to be locked into contracts, like cable TV, and don’t want to take out a raft of monthly subscriptions to get the shows they want to watch. So streaming via FAST has become TV all over again, with some differences: it’s personalized, completely free, and doesn’t require a technician to set up the service. Look for a technology provider that has capabilities for a highly efficient, automated way of creating and distributing FAST channels, with the ability to schedule live and VOD content with ad insertion, and be able to extend your audience reach to multiple endpoints, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Twitch, as well as vMVPD and OTT platforms.
A typical streaming workflow consists of multiple vendors – piecing all the parts together, ensuring they work in unison, and the maintenance and troubleshooting are critical for success. APIs are key to automating workflows, allowing businesses to integrate with vendors and partners across their streaming ecosystem and scale operations. Choose a technology partner that enables you to operate innovative video experiences with flexible APIs that introduce automation and consistency to your workflows.
Building and maintaining your streaming ecosystem is time-consuming, expensive, and requires enormous 24/7 resources. Your technology provider should be equipped with rich in-house video streaming resources and expertise with the flexibility that allows you to scale up and down as needed. For example, the pressure is on when it comes to supporting live events, which add a new layer of complexity to streaming as audiences scale up quickly, often to millions of concurrent viewers watching across multiple devices and geographies. A missed moment in a sports game because of a technical glitch will infuriate the fans at the heart of your business. Select a partner that offers managed services like onboarding, preparation, acquisition, and live-event and post-event services, as well as an experienced professional services team to develop custom solutions.
Edgio has been working with the world’s largest broadcasters and content owners for over a decade to understand their pain points, workflows, and business requirements. We built a platform that orchestrates thousands of decisions per second for every viewer to deliver high-quality and ultra-personalized streams. We are a reliable technology partner that allows you to scale operationally with only a fraction of the resources.
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