Delivering the Next
Generation of Online Video:
What to Expect in 2018
We have seen significant changes in the way large live
event video coverage is delivered to audiences, as well as
to the landscape of video-on-demand (VOD) OTT services.
There are unique challenges to each, most importantly
the business models each operates under. What they share
in common is the challenge of content monetization.
Announcements about business partnerships, acquisitions,
and new services have been pervasive throughout 2017 and
will certainly continue in 2018. Let’s look at the business
environment around both live and VOD, and then show how
today’s content delivery networks (CDNs) solve the challenge
of delivering online video and provide the capabilities to
deliver the next generation of services.
LIVE STREAMING LARGE EVENTS
Over the past year, live streaming of major sporting events
has taken off, and audiences seem to love it. 1. 7 million
viewers opted for a streaming delivery of the NFL Super
Bowl, and the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February
should see continued growth in online viewing with NBC
Olympics live streaming 1,800 hours of game coverage.
Why have sports leagues and TV broadcasters embraced
streaming so enthusiastically? Simple—more viewers
bring in more revenue. Live streaming simulcast with the
broadcast is adding millions of additional viewers.
What about from the perspective of fans? Time-tested
game-time rituals and traditions persist—gathering to watch
games on large high-definition TVs in living rooms and
bars with friends and family. Viewers currently approach
live sports streaming on a mobile device or laptop as an
alternative if there is no access to a TV broadcast, and not
just for NFL games or the Olympics. On a wider, global scale,
soccer has approximately 3. 5 billion fans worldwide, and
watching matches online is growing in popularity as well.
But beyond being an alternative to TV broadcasts, live
sports streaming is another enabler of cord cutting, which
continues to gain traction with consumers looking to cut
the metaphorical ties to cable giants in favor of greater
selection of content and cost savings. But if we are to see live
sports operating in the same fashion as a Netflix or Hulu
OTT service to enable a complete cutting of the cord, the live
streams will have to provide the same quality of experience
as TV broadcasts.
THE WORLD OF VOD
Online video viewing continues to grow, both in the
average viewing hours, which is now at almost 6 hours per
week according to Limelight’s 2017 State of Online Video
report ( go2sm.com/stateofov17), and in the number of OT T
services worldwide, which is now in the thousands. The
devices used for online viewing cover the spectrum from
smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and laptops to dedicated
This situation presents challenges to OT T providers who
need to support all the various viewing devices and their
video formats in order to reach as many viewers as possible.
In addition, viewer expectations continue to rise, with 61
percent of viewers abandoning a video after it rebuffers a
second time. With viewers having so many OTT services
to choose from, content distributors need to find a way to
differentiate their services by offering compelling content
on any device with broadcast-quality, buffer-free playback.