Quality Control in OTT
This article argues that television broadcasters and content makers need to have their own OTT services, but also need to monitor streaming quality.
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OTT and streaming services are becoming increasingly popular: people watch videos on mobile devices and computers much more often. For instance, in the US, 86% of smartphone owners use their mobile devices to watch video content. Television broadcasters and content-makers do need to have their own OTT services; but, what is more, they should constantly monitor the quality of streaming and content in order to be competitive in an actively developing market.
Media Format Is Changeable
The traditional format for delivering video content, via cable or satellite TV, is linear. Viewers have to watch what is shown at that moment and use a device connected to a cable or dish. But viewers want to watch what they are interested in right now, using the device that is comfortable for them. OTT provides such an opportunity, and therefore, this format is becoming mainstream. Now, it is the viewer who dictates what they want to watch and when, while the content-makers try to offer the user a product that best suits their preferences.
What Is ОТТ?
OTT (Over-The-Top) is a way of providing video content at the user's request via the Internet. Usually, OTT is used for streaming movies, TV shows, sports, and other events. One of the most famous examples of OTT is YouTube. Amazon Prime, Netflix, and HBO are OTT services as well.
In order to provide a high-quality OTT service, companies need to use more sophisticated technologies than the conventional linear broadcasting used by cable TV. It is necessary to redirect content through the node units to the user's device, based on the network bandwidth. This is achieved by using adaptive bitrate (ABR) technology.
What Is ABR?
ABR technology allows the creation of several versions of a video, with different bitrates and profiles. Each video is segmented, and the segments are synchronized with each other. With continuous data transfer, the user receives video in the highest possible quality. If, for example, the Internet speed drops, an automatic switch to a lower quality takes place, so the broadcast keeps going without pauses.
The most popular ABR formats are:
HLS is a universal format suitable for Android and iOS smartphones, XBOX, and Win8 gadgets. It is much more convenient for a streaming service to choose one format for all devices than to combine several formats.
Quality Control and Monitoring Before Streaming
In order to provide a Video-on-Demand service of high quality, a company needs a one-stop solution for monitoring and control. You have got to check the quality of the original content - for this purpose, you can use tools like BATON from Interra Systems. This tool will help you eliminate processing errors, compression artifacts, file assembly issues, etc.
Quality control checks can be divided into the following types:
- Checking the quality of the main broadcasting channel. The content should be checked before broadcasting; all artifacts should be revealed and eliminated.
- Check for compression artifacts. Pixelation, Moire pattern, etc. need to be detected.
- Check for file integrity and compliance with standards. This check confirms that the encoding was done correctly and the file was not damaged.
After the main check, the content can be sent for ABR transcoding. This is a complex process that involves duplicating transmissions at different bitrates. Transcoding ensures correct segmentation and synchronization of different options.
OTT technology is still evolving, and requirements for monitoring are changing too. In order to accommodate this environment and allow broadcasters to figure out which issues to focus on, monitoring tools need to be architecturally versatile. Moreover, the quality of the streaming platform itself is also important - after all, a client won’t use a service that doesn’t meet all modern performance and UX requirements, regardless of the quality of the content streaming.
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