Live and near-live streaming of broadcast quality video content (10 – 40 Mbps) over IP networks with small start-up delays and glitch free experiences have traditionally required expensive and specially provisioned infrastructure. Traditional distribution systems use live satellite feeds from the streaming source or dedicated terrestrial networks with heavy quality of service to ensure low latency and low packet loss rates so as to not degrade the play out quality. In recent years, advances in broadcast quality video compression have also made it possible to distribute lower bit rate versions through web streaming over consumer broadband bandwidths (1-10 Mbps), but even at these bit rates, providers have relied heavily on global content distribution networks (CDNs) to stream the video content from the network edge to the consumer. These CDNs allow the user to take advantage of low round-trip latency and relatively low packet loss rates or a better quality user experience. Note that lower bit rate transcoding does not eliminate the need to ingest a high quality stream to transcoders, which may be remote from the source.
At both ends of the spectrum — broadcast quality ingest and remote play out as well as consumer web streaming — the media enterprise and, indirectly, the consumer pay a heavy premium in infrastructure costs to minimize the network factors that degrade the play out experience, such as network round-trip time and packet loss. This cost is burdensome in any media application or service, but is especially impractical in live and second screen experiences for events that occur only once. One time events such as sport events, movie premieres, concerts, operas, etc. cannot as easily justify the investment associated in erecting dedicated infrastructure for direct distribution, or amortize the CDN costs over long periods of viewing. Additionally, there exist practical constraints that make it difficult to employ CDNs for direct distribution in many second screen applications; media need flow through distant cloud services where scale out properties of the cloud computing platform are necessary for concurrent transcoding of the live stream for several formats. Thus, more often than not, content providers are left to over-provision infrastructure for such live events as a precaution, and pay higher costs.
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