Looking back at when cable TV ruled, and you had to surf through the TV guide for Sydney’s latest and best to watch content, if you are a resident of Sydney Australia. It changed when online video streaming services came into being. Our earliest concept of streaming came from YouTube. In those days, we had to do some home-tips to stream smoothly. One example was opening the video, pausing it, and waiting for the grey bar to reach completion. Times have changed!
Looking at streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, etc. we see a redefined smooth stream that compels users to watch further. Rarely do we see the annoying circle of buffering in the middle. If you’re a tech enthusiast, you’d like to get your hands on the technology that makes this happen. In this article, we will show the technology employed by the services that give the user the streaming experience. This technology simply defines the live TV streaming and Video-On-Demand (VOS) services.
In a nutshell, we can say that it uses a Content Delivery Network (CDN) infrastructure, powered by Amazon’s Web Services (AWS). It is responsible for caching data, streamlining it with the Point of Presence (POP), and restricting data from the cloud hosting service. This process is divided into 5 elaborate steps, which are discussed below:
Ingestion is for those streaming services that support live TV streams. If there is a sporting event like NFL, NBA, MLB, etc., the program’s signal is live-streamed and is the ingestion point. It’s from this point that it goes further into the system for transcoding.
The format from ingestion requires transcoding for the system to understand the signal, which means a change of format. After this step, comes the Management step
With the newly transcoded set of data, it needs to manage accordingly. This includes digital rights, content protection, and ad insertion for ad-based streaming services. After this management, comes the delivery and playback part.
4. Delivery and Playback
After the assortment in management, comes the final video stream available for watching on various devices. However, this step has complications before it reaches the viewer’s eyes. The transcoding part involves converting the encoded video into a raw video stream, which is encoded again for different audiences and settings. For example, the transcoding process for people streaming 1080p will differ from those streaming 720p or 480p or vice versa.
Because a live stream is not restricted to one streaming service or device, the encoded video files must be wrapped multiple times. It can be wrapped up to 20 times based on the device and service it is being produced for.
5. Chaos Engineering
After this entire process, the system of streaming services like Netflix requires a constant check on faults and issues. This is where the concept of chaos engineering was coined, and Netflix employed it to the max. To understand this, we must globally understand Netflix.
Netflix has over 200+ million streamers across the globe, unlike the streaming services which are region restricted. Many of these streamers even use VPNs to bypass geo-restrictions, some attempt to copy the content for publishing online, and some want genuine content without worrying about buffering problems. Having this much diverse customer base, Netflix cannot afford to have bugs ruin this flawless streak of theirs. Especially when they have such awesome directors and actors jump shipping to Netflix.
This is the part where Chaos Engineering comes into play. Netflix has its own ‘Chaos monkey’ that does a lot of testing and trials of the service and detects issues and bugs in severely extreme situations. Before any hackers get used to bugs, Netflix engineers prepare for it beforehand. Whenever the Netflix app is updated, it is equipped with more encryption power, security, and authenticity. This allows Netflix to be a flawless streaming service because of its continuous improvement efforts.
Hulu also implements chaos engineering to improve their live streaming capabilities and facilitate viewers. If you plan to have your streaming service, you will need to set a separate budget for your team of chaos engineers.
6. Advantages of CDN
Through the CDN technology, streaming services can get various advantages. These advantages are described below:
Scalability is one of the most crucial benefits of a CDN technology as it allows streaming platforms to deliver their media content to their millions of subscribers throughout the world.
This way, streaming services can fulfill demands of their subscribers in the best possible manner and at the same time they can manage viewership spikes appropriately.
In short, the role of scalability comes in handy when streaming platforms want to improve their subscribers’ base to the next level without compromising the quality of media content.
Reliability is another important benefit of CDN technology that plays a significant role video streaming-wise. An efficient CDN framework evenly distributes network traffic across different services.
As a result, streaming companies can manage traffic spikes in a better way without facing any difficulty whatsoever.
A CDN network also helps streaming companies to keep their official websites secure using fresh SSL certificates. These SSL certificates offer a higher level of encryption, authentication, and security overall.
The best thing about a CDN technology is its next level of security that protects websites from different cybersecurity risks such as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
Through CDN technology, viewers can enjoy watching their favorite TV shows, movies, and other media content at an impressive video quality. Similarly, viewers can experience amazing audio quality while streaming TV shows or films on a wide range of devices.
The CDN employed by these streaming services gives us users the best of content. It is one of the reasons we speak so highly of these platforms. The CDN implemented promises greater scalability, reliability, data security, and a faster stream. As a tech enthusiast, the keyword for your future streaming service will be the CDN it is based on. It needs to be implemented with constant effort and backed by constant chaos engineering to break into the market of streaming services.