Streaming ups the ante for video

BBC iPlayerImage via Wikipedia Three different stories showing that streaming is upping the ante for video.
Martin points out that streaming is killing p2p. PlusNet’s data shows 170% YoY while P2P downloads are down 8% YOY.
Nic points out that Amazon is extending its streaming service to Macs and TV albeit with a hideous price point.
Finally, Marketing Charts points out online TV viewing has doubled in two years. The data shows streaming is used by 68% of viewers versus streaming (used by 38%)
Fundamentally, streaming is the most expensive of all of these but how much more than p2p isn’t clear. ISPs talk about the BBC Iplayer because it is manifestly popular–if Joost was popular they might complain about Joost. That fact they don’t has less to do with the differences in network architecture (p2p was a bit of pink elephant) and more to do with the success of the iPlayer.
Streaming is much less expensive if you can use a protocol like Multicast, which Inuk Networks (one of my companies) does very successfully–and is able to deliver much higher picture qualities and far less jitter than some of the p2p based internet TV broadcasting services. And anyone using iPlayer on Virgin or Be will be used to the 90s style buffering icons that interrupt every one of Duncan Bannatyne’s quips.

Perhaps the biggest lesson is less about the technology but more about the consumer experience. The BBC iPlayer works because it is a beautiful application with a great set of content. It took off not with the weird Kontiki-powered thing (which they may not even use anymore) but when Flash-video made the user-interface friction free.

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3 Comments

  1. delanthear
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    “Streaming is much less expensive if you can use a protocol like Multicast, which Inuk Networks (one of my companies) does very successfully–and is able to deliver much higher picture qualities and far less jitter than some of the p2p based internet TV broadcasting services.”

    That isn’t quite true based on the UK infrastructure. When looking at traditional ADSL technology in the UK, the bottleneck is the exchange connectivity which is between the customer and the ISP. Caching servers and multicasting which stops at the ISP can’t help in this situation.

    More information on this blog post here:
    http://community.plus.net/blog/2008/02/28/how-uk-isps-are-charged-for-broadband-the-cost-of-ipstream/

  2. Posted September 5, 2008 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Good observation.
    It does depend on the network architecture, you are right.
    For cable networks, if multicast enabled, would definitely benefit from multicast.
    As for DSl networks, the bottleneck is more cumbersome.
    If you are an LLU operator then essentially you have as much bandwidth as you need between your DSLAM and the end customer. The bottleneck becomes the backhaul link (which you may be paying to BT), in that scenario won’t multicast defray some of those costs?

  3. delanthear
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    The big cost for us is sending the data from our network to the customer via the BT Wholesale network and that costs somewhere in the region of £130 per Mbps per month.
    Whether you have multicast or not the BT Wholesale costings are exactly the same. Simply because the last point you can deliver the multicast feed to, in this type of architecture, is within our network. So you will always have an individual feed going to each customer from our network.
    Where multicast can save money is in the delivery to our network from the content provider. But at less than £20 per Mbps for transit bandwidth the saving is at best only a fraction of the BT Wholesale cost and considering that we’ll have a peering arrangement with some of the content providers (like the BBC) the saving is actually zero because it costs no more to have 500 individual streams over the peering link than 1 multicast stream.

    For an LLU provider it depends on the design of their network, they can take the traffic from the exchange in a number of ways. They could take the multicast feed direct to each exchange if the network has been designed in that way, or they may only be able to take the feed to a central PoP. There’s potential for some cost saving with LLU using multicast but at the expense having a potentially more expensive build in the first place.

    (That was written by Tommo, who is responsible for all the Traffic Management blogs on community.plus.net btw )


2 Trackbacks

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