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Mar 26, 2013

Jolokia’s live streaming event success story


Jolokia’s live streaming event success storyWhat does it take to deliver a successful live streaming event? As an Internap partner, Jolokia provides support for delivery of live and on-demand rich media. In today’s blog, Mark Pace, CTO of Jolokia, shares details about a client’s recent live streaming event and also discusses the challenges that providers must address to successfully deliver streaming content online.

In January 2013, three months of planning and testing ended with a brilliant reveal of a new automobile at the Detroit Auto Show. The live streaming event lasted a beautiful 11 minutes and was viewed globally over 600,000 times. While the stress involved matched the number of viewers, all our planning and testing paid off in the end and the event went as planned.

To deliver a successful online event to this many people, the video stream was shared via the manufacturer website, dealer websites from across the globe, and Facebook. We used Flash adaptive technologies and transmuxing to HLS, which provided the stream in a maximum of HD 1280×720 to both desktop and mobile devices. Using this adaptive technology along with the transmuxing allowed us to reach as many devices as possible under differing network conditions, including home cable connections and mobile viewers.

Finally, with our sights set on breaking half a million views, we knew we needed a solid global Content Delivery Network (CDN) with adaptive Flash delivery, transmuxing, stability and scale. Internap, our close partner for over a decade, filled these needs perfectly. And, in addition to supporting us through the purely technical requirements, they joined us for many of the planning calls and remained on the video streaming tech conference call before and during the event. This kind of support gave us and our auto manufacturing customer the peace of mind needed to survive the stress that goes into a production of this sort.

Challenges to successful live events
Let’s face it – mobile and live streaming capabilities only work consistently on one vendor’s mobile devices right now. Treading the waters that are now… read this… worse than they were when video streaming first became available in the ‘90s is unbelievable. Waiting for MPEG-DASH to emerge as the standard for online mobile delivery is equally disturbing, when all the technologies to get live streaming working to almost all mobile devices are available now. Not that any of the industry giants will read this blog and take this to heart, but seriously, H.264 and HLS work now, and you can implement that while waiting for our greater needs and dreams to be serviced by DASH. Need I mention that almost all devices have H.264 hardware decoders in them specifically for this?

Lessons learned
Because of the inconsistent live streaming capabilities on mobile devices right now, we would want to dive much further into our device detection before our next event. This is extremely painful because there are hundreds of devices, each with differing versions of software. Putting together the matrix for these devices will take months, but considering the viewership levels, it will be worth it. Having reliable fallback videos that continue the video experience and warn users to wait for the on demand content are a must on the next go.

Moving targets: Social media obstacles
Social sites are rapidly evolving beasts that show no chance of slowing their furious pace. Because social networking sites make regular updates and changes, the window of time to test out the latest technologies on these sites is short. This will continue to be a pain point going forward, and having a well-developed test plan that can be modified easily and executed on short order is currently the only stop gap for this challenge.

Delivering a successful live streaming event requires careful planning, and the flexibility to adapt your plan to emerging technologies. Internap’s global CDN allows us to stream transmuxed VOD and deliver high-quality online events with low latency, which in this case resulted in more than 600,000 views. The support of a trusted partner also helps address the challenges regarding mobile capabilities and social media site changes.

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