With the recent surge in popularity of online video, new solutions are emerging to optimise the quality and reduce the cost of distribution.
On show ten days ago at the NAB SHOW* in Las Vegas alongside Level(3)**, French startup Streamroot.io, which graduated from the 5th season of Paris-based accelerator ‘boot camp’ Le Camping, went on a week later to become the IT/COMMUNICATIONS track winner at the Hello Tomorrow Challenge conference held in Paris on 18-19 April. This was an opportunity for L’Atelier to take another look at this new broadcasting solution with Streamroot co-founder Pierre-Louis Théron. Nowadays, online video, whether in live or replay mode, has become part and parcel of many people’s lives. However, there are often problems with the distribution, including slow speed, mediocre picture quality and ‘buffering’ issues. To address these drawbacks, Streamroot.io has developed a solution which enables faster streaming of video content.
Current system overloaded
At the moment, all the subscribers watching an online video use exactly the same bandwidth servers and download their videos from a single source. Illustrating the problem, Pierre-Louis Théron points out that “on 6 April, the first episode of season 4 of the Game of Thrones came out. Everyone was very excited about it, there were too many people using it and all the servers crashed.” Aimed at online broadcasters, i.e. all providers who distribute online video, including YouTube and Dailymotion, plus also mainstream TV channels, the solution developed by Streamroot.io is based on a novel concept: ‘peer-to-peer’ distribution. Explains the company co-founder: “With this system, data exchange is decentralised. When you download from your neighbour you potentially have thousands of sources available as opposed to just one, which results in enhanced service quality.” Although there are already P2P solutions in existence, what is different about the Streamroot.io solution is that it does not require any plug-ins or software that the user needs to install. The code is directly integrated into the website video player.
Potentially huge distribution cost savings
Streamroot.io looks like being able to offer real savings to distributors. These days, when broadcasting online video, they are charged by their Internet service provider for the bandwidth they use, based on the amount of data being transmitted over the pipes. So the more video people download, the more expensive it is to send. The Streamroot solution should therefore lead to a considerable reduction in bandwidth costs, since “anything that does not transit over the bandwidth will not be billed,” explains Théron. Accordingly, the startup is promising broadcasters reductions of 50 - 90% in bandwidth costs. As a first step Streamroot.io is targeting the North American market, which is a major consumer of online video and has a correspondingly large number of broadcasters. Théron also points out the advantages of this type of solution in emerging countries of Latin America and South-East Asia, where the number of online video viewers is growing fast but reception quality so far remains very poor. Moreover, given that the P2P approach can potentially be used everywhere, it could well meet the needs of broadcasters during international events such as the soccer World Cup and the Olympic Games, which many subscribers follow closely online.
*The NAB Show is an annual trade show produced by the US National Association of Broadcasters
**Level 3 Communications is a US-based multinational telecommunications and Internet service provider