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Streaming - CDN Solutions

Using multiple CDNs offers great possibilities to optimise reach, create redundancy and manage peak traffic. But, the means to control OTT TV delivery are limited and information about potential drops in quality of experience (QoE) lands with each CDN provider. This leaves content distributors with limited visibility into any video quality issues, greatly reducing their ability to address potential problems and improve the service in real time.

These issues were highlighted in a recent online survey from Edgeware and streaming media expert Dan Rayburn. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of participants confirmed that their customers have suffered from bad delivery at some point, yet 30% have no visibility at all into their customers’ QoE. What’s more, 55% have no means to correct any quality-affecting issues in real time, potentially leading to lost customers and revenue.

StreamPilot, Edgeware’s cloud-based multi-CDN control platform with newly-added automation capabilities, solves these problems. It lets broadcasters and content providers take full control of their OTT TV delivery in multi-CDN environments, fully independent of the delivering CDN. It’s also completely client agnostic, thereby removing the need for complex and costly client integrations projects.

With its strategic location – sitting in the control plane between the CDN and the client – StreamPilot allows streaming providers to proactively and in-session switch or modify the delivery of every single segment from the CDNs to the client device. It measures each segment request made by the client in real time and redirects it to the most optimised CDN.

This functionality was supplemented in April 2020 with the addition of AutoPilot, its automated optimisation capability. This gives broadcasters and content providers the option to automatically perform actions triggered by StreamPilot’s real-time session data. The AutoPilot feature identifies, classifies and automatically presents quality issues in a unified view for all the delivering CDNs being used in one combined GUI. The issues presented can be related to the device, delivery CDN, ISP or the content itself. The data is processed, analysed and presented with a classification on severity level.  

As well as enabling streaming providers to react quickly and resolve potential problems before they seriously impact the viewing experience, AutoPilot also identifies problems they cannot resolve, such as ISP-related or other infrastructure-impacting circumstances. This reduces operational costs, shortens QoE troubleshooting and enables customer service organisations to better understand what’s causing bad quality.

Finally, users get indications and early warnings of potential problems, which, if left untouched, can grow into bigger and more serious concerns. Valuable session data around CDN performance and overall QoE metrics provides key insights to help streaming providers monetise their services, such as using AI to create new innovative offerings, perform A/B testing, or create tailormade offerings for viewers.

Following a successful testing period, Norway’s leading commercial streaming service, TV 2 Sumo, deployed StreamPilot in July 2020. The ability to quickly test and add new features and functionalities – and utilise data analytics and machine learning algorithms – allows TV 2 Sumo to better manage and improve its services.

By giving users the unique capability to automatically – or manually – mitigate the problems through actions such as selecting another CDN for the delivery, StreamPilot meets a growing demand from broadcasters and content providers to automatically optimise delivery in order to avoid quality problems. This demand was demonstrated in Edgeware’s survey, where 75% of streaming TV providers highlighted the importance of monitoring and controlling the delivery of their TV services in real time.