Transitioning from “live” to real-time delivery

Lower latency improves user engagement across many verticals

With rapidly evolving technology and consumer needs, the means for live communication with audiences has drastically changed throughout the past decade. The YouNow live streaming app launched in 2011, setting in motion a wave of new ways to create content and interact directly with hundreds of thousands of audience members. Since then, apps like Periscope and have entered the live streaming market, as well as major companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The video streaming software market is expected to grow from its current worth of $3.25 billion to $7.5 billion by 2022 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 18.2%¹.

Despite this steep growth curve, the experience provided by most live streaming applications is lacking true real-time interaction. The end-to-end latency, or the time from when a frame is captured to when it is delivered to its viewers, ranges anywhere from 6 seconds for some social media applications to upwards of several minutes for large scale sporting events.

What comes with this latency — more widely known as lag or delay — are limitations on interactivity and an abundance of spoilers. With social media’s prominence throughout every facet of our lives, it’s difficult to ignore posts from Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook or push notifications from ESPN. Live streaming latency also affects several other industries where real-time delivery will significantly improve the user experience:

  • Major league sports are expanding their presence across a number of streaming platforms to fans around the globe. With current live video implementations, streams often lag tens of seconds of behind in-stadium action. “A 30-second delay might be okay if you’re watching TV in a vacuum, but it’s disruptive if you’re hearing cheers from the neighboring apartment after a big play, or looking at reactions on Twitter before anything’s even happened on your TV.”²
  • Social media platforms are focused on connecting celebrities with their fans over live video. However, viewers often receive low quality feeds, and latency inhibits streamers from true real-time interaction with fans.
  • eSports and video gaming requires low latency in order for remote gamers to play together and for viewers of eSports streaming content to interact with their favorite gamers. “Online gaming customers are twice as likely to abandon a game when they experience a network delay of 500 additional milliseconds.”³
  • Successful webinars rely on participants to communicate with the presenters. Delayed streams lead to questions getting asked well after presenters have moved onto other topics.
  • Online education is meant to mimic an in-person classroom setting. Ideally, students can raise virtual hands at any given moment within a lesson. When live streams are delayed, however, students may become frustrated with the level of interactivity they can have with an instructor. Real-time streaming with no delay can prevent such unnecessary obstacles to academic success.
  • Mere milliseconds separate a bust from a sale in online auctions. When live streams have even a few seconds of latency, buyers may miss out on purchasing opportunities inevitably causing the auction platforms to lose revenue.

Real-time streaming solves many of the above challenges and is becoming a requirement for many businesses.

Phenix’s technology was built to help companies improve their streaming capabilities and transition from “live” delivery to real-time video with less than 1/2 second of end-to-end latency. The goal is to provide a better user experience and happier viewers.