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5 Video Encoding and Streaming Trends to Watch

5 Video Encoding and Streaming Trends to Watch

Video streaming platforms are witnessing several trends in video encoding and decoding that are shaping how content is delivered and experienced by viewers.

Trend #1: Expanding the Reach of Video Streaming with Advanced Codecs

AV1 stands out for its ability to deliver significantly better compression rates than its predecessors, H.264 and HEVC. This enhancement is an efficiency, quality upgrade, and a pivotal shift in how video content is delivered globally. For example, Netflix, a leader in the streaming industry, has begun implementing AV1 to provide higher-quality video at lower bitrates. One of their first markets to use AV1 was India, where the cost of bandwidth and the capacity available were putting pressure on services to stream at even lower bit rates. 

By reducing the data required to stream high-quality video, services can reach more users without requiring extensive infrastructure upgrades. This codec is also crucial for mobile streaming, where users’ data usage is a significant concern. Platforms like YouTube and Meta for Facebook and Instagram have adopted AV1, offering users enhanced video quality without the burden of increased data demands. 

The adoption of AV1 and growing interest in the soon-to-be-released AV2 standard underscore a broader industry trend: The efficiency of data delivery is important, ensuring that streaming services can scale more effectively and sustainably across global and diverse market conditions.

Trend #2: Hardware Encoders are Back

With the increased computational demands of advanced codecs, there’s a growing reliance on hardware acceleration to improve video processing and encoding efficiency. Video Processing Units (VPUs) utilizing ASICs (Application-Specific Integrated Circuits) are becoming prevalent in the data center, as they can handle higher throughputs of video data with lower power consumption compared to software-based solutions. This hardware acceleration supports real-time, high-resolution video streaming across devices like 4K and 8K content​.

NETINT VPUs exemplify this shift. The Codensity G5 ASIC is designed to 10x energy efficiency and throughput of video encoding processes. They support modern codecs such as AV1, HEVC, and H.264, which are crucial for streaming content with reduced bandwidth consumption. These ASIC-based VPU solutions leverage the NVMe protocol for plug-and-play use in x86 and Arm servers with open U.2 or PCIe slots. 

The G5 ASIC-based Quadra VPU family supports real-time encoding for resolutions up to 8Kp60 with HDR, making it suitable for advanced applications that demand UHD video quality. Integrating AI capability with an 18 TOP AI engine enables enhanced video encoding techniques, such as scene-adaptive encoding, which can significantly improve video quality and compression efficiency.

NETINT Quadra series VPUs are particularly beneficial for industries requiring high-density, real-time video encoding and decoding, such as live streaming, cloud gaming, and interactive applications. These VPUs can substantially improve video quality and latency, critical for user satisfaction.

Trend #3: Deepening Personalization via Integration of Machine Learning and AI

Integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning in video streaming services revolutionizes how content is delivered and experienced. These technologies are adept at analyzing viewer behavior and environmental variables to adjust video quality and bitrate dynamically. For instance, during peak internet traffic times, AI can reduce the bitrate without significantly impacting video quality, ensuring smooth playback without buffering. This smart adjustment is crucial for maintaining a high-quality user experience under varying network conditions.

AI also plays a critical role in enhancing video quality through advanced upscaling techniques. Services like Netflix use machine learning to upscale lower-resolution content to higher resolutions, making older or lower-quality footage more visually appealing on modern displays. This improves the viewer’s experience and breathes new life into existing content libraries, extending their relevance and appeal.

AI facilitates more accurate content recommendations, tailoring suggestions to individual preferences and viewing habits, which enhances user engagement and satisfaction. YouTube’s recommendation engine leverages deep learning to analyze user interaction data, optimizing content suggestions to keep viewers engaged longer. These AI-driven capabilities significantly advance in creating a highly personalized and responsive streaming environment that adapts to each viewer’s needs and preferences in real-time.

OpenAI’s Whisper Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) model, integrated with the NETINT Bitstreams Edge media processing software application, enables 30 live channels to be ingested, processed for subtitling, transcoded into HLS or DASH ladders, and packaged on a single 1RU server. This capability dramatically cuts costs and reduces technical complexity while upgrading user experience for live streams.

Trend #4: Enhancing Real-Time Interaction with Low Latency Streaming

The push towards low latency in video streaming is especially crucial in domains where real-time interaction is paramount, such as live sports broadcasts, online gaming, and interactive webinars or live shows. For instance, Twitch and YouTube Live are refining their streaming technologies to offer latency as low as a few seconds, aiming to mimic the immediacy of live television. This delay reduction improves the viewer’s experience and enhances the interaction between content creators and their audience, allowing instantaneous feedback and engagement through comments and reactions.

Technological advancements such as WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) are instrumental in achieving these low-latency streams. WebRTC enables peer-to-peer communications directly in the web browser without the need for complex server-side processing, drastically cutting down the time it takes for video to travel from the source to the viewer. 

Sports streaming services leverage low-latency solutions to synchronize live video feeds with secondary content such as stats overlays, multi-angle views, and social media interactions. This enhances the viewer’s immersion and interaction, making them feel more connected to the live action. Sports broadcasters are experimenting with near-zero latency to allow viewers to choose camera angles and listen to referee conversations, providing a more personalized and interactive viewing experience. 

Trend #5: Sustainability in Video Encoding and Streaming Operations

The video streaming industry is increasingly scrutinized for its environmental impact, leading to a concerted effort to adopt more sustainable practices as Net Zero by 2030 commitments have been made by Netflix and other large video streaming platforms and services. Companies are focusing on optimizing data center operations, which are the backbone of streaming services. Firms like Google and Facebook have significantly reduced their data centers’ carbon footprints by using advanced cooling technologies and shifting toward renewable energy sources. Google has been carbon-neutral since 2007 and aims to run all its operations on carbon-free energy by 2030.

In addition to data center improvements, there is also a movement towards more energy-efficient encoding and decoding hardware. Using video-specific hardware that requires less power to operate without compromising performance is key. NETINT leads the charge with VPUs that draw only 27 watts while encoding 32 live AV1, HEVC, or H.264 1080p streams. These sustainable practices are no longer just corporate responsibility initiatives. They are essential strategies for companies to align with global environmental goals and consumer expectations for more eco-friendly operations

These trends reflect the industry’s efforts to address the growing demands for higher-quality video, broader accessibility, and interactive experiences while also considering the environmental impact and operational costs of video streaming.

Embracing these trends will be key for stakeholders aiming to stay ahead in the competitive landscape. Adopting advanced codecs, integrating hardware acceleration, leveraging AI, delivering lower latency streams, and prioritizing sustainability are essential to compete in the market.

Picture of Mark Donnigan

Mark Donnigan

is a veteran of the video ecosystem, working with disruptive innovation companies like NETINT to increase video codec standards and streaming video technology adoption. In addition to working at the forefront of building one of the world's first T-VOD services and driving early HEVC and AV1 adoption, Mark contributed actively to the development and growth of the digital locker initiative, Ultraviolet, breaking device-based content walled gardens, allowing consumers to enjoy video on any device, any time, and in any location. As a technologist and ecosystem developer, Mark's work building cloud-deployed and hyper-scale WebRTC, live, metaverse, and cloud gaming applications gives him a unique view of the OTT and video streaming landscape.

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