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These Trends and Technologies Unlock the Future of Livestreaming

Visions of holograms headlining concerts and video chats replacing phone calls have long danced through our collective minds. But, as it turns out, even our most active imagination had a surprisingly conservative view on the prominence of video streaming in 2020 and beyond.

Today, streaming video accounts for nearly two-thirds of all internet traffic, and that number is expected to increase to beyond 80% by the end of the year— without even factoring in the massive impact the global coronavirus pandemic has had on video streaming.

Of the five top-performing U.S. tech stocks: Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, each of the tech giants has made their foray into the streaming game. Facebook brought us Facebook Live, Amazon has Amazon Prime Video, Apple recently launched Apple TV+, Netflix is Netflix, and Google owns YouTube.

Taking it a step further than broadcasting, the aforementioned tech giants are using their streaming capabilities to power smart home technology, video-enabled wearables and other intriguing use cases. Beyond merely selling streaming as a service, today’s most innovative companies are integrating live video into their products to create entirely new offerings — thus pushing the limits of what can be achieved.

As the market leader in reliable streaming infrastructure that enables applications to deliver to any device, anywhere, at any scale, for any purpose, we are invested in the future of livestreaming. From significant trends in livestreaming and predictions for the decade ahead to next-generation applications and the critical technologies paving the way, our team compiled the latest information on the state of streaming, let’s see what the future of streaming holds.

Essential Streaming Trends to Understand

As livestreaming grows in popularity, more audiences are engaging across different platforms and established as well as nascent trends are emerging.

Limitless Applications

From internal communication and collaboration to the ability to showcase products, increase company efficiency and reduce costs, there are a seemingly endless amount of ways to make an immediate impact with livestreaming technologies. In the modern world of business, streaming technologies are transforming the way businesses communicate and for some, the way business is done.

Take e-commerce as an example. On one day alone in November 2019, livestreams on Alibaba-owned Taobao Live generated a jaw-dropping$2.85 billion in sales. To date, influencers and brands have reportedly pulled in millions of dollars in revenue through Taobao’s streaming feature, and Taobao even recently launched a standalone app dedicated to e-commerce livestreaming. With Amazon launching Amazon Live in early 2019, it’s safe to say live video shopping can be added to livestreaming’s seemingly endless list of applications.

Additionally, health care professionals on the cutting edge are using livestreaming to improve medical outcomes and push the industry forward. At the same time, smart cities are incorporating video-enabled infrastructure and video surveillance to protect our communities and the world at large. To that end, smart city spending will approach$190 billion in the next few years.

Streaming applications serve a number of use cases and deliver the flexibility required for broad adoption. Even better, as technology has advanced in recent years, it has become more accessible. Video’s proliferation across so many critical applications can be attributed to ever-expanding connectivity, improved quality and the sophistication of the technology. That’s not to say that the engineering behind it is simple, in fact, it’s quite complex, but advanced new tools are helping to democratize livestreaming implementation, and the ubiquity of streaming is forcing vendors to enhance their focus on customer success (more on that in a bit).

Intelligent Data Automation

The digital age is fueled by the increasing amount of data constantly being collected. Today, we possess more data than ever before, but successfully wielding its power requires finding innovative ways to acquire, view and act upon the insights such analysis unveils.

Each time we interact with a digital interface, an increasing amount of data surrounding our consumption patterns is created. As previously noted, streaming makes up a considerable chunk of this raw information, with video forecast to account for 82 percent of all internet traffic by 2022.

To take advantage of this streaming data floating around out there, forward-thinking organizations are leveraging data automation to improve video quality, enhance personalization and targeting, streamline distribution and transform the way content indexing is done. Artificial intelligence and machine learning will lead the charge, improving systems beyond repetitive automation and toward dynamic intelligence.

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Whatever the goal may be, adopting a data-focused approach will undoubtedly separate the industry leaders from the competition in 2020 and beyond.

Customer-Centric Approach

As we all know, the customer experience is more important than ever in 2020. To that end, forward-thinking organizations are shifting their focus toward understanding how technology can be deployed to better serve their customers.

Today, customer success is what drives innovative offerings with comprehensive support. Due to increased customer pressure, tech giants Apple, Amazon and Google recently founded an alliance to ensure compatibility across their competing smart home devices.

Beyond B2C, countless organizations lack video engineering expertise. Consequently, a number of streaming vendors are evolving their professional services offerings because companies are customers too. Whether through partnerships, the constant need for innovation or enhanced B2B offerings, this focus on the customer is expected to boost cross-industry collaboration and drive more interoperability.

At the end of the day, the customer is always right — and delivering consumers the best possible experience ensures mutual success.

Advancing Technologies

Whether discussing evolving low-latency protocols, the power of edge computing or the fifth generation of wireless technology for cellular network communications, a number of critical technologies impact the state of streaming.

For the last decade, players in the streaming space have labored to drive down latency. From Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) and Secure Reliable Transport (SRT) to the Common Media Application Format (CMAF) and Apple’s Low-Latency HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) extension, several cutting-edge protocols will serve as the tools to deliver low-latency streaming at scale. These protocols are in use today, and wide-scale adoption is next. In the years ahead, companies will put them to the test for a variety of use cases.

When it comes to livestreaming, edge computing delivers greater scalability and rapid delivery, plus advanced AI and machine learning capabilities. Additionally, by bringing real-time processing and decision-making closer to users, edge computing helps reduce latency, enables advanced analytics and improves security. Finally, edge environments also amplify automation by reducing the volume of data moving through networks, which will become increasingly important as 5G is rolled out and the internet of things takes over.

5G will increase bandwidth, resulting in faster speeds and better energy consumption, ultimately improving quality and latency. Because5G is expected to transmit information in 1 millisecond or less, futuristic applications, such as remote surgical operations and self-driving cars — will become ordinary in the age of 5G. While adoption has been slow, the integration of myriad 5G-enabled devices will automate tasks like never before. Imagine self-driving cars seamlessly communicating with other vehicles, traffics lights, sensors and drones to prevent accidents. That’s the future with 5G.

2020 and Beyond

As we move further into the future of streaming, improved interoperability, increased speed and ubiquitous streaming are next.

While proprietary technologies like Apple’s HLS protocol remain prominent in the streaming space, open-source alternatives are emerging. What’s more, industry leaders are partnering to provide more holistic solutions for their customers. Take CMAF and AV1 as examples. CMAF was an attempt made by Apple and the Moving Pictures Expert Group to eliminate complexity, and the AV1 video codec was forged by an Amazon, Netflix, Microsoft, Cisco and Mozilla alliance.

As we increase 5G adoption, the use of edge computing and low-latency protocols, the speed of video delivery will be faster than ever. Without meeting consumer demands for video quality and distributor requirements for scalability, low-latency streaming doesn’t mean much, but the combination of 5G, edge computing and low latency will propel video even further into the future.

Finally, as even more internet-connected devices hit the market, it’s safe to assume that a good number of them will implement livestreaming technology — and the internet of things will give way to an internet of streams.

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