High Efficiency Streaming Protocol (HESP): Bringing Instant Start-Up, Zapping and Seeking to Online Video
by THEOplayer on April 27, 2020
A recognizable issue with online video streaming is the frequency of loading spinners and its impact on viewer engagement. Slow zapping – the switching between linear channels – and slow seeking is causing abandonment and preventing mass adoption of OTT delivery instead of traditional broadcast. A study from Akamai has shown that people tend to abandon video services rapidly after only two seconds of delay. Where traditional analogue cable tends to have a zapping time in the 0.1s to 1s range, OTT video delivery tends to have increased zapping times of multiple seconds. With many PayTV operators merging their existing parallel IPTV and OTT siloed solutions into a unified next-generation delivery solution, it is important to still offer the quality of experience that online viewers expect, including instant start-up, zapping and seeking times, both on the big screen and on other consumer devices. Video content brings in viewers, but the quality of experience retains them.
HESP drastically changes video delivery and provides for the instant zapping times online viewer expects.
Existing HTTP Adaptive Streaming (HAS) protocols use a segment-based approach. This means that a video is cut up into segments of a few seconds each. This approach leads to high zapping and switching times, causes bandwidth overhead and introduces increased latency. Instead of using a segment-based approach, HESP leverages a frame-based streaming approach, which allows for a much better viewer experience including start-up, zapping and seeking times. With zapping, seeking and start-up times well under 100ms, an experience better than existing broadcast solutions is achieved. The figure below compares HESP to CMAF-CTE, LL-HLS, HLS, DASH, WebRTC and RTMP.
Zapping time test results: HESP outperforms CMAF-CTE
In order to compare latency achievements of HESP, we designed a test scenario where HESP is compared with CMAF-CTE, using the same encoding settings, and a selected set of chunk and segment sizes for the CMAF setup. The time measured was the time between clicking the “zap” button and the first frame showing up on the screen, which is referred to as Time to First Frame (TTFF). More details on the technical setup can be found in the HESP whitepaper.
Based on these results, we can see zapping times for HESP streams are significantly lower compared to the CMAF-CTE setup, reaching values below 100ms on average. Compared even to current digital TV broadcast the zapping with HESP feels instantaneous.