Leveraging Ultra Low Latency Streaming to Drive ROI in the Sports Betting Industry

Watch the recording to unlock the game-changing potential of ultra low latency for sports betting

Watch the VOD of the webinar and learn more about the ultra low latency streaming (ULL) for sportsbooks and rights holders. iGameMedia and THEO Technologies are coming together to introduce the advantages of their groundbreaking partnership. The webinar covers the following topics:

  • Current challenges in the sports betting industry
  • How to achieve ultra low latency streaming at scale with THEOlive
  • Live demo: How iGame ONEPlatform empower sportsbooks and rights holders by offering ultra low latency streaming
  • Industry implications and benefits for the sportsbook market (revenue increase)

Webinar Transcript

The webinar covers challenges in video streaming for the sports betting market, the THEOlive end-to-end real time video API and the iGame ONEPlatform.

Bart Snoeks: Hi everyone. Welcome to our webinar on leveraging ultra low latency streaming for the sports betting industry.  We'll give it a minute for other people to join and then we kick off. Thank you.

Welcome everyone to our webinar on Ultra Latency Streaming for the Sports Betting Industry. I'm Bart Snoeks. I work as the Account and Partnership Director focusing on the THEOlive product at THEO Technologies. We are a company based in Belgium with worldwide customers focused on video playback and live streaming in ultra low latency.

And today I have a colleague of mine here, Chris, who would like to introduce himself, of course.

Chris Cousin: Hello everybody! Welcome to today's webinar. I'm Chris Cousin, Commercial Director at iGameMedia. I've come from about 14 years of experience in the sports betting industry, providing services to the industry offering services across low latency streaming, consumer streaming, data; all manners of things of sports betting.  

So you're very welcome and I hope you enjoy today's webinar. 

Bart Snoeks: Thanks, Chris. So before we kick off, we have some practical things. You can find within this webinar, some controls on the back. So if you want to let us know how you feel, and some are already letting us know, you can do that with the react button.

You can also go full screen. Of course, on the right hand side, you can get into the poll section. We'll come back to that later on. And feel free to ask some additional questions during the webinar; we will collect them and try to answer all of them during the Q&A at the end of the webinar. Also important to know is that we'll send, of course, the slides and recording to everyone attending this webinar or registered for this webinar, shortly after the webinar.

Let's look at the agenda. We first look, of course, at the challenges in video streaming for the sports betting market; iGameMedia and THEO have partnered in this, so we want to express this of course, as well. Then we'll dive a bit more technically into our THEOlive end-to-end real time video API and Chris will talk about the iGame ONEPlatform.

Together, we think that we are the holy grail for the sports betting industry, so we'll discuss that. Take some key takeaways from the webinar and then come back to the questions, of course, at the end of the webinar. 

Before we start let's kick off the webinar with a short poll. Question here is 

What do you see as the biggest challenge for sports betting streaming?

You should be seeing the poll now on screen in an overlay. So please submit your vote and then let's give it a few seconds. And then we can see, of course, the results of the votes as well. So feel free to submit your vote on the poll. I already see a lot of votes coming in. 

Main part (concern) now is indeed video latency. So I see around 55, 57% of viewers responding video latency. It's of course a topic that we will highlight here. Next one in the results is consumer expectations. It's definitely linked, of course, towards these. I don't see many others, so I think our four questions were good, Chris.

Good, let's dive in. Challenges in streaming for the sportsbook market. Chris I, give the word to you to explain this with your years of career in this industry. 

Video Latency
Video streaming for sports betting is currently often done with HLS. However, the latency leads to disengaged user experiences. Today you need lower latencies, for engaging user experiences, and a higher ROI.

Chris Cousin: Thank you, Bart. So let's talk about video latency. I think whilst our ultra low latency product can achieve sub second streaming with ease, I think the point of this is the evolution of data in the market.

Scoring and pricing is so badly out of line with HLS, which is the current format used. And it could be argued that from a betting perspective, it is more like watching highlights. The objective is not to give the user or the operator any advantage, but to make the value proposition of live video and betting as it should be.

Originally, it all started with Flash. It moved to HLS, but the technology has not evolved in line with consumer demand. It's leading to a disengaged user experience away from the video. Organically, this disengaged user experience will devalue the proposition of the video rights for the market and that is the point that we really need to truly address from a return on investment point of view.

Data Latency
Live data has evolved tremendously over the years, and has become a key element in the sports betting market. In order to give the best user experiences, it's important to align video latency to data latency.

Chris Cousin: If we move to data latency, live data has evolved tremendously over the years. It's now becoming the most prominent need for the sports betting market to operate through autonomous market management, pricing through the scoreboards, push notifications, and automated live text commentary; all being powered through a single data source that has established its own value in the market.

So with the power of data, there is a significant consideration of many rights holders who own the rights to the official data and some sensitivities around compromising the value of speed of this data. So our unique position and re-education to the industry is that the low latency stream does not need to be sub second, but designed to complement the data that exists in parallel.

And to repeat what I mentioned above, it's not about giving the user or the operator any advantage, but delivering the value proposition of live video and betting as it should be today.

Network Scalability
HLS has set the standard of what scalability should look like. Through leveraging traditional CDNs it can easily scale, and on budget. When moving into ultra-low latency video streaming, it's imperative that the same delivery infrastructure is used to bring scalability while keeping costs low.

Chris Cousin: If we look at network scalability, it's important to recognize that HLS has established a true sense of what a global audience requires; the demand for live streaming, allowing us to fully understand the growth and scale required in order to develop the technology to support streaming. However, with any new technology, understanding the network demands in the first instance and being able to deliver streaming at scale and on budget, could be considered a shot in the dark at this stage.

What we do know, however, and through the technology that Bart will go through, is that the traditional CDN space, the established infrastructure that exists, such as Fastly or Akamai, are providing us known quantities in terms of scale and reach, and more importantly, a cost. For us, it is imperative that using the same platform delivery methods through a CDN structure, the same way as HLS exists today, allows us to deliver the same level of cost base that everyone is comfortable with today and Bart will outline that later on in the presentation.

Consumer Expectations
The consumer's low tolerance for engagement urges a shift in expectations for live streaming. End users should be able to enjoy high-quality video, even when there are changing network demands. Parties like iGameMedia play a key role in this. Through ensuring stream quality, for any network condition, they safeguard brand reputation, and ultimately help drive sustainable growth for their customers.

Chris Cousin: As we all know, we all consume content, but we have a very limited tolerance to engage with content. It's important that we need to change customer expectations and retain those user behaviors when it comes to live streaming. To address the challenge that's across the industry, we need to firstly look at the network scalability and user performance through technology; removing the reliance on the consumer - the end users, to react to changes and demands on the network.

As third parties, it's our responsibility to duly protect the outright integrity of our clients products and brands, delivering brand reputation that is essential, where the responsibility for stream quality, delivery, performance, and importantly, the latency of the video is retained within our control on behalf of our customers.

Consumers simply don't recognize third parties play a responsible part in the workflow. For us, it's about recognizing our responsibility in order to deliver sustainable growth for our customers. 

iGame Media and THEO Technologies partnership
The partnership between THEO Technologies and iGameMedia was strategic, aiming to resolve the challenges covered in the previous sections. THEOlive leverages the High Efficiency Streaming Protocol (HESP). Compared to WebRTC it's game-changing, as it behaves similarly as HLS in terms of quality and scalability, but brings ultra-low-latency and improved ABR, to easily cope with changing network conditions. This will elevate cross-platform sports streaming experiences.

Chris Cousin: I think as we've gone through this, it's important to now understand why iGame felt that THEO was the perfect partner for what we were trying to achieve in the industry.

And I think reflecting on the outlines I've just discussed, and as a business on all these points, a number of factors as to why HESP, High Efficiency Streaming Protocol, and THEO was the perfect balance of what we're trying to enter into the market. And I think unlike the incumbent suppliers of WebRTC and the vast experience that we even have with WebRTC in a B2B sense, HESP was a perfect solution to provide the outright functionality at scale in delivering this game changing solution.

Firstly, it's segment based. It's not like WebRTC where, and therefore we can set the segment sizes of just one or two seconds. It behaves similarly to HLS, hence my point around the CDN distribution layer. Ultimately, it allows us to create the capabilities and constant monitoring of a user and their connection strengths up and down and adjust accordingly. So if you imagine a user's network that changes from 4G to 3G to WiFi, whatever, it's all changing in 1/25th of a second as an adaptive solution. And that, to me, removes the reliance on the consumer from having to do that.

Elevate your sports streaming experience

Chris Cousin: This will ultimately lead to an elevated streaming experience, the return on investments that's needed, and ultimately allow us to bring to market a truly accessible solution that is not cost prohibitive. Low latency streaming should not be considered a premium product, a simple replacement to the HLS technology that's outdated and needs a bump.

Mobile-First Experience

Chris Cousin: For us, mobile-first is 100% the most dominant force in the industry today. We have a significant trend of traffic using mobile devices for us. And our responsibility is to ensure our all development efforts, all activities are driven towards a mobile centric solution. Within THEO Technology, they were very much ahead of the curve around mobile-first technology, how adaptive they need to be to iOS changes, to Android changes, and ultimately being able to adapt to the third parties that make changes to the mobile consumers.

THEOlive: an end-to-end real-time streaming solution
THEOlive is a comprehensive cloud-based streaming solution. It makes real-time streaming at scale easy. When ingesting RTMP or SRT, it takes care of encoding, packaging, distribution over global CDN POPs, and playback. It leverages HESP for ultra-fast delivery. The solution also includes, real-time viewer insights, and broad device support, ensuring efficient, ultra-low latency streaming across various platforms and devices.

Chris Cousin: So I think I'm going to hand over to Bart now to go through the kind of infrastructure. But if you can remember the point I made around in order to establish a technology and a cost base for delivering that technology and why HESP makes so much sense to our customers and to our suppliers, I think it's important to cover the technology behind the scenes.

Bart Snoeks: Definitely. Thanks, Chris. So I want to highlight a little bit what we do with the THEOlive solution. So we call it an end-to-end cloud-based solution for real-time streaming at scale. The way it works technically is you deliver us an RTMP or an SRT feed, of course we can be in RTMP push or pull mode or caller listener mode in SRT. And we have a wide variety of third party brand contribution encoders that we have worked with already and tested with the solution, of course. 

It can be any RTMP, SRT delivery towards the system from the venue typically. We ingest that into our THEOlive clouds. We do full ABR transcoding. We do packaging, as Chris mentioned, with the HESP (High Efficiency Streaming Protocol) packaging protocol. So it's important here, of course. This is a technology that was invented by the THEO R&D team; productized since a year now into the THEOlive. That's a little bit of a distinction compared to other real time latency protocols, we deliver over a regular CDM while still achieving sub-second latency if needed.

And, and that's a big advantage here because as Chris mentioned, we can leverage CDMs like. Like Fastly, Akamai, who have like thousands of caching servers already installed and hundreds of POPs worldwide. So we did not want to invent a new wheel. What we wanted to do is invent a protocol here that could leverage the power of these CDNs worldwide and distribute over that CDN. So that's what we do with this ecosystem. 

Then, of course, with 10 years of experience in the playback world, we have a dedicated THEOlive player that plays these HESP streams. It's, of course, optimized for latency. It has control on the latency. It has, as well, capabilities to do those things cross device. I'll talk about that a bit later. 

And we have an important one, viewer metrics so you can have real time insights of which people are watching from which regions are they watching, what devices are they using, what latency do they get, so you get all of that in real time metrics. 

When we talk about delivery we have a lot of sports betting companies and sportsbooks, of course, who want to deliver over the web. So we have support on all types of browsers, both on desktop as well as on mobile. As well as, of course, native SDKs for iOS, tvOS, Android, Android TV. We even have React Native implementation. We have support for Fire TV sticks, Android TV setup boxes. And a specific highlight here as well on the Amino digital signage box, the H200, which is used a lot in venues or in venue streaming typically also around sports betting and betting shops.

I think even Chris, you at iGame Media, are using this box as well, end to end. So yeah, that's the vast majority of devices that we support with HESP playback. 

Real-time streaming at scale is complex
Real-time streaming often involves a tradeoff between latency, scalability, and quality of experience when using technologies like DASH, HLS, WebRTC, and WebSocket. HLS, widely used in sports betting, excels in quality and scalability but lacks end-to-end latency. On the other hand, WebRTC resolves latency issues but often compromises on quality due to its original design for webinars. While some companies adapt WebRTC for real-time streaming effectively, many struggle, leading to quality issues like frame drops and color space shifting. Content protection in WebRTC also faces inconsistencies across browsers, impacting sports betting providers negatively. Moreover, scaling WebRTC requires building a network, which is both costly and technically challenging. In contrast, HESP resolves latency, scalability, and quality issues. This innovation, integrated into THEOlive, offers solutions across these fronts, presenting a comprehensive approach to real-time streaming challenges.

Bart Snoeks: How does it now compare? Because typically in this world, we see three types of protocols we can discuss, of course, on top of WebRTC, also WebSocket.

But HLS what is used often today, in sports betting industry, with low latency versions, yes or no there's a big variety out there. They are very good in the quality of experience typically because they deliver inadaptive bitrate, they deliver over regular CDNs, you can add content protection with DRM, studio proof DRM on top of that, they're very scalable because they use the CDN. The problem here is, of course latency, so they're not that good at end-to-end latency, which we want to achieve for the sports betting market.

Then if you compare that to WebRTC, it solves that latency, but the quality of experience is often much less when using WebRTC, typically because it's not a protocol that is designed for this type of scaling. It's actually designed for a webinar usage, but of course it's adapted by some companies to try to use it for sports betting or latency streaming, real time streaming.

Some of them do that in a good way. I'm not going to discuss that, but some are really poor. Sometimes they do not even use ABR. They start dropping frame rates. We see a lot of shifting in color spaces because it's typically something that is not being used in a WebRTC environment. So there's a lot of things that can go wrong here with WebRTC. It's also UDP delivery, I'll come back to that later on. 

Content protection, some companies are trying now to solve content protection by adding DRM on top of that. Then you have capabilities in some browsers and in other browsers it's not possible. It's not really the type of way of working you want as a sports book provider.

Then scalability. Unfortunately, you have to build your own network to scale it out, which is not really cost efficient either. It's not really technically the ideal position where you want to be to deliver these streams. It takes a lot of effort to take that full control and it's a complete different way of working compared to scaling over thousands of caching servers out there, which have a proven record to scale. So that's the important thing here, of course. 

We try to solve these issues, and this is actually a work of multi years that we talked about five, six years ago, when the R&D team at THEO started by inventing the HESP protocol, we wanted to really target all of these topics. And that's what we did after years of development and then also productized this with our THEOlive product. So we're basically good at all these points.

HTTP-based scaling vs WebRTC based scaling
Distributing to multiple sportsbooks simultaneously poses difficulties with WebRTC, making HTTP-based scaling with HESP more efficient for such tasks. HTTP-based scaling through HESP involves encoders, packaging via a streaming server, and CDN scaling over HTTP. In contrast, WebRTC scales through spinning up servers in the backend, delivering over UDP, leading to potential issues in countries with restricted UDP traffic.

Bart Snoeks: If we compare the HTTP based scaling, which we do with HESP, it's very similar to how HLS or Dash are being streamed today.

You take an encoder, you take a streaming server to handle the packaging, and then, of course, you have a CDN that pulls from that origin server and it scales over HTTP. Typically traversing all types of networks because typically HTTP and HTTP traffic is open to the world on all devices. So no issues there.

To talk about WebRTC, it typically scales by multi encoding, multi streaming service. So you start scaling actually additional servers in the back end and delivery is over UDP. As such, typically on good networks, not too complicated, but a lot of countries where mobile operators are even blocking UDP traffic on their mobile networks at some point if they see congestion; so this is not this type of situation where you want to be. 

We also see a lot of slow startups of streams in countries. These are mainly complaints that we see from customers who are using today's WebRTC solutions. So fast startup times, it's something that we have sort of solved, of course, as well with the HESP protocol doing this within a few hundred milliseconds. So these are technically, let's say the biggest challenges and focuses here.

Regarding the distribution together with iGame Media: we want to distribute to a large number of sportsbooks simultaneously and handling that with WebRTC could become very, very difficult. That's what Chris also mentioned from their experience over the past years.

Streaming from 7-9 seconds to sub-second
The discussion revolves around transitioning from 7-9 second latency to sub-second streaming, highlighting the importance of synchronized video and data feeds for user engagement in sports betting. Sub-second latency aligns with the market's needs, optimizing the streaming experience to complement real-time data. The comparison between current HLS delivery and the new solution showcases the significance of synchronized experiences, aiming to retain users on sportsbook pages longer by eliminating distractions caused by data-video discrepancies.

Bart Snoeks: Chris maybe because you are very knowledgeable in the way you have been using HLS so far, and we have discussed for many months, the switch to HESP you can maybe explain a bit because this is an important one to understand as well for the data people.

Chris Cousin: So, as again, just to re-emphasise, sub second streaming is very possible to achieve if the requirement of the market needs it. So, typically, if there's no in running data feed supporting the in running markets for a sportsbook, low latency, sub second latency does have a role to play. For sports streaming, generally, HLS standardised latency is between 7 and 9 seconds. Data feeds are typically delivered in under a second. Working with the biggest bookmaker in the world, Bet365, we defined that the typical latency expectations of a live stream to complement the data is two seconds. And we believe that is as simple as it needs to be in order to not disrupt the data business.

As I mentioned before, it has a prominent stamp on the industry. It's about complementing that data feed with a suitable stream latency. If you imagine data today, you're getting push notifications, scoreboards are updating, your distraction from the video will always originate to the data feed because the video is so far behind.

By complimenting the data feed means that the user experience is maintained because they're seeing why the data is updating within two seconds of it happening, so technically a second later. And for us, that's what the market is telling us, the biggest operator in the world is telling us, and I think it's important to recognize that it's the customer who decides how they want to consume the stream, how they want their customers to consume the stream, and how they want us to protect an established data model that drives betting markets, drives turnover, autonomous betting, and scoreboards in order to deliver a synchronized solution. 

I'm going to show you a quick video now of our Moda Super Series, which is a localized darts tournament in the UK operating around the world, and it's designed to give you a bit of understanding around what is currently in the industry and what we're pushing forward with our low latency solution with THEO and why it's imperative for a consumer experience.

So on the left is the current HLS delivery in service today. And on the right is this, the HESP solution through THEO, where you can see that the data is matching up with the streaming, so the experience is synchronized. On the left, the data is changing, but the video is still playing catch up.

So organically, you're starting to lose your user engagement on the stream because the data is taking precedent. And for us, it's about really pushing the user experience so the engagement time is longer on a sportsbook page, they're not navigating away, they're not distracted from suspended markets or out of sync data with video; they want to be able to have that universal experience as if they are at the venue. And for us, it's about driving a level of retention to a sports book page because ultimately they've lots and lots of customers and we want to keep those customers on the sportsbook pages for as long as possible using video and data as a way to keep them engaged and retained on the page.

ONEPlatform integration with ONEMap
The iGame ONEPlatform revolutionizes sports streaming by integrating ONEMap and ULL delivery with THEOlive. It offers a unified API, eliminating the need for multiple integrations with various video content providers. The ONEMap solution simplifies fixture mapping, enhancing presentation on sportsbook pages for increased turnover. iGame's neutral position allows collaboration with mainstream providers, enabling low-latency content delivery through partnerships like Infront Bettor. This streamlined workflow facilitates content ingestion, supports multiple access points, and renders content seamlessly on the ONEPlatform for customer use.

Chris Cousin: So I'm now going to talk about why, between THEO and iGame, our ONEPlatform is the sportsbook solution that we believe is required in the market today. So I'm going to go through my experience within that. 

So I'm a sportsbook operator. I can buy lots of video rights for betting on my sportsbook and I've got to buy that from a number of suppliers around the world. Ultimately, that will require multiple integrations to get access to that content. The ONEPlatform is a unique API that effectively has already integrated all of the mainstream providers and their video content in order to deliver a unified access point for operators who integrate.

So a customer will integrate with iGame, allows them access to the wider market without the need for multiple integrations. So we are effectively consolidating a lot of the tech debt that would exist by acquiring rights, but also as rights move from one provider to another provider, this sportsbook operator doesn't need to worry other than commercially negotiating the new deal; the access point is still retained, they don't need to think about a new integration. Alongside that, we have a ONEMap solution, which is essentially designed to aggregate all supplier IDs related to a fixture that is from a single source. Today, the market is effectively looking at five or six different independent sources to find who has the video, what's that ID?, Who has the scoreboard, what's that ID?, Who's providing prices, what's that ID?, and having to match up that common fixture with three to four different IDs around the industry, which ultimately leads to a poor mapping experience and resulting in certain fixtures not getting presented on a sportsbook page, which effectively removes the ability to generate turnover. 

So our position is because we are agile and sit in the middle neutral in our world, we work with all of these mainstream providers to offer our customers and their customers a simplified experience technically.

If we consider low latency, Infront Bettor is our key partner in launching their content portfolio all in low latency as the first operator or first provider to offer its content to operators in low latency format.

As a workflow, we work with with the rights holders like Infront and others and we will bring in their content onto our platform with an agnostic ingest platform that allows us to bring in all manners of content from IP, BT Tower, satellite; support the access point, we make that available on the one platform, as I mentioned, so that customers can render the content, they can map that content and effectively render it out on their sportsbook.

Why ONEPlatform?
The ONEPlatform simplifies content management for operators by offering a unified solution and player through THEOlive. Leveraging data analytics, iGame aims to increase average viewing time from 3-4 minutes to 8-12 minutes per stream, enhancing engagement and potential turnover. Their investment in data science informs decisions, allowing adjustments based on user behaviour. iGame's service provides low-latency streaming, analytics, and a consolidated solution for informed content acquisition decisions.

Chris Cousin: For the operators, they then get access to streamlining all of their content in one API source through a unified integration and the unified play out solution. If you ask yourself the question, if I own a sportsbook, do I want five or six different player variants for different types of content? No, I want one single solution that renders all content today. And that is effectively just clearing up the file sizes, the experience that they want their customers to have. Once you have access to a unified player solution through THEOlive, you can then expand your content, you can expand what you want to do with that player. And as Bart mentioned before, you can provide deep analytics on your users. What is happening? What is the experience? 

If I look at statistics, historically, You take a stream, the average viewing time of that stream may be three to four minutes for a 90 minute football match. What we want to do is be able to use data as a way to measure the ROI. If I can say that same stream through THEO has now generated eight to 12 minutes of an average viewing time, that's a significant increase in retention on a page, engagement with the stream, and potential turnover.

As a business, we invest heavily in data science. We really feel the value in data science from a consumption point of view. We want to be able to provide rights holders and customers with true analytical analysis on stream performance, return on investment, and what is working and what is not working.

We all have options to present global content on a sports book. Certain markets will react differently to certain operators. And therefore it's about being able to use the data to tell the story. And for us, it's about telling that end-to-end story that allows decisions to be made based on the cost of rights to the average viewing time to potential suggested metrics that we can leverage from the players from the THEOplayer that it's users metrics are providing. It also allows us to mold the development cycle if we see more activity appearing on iOS versus Android or different versions of Android of what we should be supporting and taking a holistic view of all data that comes in and farming out its respective use cases for different departments across commercial development technology and adapting based on what the data is telling us.

And that's part of our kind of the iGame standard; you join the service, you get access to not only the consolidated one platform solution, the ONEMap solution, you also get low latency by standard. Alongside that, you then get the streaming analytics through our kind of dashboard console in order to provide you with the real time up to date analysis of your content, the performance of that content, and your buying power decisions based on that performance.

So, I'm going to hand back to Bart now as we're going to go through some Q&A.


Bart Snoeks: Yeah, indeed. I hope that everything that we explained is clear. We definitely got a few interesting questions coming in Chris. Let me pick the first one.

How does low latency help the in-play betting product for operators? Can you maybe elaborate a bit more on that one? 

Chris Cousin: Yeah. So just to reiterate again, it's about page retention. We're not out there to provide any advantages to the user or the operator, we simply want to provide an experience as if they are at the venue. We want to be able to compliment the data that exists so that we're challenging that expression of watching highlights to actually watching the match as if I'm at the match.

So it's about complimenting what is existing, but updating the technology to match; the sophistication of data. 

Bart Snoeks:

How does THEOlive handle poor network conditions for a user to ensure smooth playback without sacrificing latency?

That's one that I can pick. So, technically ABR is fully implemented into the HESP protocol. Basically, we continuously monitor the network behavior that can be both client side, but we can also get instructions from the CDN server side to switch ABR. And as we have a continuation and an initialization stream, technically, in the HESP protocol, it makes us capable of switching, which Chris also mentioned at the start of the call; we can switch actually at any frame. So we don't have to wait for the next segments and fill the buffer on the player side. We can decide on the player with any ABR switch to immediately switch to another level, both up and down. It gives us a really good resistance on poor networks with that capability.

So I think that's mainly one of the reasons that we can achieve that smooth playback also on worse networks or when people are entering into a bad network mode. 

Chris Cousin: Well just to add to that, I think going back to my point about the consumer experience. We're removing the thought process of a consumer by providing the kind of adaptive nature of ABR, but also the front end messaging where the user's connection simply cannot render the stream. It puts the emphasis back on the consumer and not the brand reputation damage that potentially could be considered to date.

We want to be able to educate consumers through messaging and allow the technology to adapt as far as it can to the point where the user's connection cannot cope regardless.

Bart Snoeks: Definitely, definitely. Chris, a question for you. 

What about the end customers? How does low latency help them?

Chris Cousin: I think, similar to the first question, for us it's about the consumers. We want to improve through the data metrics an understanding as to what they're consuming, how long they're consuming the stream for, and how they're interacting with that stream. And then taking the metrics to develop better engagement services further, which could be as simple as overlays, it could be as we see on here, polls; creating solutions that allow the customer to make decisions on their betting activities through the power of video. So I think in the first iteration, we're sorting out the latency and then once we can establish ourselves through the analytics, we can then evolve the solution to expand data and video to live side by side and, you know, I think as simple as putting a poll out on a suggested bet for its audience allows us to to really maximize that engagement time. Okay. 


Bart Snoeks: 

Does a full media workflow consider transcoding, transmuxing, delivery, security, playback; all of it can be done with sub second expectation? Or are we taking parts of the workflow to be able to deliver the sub second expectation?

I can respond that one. So, within the end to end THEOlive solution, indeed, we can do that sub second latency. Moreover, we guarantee that from the input into our system up to the video playback. Of course, even when adding decent low latency contribution encoders, which provide a stable input to us in low latency, only taking like 10 to 40 milliseconds of ingest, we can even do that from the venue up to the video player. So by adding these types of contribution encoders, thinking about, for example,a matrix monarchy edge encoder, a high vision Makito encoder, they are really optimized for this 40 seconds of latency into the cloud delivery.

And then we can even achieve that sub second end to end. It's, of course, due to the HESP protocol that we can achieve this, we are not claiming here that this can be done with HLS and DASH or with the low latency versions of HLS and DASH, that's simply impossible. But end to end, yes, we can do that.

Yeah. And we have proven it in many events already in the past. So it's not something that we are just saying and we can actually show it to you and you can test it yourself. So that's not an issue. 

Question for Chris maybe 

Are there any limitations or compatibility considerations when integrating the ONEPlatform with existing sports betting platforms or technologies?

Chris Cousin: I suppose we have, we have an agile API. We work with a lot of different companies that join the network. So platform providers that operate managed trading for the companies on, you know, for the sports betting companies, they integrate with our API and we're agile enough to adapt but generally have created an API that is suitable to the current market expectations.

And our integration timeframes can be anything from 24 hours, which we've had one customer to maximum seven working days to get operational. And the beauty of what we offer is that when a customer calls for the live stream, they get to see very easily a THEO compatible stream that we've made available or an HLS stream, but equally they can render both formats through the universal play out solution of THEOlive.

Bart Snoeks: Other questions more technically as well. 

How does HESP live latency compare with DTT, DTH broadcast TV? 

One that I can pick up: typically in DTT, DTH broadcast TV, they are at around 4, 5, 6 seconds, depending country wise, but this is the typical latency. So they are more, let's say, into that space where low latency HLS or low latency DASH could deliver, typically between five to eight seconds.

With the THEOlive solution and HESP, we are really sub second, as Chris mentioned. We can control that latency and set the target latency for the player. Typically here, to sync with the data, we typically set this to one and a half to two seconds. So, yes, we are faster and that's also one of the reasons that next to the sports betting industry.

Also, a lot of other industries are looking into our THEOlive solution, like broadcasters and local operators, for example. Because they simply want to deliver regular sports streaming as the fastest in their country. And that's what they can do at scale with the THEO live solution as well.

So yes, we are faster compared to these solutions. 

What is the importance of live streaming compared to live data? I think we touched it already extensively, but maybe you want to wrap up on this one.

Chris Cousin: Yeah, I think it's important to recognize that the data business exists and has existed for a while.

There are thousands of scouts collecting data from venues all across the world, delivering match action as they see it in within one second. And it's that data that's powering the sportsbook offering. For us, it's about then providing a comparative solution through streaming because we don't want to create a solution where data provides everything to anybody.

We want to create an experience that complements the data service that exists. And I think for us, it's about we're now in a position where the technology can evolve on par with data. And it's been desperately needed for the industry for a while. If we can, if anyone who's old enough remembers flash back in the day, it's taken a long time to get to where we are today.

Bart Snoeks: Okay, very good.

What pain points have you seen from current companies using other low latency protocols like WebRTC or WebSockets?

We touched that as well, we see mainly issues, of course, on the end to end delivery. I'm not going to claim that there are companies out there with WebRTC who have done a lot of effort in scaling.

But typically they are not at the level of a CDN scale which we use. So that's clear, I think end to end, and it's, it's also your experience, Chris, as you guys have been working with WebRTC solutions in the past as well. So maybe you can, you can pitch in on this one as well.

Chris Cousin: Yeah, I think WebRTC as a function works perfectly in a closed network environment of B2B.

We've been operating with WebRTC for a number of years. We've recently moved to an alternative, but the point being is that you control your cost base. You control your audience when you have to dip your toe into a pool of untapped customer potential, where you have literally no idea what that's going to equate to.

From a cost point of view, if you have to preload X amount of servers in advance of a live event, you have no way of really controlling your cost. And for us, that's a big no, no, because ultimately it's the operators who will end up paying the premium for that service. And for us, we are very much wanting to provide effectively an upgrade to HLS that is not cost prohibitive.

This is a standard replacement to HLS and should be the default solution for the industry.

Bart Snoeks: To add on that, we see a lot of quality stuff we have converted actually over the past eight months since we launched the THEOlive solution. A lot of other customers outside of the sports betting industry as well who are using WebRTC solutions, and I'm thinking about live events, big on prem scaling for in venue experience, like the Formula One which we did in Saudi Arabia.

We also see stuff going on in the live casino space as well. So we have converted quite a lot and we see a lot of quality issues. Slow startup streams; we have converted an operator who was seeing like four seconds of black before the stream would actually start with the WebRTC solution. So typically, we have seen a lot of positive effects when they move to our THEOlive solution.

So, yeah, I think that's quite clear here. Maybe another one for you, Chris. 

Are there any ongoing efforts to expand the partner network and integrate with more leading rights holders? Can you provide some insights into the future road map of the ONEPlatform.

Chris Cousin: So I think we're already working with a majority of the mainstream rights holders that exist today.

The change that we're working towards is enabling their customers to get their content through our platform in low latency format. And I think  as an established network, we've got effectively 99% of the world's sports content providers on our platform. The next iteration is bringing operators to benefit from our low latency solution for the content that they've acquired from these current providers.

So, we will always expand our network offering. We will always look to support customer demands where they have content from various providers that aren't on our platform and want to streamline their access and that is an ongoing activity there's no kind of hidden secret there. We will always expand as we can, but what we want to effectively drive is content engagement through our platform for low latency, and that will require time and effort more than anything to move that goal post.

But as I mentioned, you know, in front of the first provider to get out there with low latency is for their content and we hope that others will follow. 

Bart Snoeks: Yeah, thank you. One question. 

You mentioned mobile first experience. What about Android TV and smart TV? 

Yes, we also have support. I touched briefly on Android TV, so we can, of course, play HESP on Android TV, which is typically a type of device which enters the market for telco operators as well.

By the way, the Amino box, as an example, is also both web based as well as Android based. So we can handle both there on that box. Smart TV, very similar, as the Web SDK was the first one to deliver, we can also cover smart TVs on, let's say, most important platforms like Tizen and LG WebOS.

So Tizen from Samsung, WebOS from LG, we can cover their playback as well. But I have to say that we cannot cover 2013, 2014 models, that would be way too far technology wise. But all the recent models starting at five and up, so 2019 would be a perfect fit to playback HESP. 

Although we didn't get any questions so far on smart TV, we're discussing it. I mean, for the sports betting market, not yet. But it's of course, yeah, a potential to use these types of platforms as well with HESP.

Why is low latency streaming so relevant for the betting market, Chris?

Chris Cousin: I think it's important to recognize that rights holders will sell their content and monetize their content through sportsbook operators.

Today, the challenge is, what is the value of that right in comparison to the potential turnover that's generated; where the stream is delayed and the engagement time is less, it's difficult to justify the cost per match as an example where the turnover generated is not on par with that, or there's no substantial connection to the stream and the revenue generated from the data.

And I think for us, that is an industry risk, right? For everyone concerned, it's around being able to tackle that risk and provide through data science and the analytics I mentioned, a full suite of analysis that demonstrates the value add that low latency brings. And I think streaming will always exist as it's engaging.

But I think it's about challenging 15 years worth of standard streaming service to the new world and effectively saying  this is your brand new iPhone that you expect to receive as part of your contract. And I think for us, the same applies for streaming; it's being able to demonstrate through data after the fact why its working for the sportsbook.

Bart Snoeks: Maybe take one interesting last question on the technical side. 

Are there any efforts to standardize HESP or make it an add on, on the DASH standard? 

I have to say, so HESP as such is a specification that is open, so you can go and read it on it's an IETF published spec, so you can fully read through it, we can share most probably also share that spec later on to all the webinar visitors. There are a lot of other companies who have integrated also this type of packaging protocol within the HESP Alliance.

So we have formed an alliance together with some other industry vendors that are implementing that protocol as well. So is it like an open source standard? No, but it is available to other companies who want to integrate it. 

Do we plan to put it as an add-on the DASH standard?

If I think that's more a question for the dash industry forum if they are willing to do this, yes or no. So it's less a question for us I think to make those decisions. 

Good. I think in general we can wrap up. I really want to thank you for all the interesting questions during the webinar.

I hope everything was clear and that you learned from this webinar, how we are changing this world. And let me, let me add the word to Chris, give the word to Chris to finish up with some of the key takeaways of this webinar.

Key Takeaways
Ultra-low latency in streaming creates new avenues for in-play betting opportunities. Its delivery enhances user engagement, ultimately driving revenue growth. Additionally, ultra-low latency ensures synchronization between live video and data, optimizing the overall streaming experience.

Chris Cousin: Yep. Thank you, Bart. And thank you everybody for your time. I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedules.

I hope you found it insightful and useful. I think for us, we are open for questions afterwards on  LinkedIn or email. And obviously if you can take away today, that we believe ultra low latency opens up the opportunity for more in play activity. We think it will increase user engagement for a sportsbook and potentially drive revenue.

But ultimately, more importantly, it will drive synchronization between an established data market and video that will lead to the engagement, will lead to the page retention that will effectively maximize the ROI that live streaming is costing today. 

Bart Snoeks: All right. Thanks everyone and see you next time


Chris Cousin: Cheers.

Back to top

The team behind the webinar

Bart S Rounded
Bart Snoeks
Account & Partnership Director @ THEO Technologies
Chris Cousin
Commercial Director @ iGameMedia

Want to deliver high-quality online video experiences to your viewers, efficiently?

We’d love to talk about how we can help you with your video player, low latency live delivery and advertisement needs. 

Talk with an Expert