We, in most cases, have Adaptive Bitrate Streaming working for us while enjoying audio/video content on an OTT platform. However, not every viewer is technically aware of the fact that it is working behind the scenes. And this is exactly what it is meant to do, not let any scope for the viewer to have an interrupted streaming experience (which would otherwise be a matter of concern) and to let viewers doubt if anything is wrong with the streaming platform.
In this blog, we will discuss the generic concept of Adaptive Bitrate Streaming for having a basic understanding of it.
What is Adaptive Bitrate Streaming?
Adaptive bitrate streaming, abbreviated as ABR, basically refers to the ability of a video player to adjust the quality of a video dynamically according to the available bandwidth, network conditions, and user’s device performance. To sum all of these, adaptive bitrate streaming allows seamless content quality switching which is not supported by progressive video playback.
Now, what’s that? Let’s get to know it first to make our understanding easier as ABR happens to resolve issues created in progressive streaming.
In progressive video streaming, a single video content file, mostly in an .mp4 format, is streaming all over the Internet. However, other video formats can be used too. This video file can be compressed as well as stretched according to the screen size of different devices.
That is supposed to be a good feature, isn’t it?
Remember we had mentioned that progressive streaming comes with an issue? Well, as the size of the video file remains the same, the quality of video gets affected when played on a screen that has higher or lower resolution.
So, basically a video of 720 x 480px will pixelate when played on a screen of resolution 1280 x 720px.
To know more about video resolutions, check out our blog on “SD, HD, AND 4K- Streaming Resolutions Explained”.
The next issue associated with progressive streaming is buffering, i.e. video pausing in between streaming. This is one situation that most of us have encountered at least once in our lifetime.
It mostly happens when the user has unstable internet connection. The video stream is not downloaded at a faster rate resulting in a halt in the video till more data is fetched for further streaming.
This is the ultimate patience tester for a viewer and eventually leads to bad streaming experience and subsequent churn. Want to know more about how to have low churn on your streaming platform??
Check out our blog on OTT Churn Management Strategy: How to maintain a low OTT churn rate like Netflix.
Role of Adaptive Bitrate Streaming in resolving streaming issues
Adaptive bitrate streaming resolves streaming quality issues by allowing the content provider to create videos for all screen sizes. Video files are created as per the corresponding screen resolution of every device. This ensures that the video played on any targeted device does not get pixelated.
Now let’s talk about ABR resolving the buffering issue.
The internet connection on the viewer’s device has to download at least 24 frames per second as most video content files play at the same rate.
And as the name suggests, adaptive bitrate streaming adapts the video play to the speed of the available internet connection (bitrate technically means bits per second transferred to a device).
It will then simply keep switching from playing smaller to a larger video file of the same content and vice versa to maintain an uninterrupted streaming.
Adaptive bitrate streaming has turned out to be the most essential capability of a player for delivering optimum streaming experience. If you own a streaming channel or plan to launch one, the first thing that you need to look for is if your player supports adaptive bitrate streaming.
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