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Until a few years ago, cable operators were the sole providers of entertainment services to consumers. However, with OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc., cable operators are limited to providing internet facilities and have no control over what users consume. Users can now sign up for OTT services to enjoy on-demand entertainment programs.
Today, let us deep-dive into technologies that are the foundation of OTT platforms, their working, and Amazon services leveraged to solve some significant OTT workflow challenges.
OTT Overview and its working
OTT stands for ‘Over the Top’ as it is delivered over another online platform. It is a medium through which television and film content is provided over the internet when requested by a consumer. Even though it is relatively new to the market, many companies are entering this space, citing the massive potential for growth in this area. It leads to a consumer having a wide variety of options to choose from, and marketers will see a substantial increase in ad inventory.
OTT technology is managed by OTT workflow software. To understand the working of OTT workflow, let us look at the various stages involved in the process.
Check Point 1: Encoding and Ingestion
At this point, the quality assessment algorithm VMAF (video multi-method assessment fusion) checks the ingested files for their reliability and if they are encoded following the standard acceptable by downstream systems. It is also ensured that no files are corrupted at this point.
Check Point 2: Transcoding
At this point, files received from previous checkpoints and input streams are converted into strings of outputs known as profiles. These streams or profiles go through:
1) Quality of Experience: here, streams are tested for their rate, loudness, syntax, loudness, etc
2) Adaptive Bit Rate: This enables seamless switching by ensuring frames are aligned according to the time for each profile.
Check Point 3: CDN
At this final testing point few more tests are performed:
1) Quality of service
2) Quality of experience
3) Entitlement check
4) Adaptive Bit Rate
5) Player control check
6) Apps and Analytics
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Challenges of OTT Streaming
- Improving Customer Experience with Real-time Network Monitoring
- Performance Challenges
- User-specific content
- Compute Contention and Distribute instances based on priority and workload
- Security Concerns
- Data Backup Systems
- Infrastructure Scaling & Maintenance
Introduction to AWS Media Services
The OTT solution has provided an extraordinary opportunity in the market. It is growing at an alarming rate and is becoming a crowded marketplace. Hence, companies must be cautious about their workflow before launching their services. Implementing cloud-based solutions and data analytics can avoid most of these challenges.
Amazon owns a 33% market share in providing cloud services. AWS media service helps to accelerate any production launch using the right tools and partners against the top five solutions areas such as:
- Production of Content
- Media supply chain and Archive
- DTC (Direct-to- customer) and streaming
- Using Data Science & Analytics
It will eventually lead to complete industry transformation from a customer point of view.
Architectural Diagram for Live Streaming on AWS
The two typical use cases of AWS Media Services are Video on Demand (VOD) and Live Streaming. The OTT live streaming solutions are cost-effective and deliver media content to a global audience in the cloud.
Below are some of the AWS Services leveraged for Live Streaming on AWS:
- Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) provides a scalable, highly available storage bucket required to host the encoded segments
- Amazon CloudFront: The CloudFront distribution delivers your live stream to the audience
- AWS Secrets Manager
- AWS Lambda and Serverless
A serverless framework allows the start-ups to automatically deploy using the solution’s implementation guide and accompanying AWS CloudFormation template. The CloudFormation template launches the AWS products required to ingest, transcode, and deliver the live streaming video.
In the next section, you will explore best-in-the-market AWS Media Service Solutions.
Before AWS, designing, testing, building, and deploying this infrastructure would have taken months or years. Once AWS has come into the picture, the whole process has become more accessible for the OTT platforms to set it up.
AWS Media Services Solutions
Today’s top OTT platforms use cloud technologies to run their business successfully. These broadcasters need to compute and storage needs that include databases, analytics, video transcoding, and many other functionalities to provide millions of customers with the best TV viewing experience.
As these media companies are working to reinvent the media pipeline, they need flexibility, scalability, and cloud security to protect their content.
No ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution can magically solve every single Video-On-Demand or Live Streaming problem. AWS has provided various services that are targeted toward solving OTT challenges.
- AWS Elemental MediaConvert: This service has broadcasting features to create video-on-demand (VOD) content for a larger audience and multi-screen delivery. The AWS Elemental MediaConvert Service leverages an AWS web services interface and simplifies building and operating video processing infrastructure. It follows the pay-as-you-go pricing model.
- AWS MediaLive: AWS Elemental MediaLive is a broadcast-grade live video processing service. We can deliver high-quality video streams to broadcasters and internet-connected multi-screen devices. This service encodes the live video from the ground in real-time, compressing larger source files into smaller versions for the viewer. It is a managed service that features high availability.
- AWS Elemental Media Package: AWS Elemental MediaPackage prepares and protects your video delivery over the internet. AWS Elemental MediaPackage creates multiple video streams formatted to play on internet-connected devices from a single source video input.
- AWS Elemental Media Connect: AWS Elemental MediaConnect is a high-quality live video transport service. Today, broadcasters and content owners rely on satellite networks or fiber connections to transmit their contents into the cloud or transmit it to partners for distribution. Unfortunately, these approaches are expensive, require long times to set up, and lack the flexibility to adapt to changing requirements.
Get insights into building a Scalable Media Platform in Cloud with AWS Media Services here.
Other popular AWS media services solutions are AWS Elemental Link, AWS Elemental Live, and AWS Elemental Media Store. Learn more about techniques to Personalize Virtual Viewing Experience with AWS Elemental Link here.
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Drop a query if you have any questions regarding AWS Media Services and I will get back to you quickly.
WRITTEN BY Prarthit Mehta
Prarthit Mehta is the Business Unit Head-Cloud Consulting at CloudThat. He is an AWS ambassador and has experience delivering solutions for customers from various industry domains. He also holds working experience in AWS and Big data platforms. He is an AWS Certified Architect - Professional and a certified Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect.