Quality assurance key for OTT success

Discover how Rohde & Schwarz’s new cloud-based OTT monitoring solution - R&S PRISMON.cloud - helps providers easily adapt their monitoring infrastructure.

Quality assurance key for OTT success
Quality assurance key for OTT success

The cloud allows for revolutionary gains in speed, flexibility, and collaboration, with the industry on a fast track to deploying workflows for VOD and live events. Public and private cloud services are being used as well as hybrid solutions which combine on-premises storage with media processing and layers of AI and analytics in the data centre. There are many benefits for doing so from serving audiences richer more personalised and interactive content to operational cost savings realised by new pay-as-you-go business models.

It’s little wonder that NAB2019 was awash with new product and service launches based on the technology.

However, competition in the SVOD market is increasingly fragmented and intense, putting an onus on service providers to secure and sustain the attention of consumers. For this to be possible they must guarantee a consistent Quality of Experience (QoE) to ensure the highest quality streaming while still reducing operational costs and complexity.

As the market moves to event-based business models where consumers are paying to view a specific event – such as a boxing match or a music concert – effective real-time monitoring of the distribution chain is deemed essential. Without it, service providers are open to real reputation damage, even involving class action lawsuits, as (in)famously happened to Showtime following the Floyd Mayweather Vs. Conor McGregor fight in 2017.

Video issues can crop up at multiple locations in the end to end chain, and usually when one bottleneck is isolated, the next will soon spring up. Fluctuating and peak demand can cause unpredictable results, especially where the third party content delivery networks are being used to deliver other voice, data and video at the same time. Using multiple CDNs can facilitate this, but the bottleneck may just move to the access networks, where it’s not so easy to dynamically switch suppliers.

The challenge of figuring out where the video feed is going wrong is highly complex, and takes a combination of passive monitoring and active testing to test the availability of the streams in different regions. Ideally, an early warning system for video problems would flag issues like bad picture quality, accessibility errors, buffering and outages. This includes testing immediately after the content is produced and packaged, and then periodically at multiple geographic locations after it leaves the CDN (in data centres, on premise or in the cloud). Sampled coverage testing at the edge of access networks, whether broadband cable, Wi-Fi or cellular must also be part of the matrix.

The important part is to put a system in place that can monitor and test before the event to make sure everything is solid, and then during the event to provide an early warning system across the end to end delivery chain, and also across multiple geographic regions and access networks.

In other words, the whole system should be self-aware, probing all aspects of the stream to provide an efficient early warning of distribution faults, so service providers don’t have to wait until they start to receive complaints from viewers.

Rohde & Schwarz has just done this with a new cloud-based OTT monitoring solution that broadcasters and content providers can deploy quickly and without dedicated hardware.

R&S PRISMON.cloud was designed to enable OTT providers to easily adapt their monitoring infrastructure, for example when peak loads during the transmission of large events require extended service. A live multiview function, automated analysis of audio/visual data and error assignment in real time make it possible to permanently measure the QoS, store it in a cloud and visualise it in a timeline format on a web interface.

In combination with the on-premise R&S PRISMON monitoring solution, analysis data from physical and virtual sensors can be displayed on a single dashboard. End-to-end analyses quickly and easily reveal errors such as deterioration of video or audio quality, or poor CDN performance as a cause of churn – with just one tool.

What’s more, as a monitoring as a service (MaaS), it allows users to reduce investment costs by ordering their individual monitoring services based on current requirements.

Permanent error monitoring and the resulting quality assurance, especially of audio and video data, are the key to high customer satisfaction and a win in the intense SVOD battle that lies ahead.

Posted by Adrian Pennington, technology journalist. April 17, 2019.

R&S®PRISMON.cloud

R&S®PRISMON.cloud

Designed for cloud based analysis of media streams delivered OTT to consumers this monitoring-as-a-service solution expands the view of professional media companies outside their own premises.

  • Browser driven deployment of cloud instances
  • Automatic analysis of media stream with real time fault detection
  • Easy to deploy with set up wizard
  • Highly flexible use models for event driven usage peaks

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