NAB 2024 Made the Case for WebRTC Streaming


A lot of things are labeled historic these days, but it’s no exaggeration to suggest the M&E industry reached a milestone in April when every major theme at the National Association of Broadcasters Show spotlighted the need for affordable, massively scalable real-time streaming solutions. Cost-conscious discourse dominating the exhibit halls and conference rooms focused on… Continue reading NAB 2024 Made the Case for WebRTC Streaming

A lot of things are labeled historic these days, but it’s no exaggeration to suggest the M&E industry reached a milestone in April when every major theme at the National Association of Broadcasters Show spotlighted the need for affordable, massively scalable real-time streaming solutions.

Cost-conscious discourse dominating the exhibit halls and conference rooms focused on finding better approaches to monetizing content and services in the crowded video marketplace, especially when it comes to capitalizing on the shift to live programming in the streaming domain. The need for IP streaming technology supporting multidirectional transfers of video and other assets at real-time speeds was a given underlying pursuit of these goals across all major topics of discussion, including:

  • cloud production and contribution playout to distributors,
  • ways to capitalize on the benefits of AI in metadata creation and use of stored data in feature enrichment,
  • personalization of user experiences,
  • socializing streamed services,
  • new service development across a vast range of targeted applications, from microbetting to interactive e-commerce, multiplayer gaming, and networked implementations of artificial, virtual, and mixed reality technologies.

A dazzling display of technological innovations in all these arenas left no doubt that a new era in engagement with consumers is in reach for an M&E industry that now finds itself anchored in internet technology. But all this progress in the supply chain left unanswered the question hanging over everything: How can we use these advances to maximum effect if we have no choice but to rely on the dominant streaming infrastructure or proprietary transport alternatives that weren’t designed for a real-time marketplace?

Offering Red5’s answer to that question kept us hopping. Over four days of interactions with visitors to our demonstrations and in executive meetings on and off the show floor we made it clear that the interactive real-time streaming support everyone needs is available from Red5’s WebRTC-based platform at costs that make it possible to put all these solutions to work with ROI outcomes everyone is looking for.

And it wasn’t just M&E folks who were searching for answers. Word that Red5’s real-time streaming solution is operating in multiple fields drew a team of government officials to our demonstrations. They asked us a lot of questions without revealing their use cases, but we had a pretty good idea of what they had in mind.

Our Experience Delivery Network (XDN) streaming platform is used by police and fire departments, public transportation and traffic administrators, and branches of the military to enable simultaneous analysis of multiple video feeds aggregated and delivered in real time to control centers from cameras arrayed over land, on drones, and under water. We had no problem providing our tight-lipped visitors the answers they were looking for.

Red5 PoC Demos Illuminated the Way Forward

More generally, our NAB Show presence was focused on making the case that, when all factors in the cost-benefit equations impacting top-of-mind M&E industry agendas are taken into account, the need for real-time interactive video streaming support should no longer be an impediment to meeting core goals.

The point was underscored by our appearance as a featured partner with two NAB exhibitors that provide solutions essential to moving production to the cloud: Nomad Media, supplier of an advanced asset management platform widely used in cloud migration, and Zixi, whose Software-Defined Video Protocol (SVDP) has long been a mainstay in broadcast-quality video transport over IP networks that link disbursed participants in cloud production and connect output from production and playout centers to producers’ distribution affiliates.

We teamed with both partners in their booth spaces to show how customers can bring these industry-leading content management and transport capabilities into play with Red5 to support real-time video connectivity across all end points in production and postproduction workflows and in playout to distributors. The demonstrations also featured the compact, high-capacity encoding platform from Videon, another Red5 partner, which provided transcoding support for content ingested into Red5 streams.

We also demonstrated how our TrueTime Multiview solution makes it possible for anyone in distributed production workflows to instantly switch from one full screen rendering to another across any array of thumbnail displays, which we exemplified using a 4×6 matrix of stored content and live camera feeds from inside and outside the exhibit hall. This and many other real-time streaming capabilities, such as using advances in AI to find and pull data from any cloud storage location or linking remote commentators and influencers to live productions, are table stakes in the shift to cloud production.

Solidifying the Case for Live Cloud Production

When it comes to fully executing on the promise of cloud-based live content production, arguably the most dominant item on the industry’s to-do list, Red5’s inauguration of Red5 Cloud as a curated real-time platform service has opened what growing numbers of users and suppliers recognize as the most viable way forward. Red5 Cloud has significantly cut the costs of deploying XDN architecture by eliminating the time and staff resources that would otherwise be expended on calculating, configuring, and setting up the streaming infrastructure.

Red5 Cloud employs the intelligent orchestration processes of the XDN Stream Manager to execute those tasks in response to users’ input of basic use case requirements, such as how many streaming instances are involved, optimum bitrates, and number of end users. This gives customers immediate access to real-time streaming infrastructure matched to their needs with the ability to trigger adjustments in their set-ups with simple inputs on their Red5 Cloud dashboards.

With support for end-to-end video connectivity at sub-400ms speeds across all locations, Red5 Cloud removes any lingering doubts about the cost effectiveness of capturing the full benefits of real-time streaming. The cost/benefit case is especially strong in production and playout where fewer XDN points of ingestion (Origin Nodes), egress (Edge Nodes) and, if needed, midway points (Relay Nodes) are involved compared to the mass market distribution leg linking millions of end users. Notably, the real-time playout advantage applies to long-haul scenarios where producers of live content want to capitalize on IP transport as a low-cost alternative to satellite and dedicated fiber.

From the production perspective, the automated approach to capitalizing on the capabilities of XDN architecture is a much-needed breakthrough for sports and other live production scenarios. Without a cost-effective way to utilize real-time connectivity between cameras capturing on-field action and studios or other remote production locations it’s been impossible for event producers to eliminate the need for big on-site production set-ups.

Now, with Red5 Cloud in play, that’s no longer the case. The migration to cloud production in sports is getting underway with a top-tier professional league we can’t name. They’re starting with activation of XDN architecture to support real-time sharing of archived video in multiple use cases tied to internal operations.

A Winning Cost/Benefit Equation at Any Scale

At the same time, that league and many other sports organizations have been working with Red5 to enable public in-venue user experiences, including multiviewing,of action from different camera angles, user-activated replays on those feeds, and personalized feature enhancements. These producers are discovering that, with Red5’s real-time streaming support, they can deliver these benefits free of the audio echo effect that turns viewers off when sound from on-site speakers reaches their smartphones ahead of the streamed audio.

Critically, while real-time invigoration of on-site viewing experiences is important in its own right, the story doesn’t end there. We now know that the growing embrace of this strategy by service providers and sports producers is also serving as a launchpad for extensions of these viewing experiences to the entire online population.

Indeed, multiviewing as a live-event streaming feature was a major theme whenever sports services were discussed at the NAB Show. While various attempts to finally bring this long-envisioned benefit to end users were touted in Las Vegas, a close look at what can and can’t be done revealed that none measure up to the instantaneous access to an unbounded number of camera feeds enabled by TrueTime Multiview.

Another major NAB Show theme tied to the need for real-time interactive streaming centered on service providers’ efforts to socialize viewing experiences beyond the limitations imposed by text-based watch parties. Here again, the discussion was dominated by sports, where producers are searching for ways to increase Z-generation engagement.  

This and other use cases calling for advances in streaming support were explored at an exhibit hall conference session titled “Getting Real about Real-Time Streaming,” which drew a wide range of executives whose businesses depend on the prevailing one-way HTTP-based streaming infrastructure. The session marked the first time an NAB Show event has been devoted to this topic, but it won’t be the last. We understand plans are taking shape for a deeper dive into the implications of real-time streaming at next year’s show.

At this event, amid a diversity of opinions on practical and technical considerations, there was unanimous agreement on what session leaders described as baseline requirements for real-time streaming, including:

  • end-to-end latency at or below 500ms in all directions at any distance,
  • scalability to at least one million simultaneous viewers with support for interactive video engagement on the part of at least 1,000 audience members at any one time,
  • support for server-side ad insertions, feature personalization and other current streaming functionalities,
  • support for features and video interactivity beyond the reach of conventional streaming,
  • TV-caliber A/V quality with support for robust security (DRM, watermarking).

Nor was there any disagreement on the assertion that there’s no way at this point in time to meet these requirements without reliance on WebRTC-based streaming.

This year’s NAB Show made clear the priorities on M&E strategists’ minds add up to a growing market demand for new streaming infrastructure. It came as no surprise that our message touting Red5 Cloud as a WebRTC-based platform that meets or surpasses all requirements was well received.

We’ll be making sure that message gets out to the fullest extent possible in the months ahead. To learn more about the tools and solutions available from Red5 set up a call or contact us