User experience plays a critical role when you’re offering any service, and the same applies to a video streaming service like an OTT app. If your users don’t have a good experience in engaging with your platform, they’ll likely abandon it and move to another one.
One of the major factors that can affect this experience is your stream quality. A study found that users abandon poor quality streams within 90 seconds. So, it’s essential that you maintain the quality of your stream.
Now, here’s the deal — network bandwidth and connections can fluctuate throughout the day on the user’s end. This can lead to poor streaming quality, and that’s where you’d need adaptive bitrate streaming. It can help improve your video quality even when network speeds take a dip.
So, let’s first understand what is adaptive bitrate streaming and then look at the best practices for it.
What is Adaptive Bitrate (ABR) Streaming?
The bitrate of a video stream is the speed at which the video data is being transferred to the viewer’s device and it’s measured in Mbps (megabits per second). A higher bitrate is good for the video quality but if it surpasses their bandwidth, then the video might start buffering. Buffering is undesirable as the video will stop playing and this can hamper the customer experience. That’s where adaptive bitrate streaming can help.
In it, the video player detects fluctuations in the internet connectivity and automatically upgrades or downgrades the stream’s bitrate in real-time. This can effectively help you avoid the buffering phase and offer continuous streaming to your users.
So, let’s now take a look at some of the best practices that you can implement for adaptive bitrate streaming.
Adaptive Bitrate Streaming - Best Practices
Here are the best practices for adaptive bitrate streaming.
1. Powerful ABR Ladder
To go about adaptive bitrate streaming effectively, you need to design a powerful streaming profile or ABR ladder. This ladder includes all the various bitrates, resolutions, codecs, etc. that you’d use for each type of network, device, and speed.
The better your ladder is, the more efficiently will your video player change the bitrate to suit the user’s network and device. You could adjust the video dimensions, frame rate, keyframe, audio bitrate, and total bitrate based on the network speed.
For example, here’s an ABR ladder that Apple designed.
Image via AT&T
2. Leverage a Video Hosting Platform
When you want to start a video streaming service, one of the main things that you should consider is that of your choice of online video platform. The platform that you choose will determine how effectively your videos would be streamed.
You should look out for platforms that offer adaptive bitrate streaming to elevate your user experience. Additionally, it takes all the hard work out of the picture as your video hosting service will be better placed to handle adaptive bitrate streaming’s effectiveness. We, at MAZ, offer a reliable hosting solution with ABR capabilities so that you can provide the best user experience on your OTT app.
3. Fix Top Tracks for Networks
When you’re dealing with high-quality playback, you need to figure out the various parameters that you’d allow for each network. For instance, with cellular networks, you should decide if you want to go for 30 fps or 60 fps.
The reason here being that you’d want to conserve the user’s cellular data and use it efficiently. On the other hand, you can afford to be more lenient when it comes to Wi-Fi networks.
ABR Streaming for Your Audience
Adaptive bitrate streaming is a great way to ensure that your users don’t have to face the buffering symbol while watching content on your platform. To ensure that it’s implemented properly, you must build a powerful ABR ladder and also fix the top track for each network type.