Adaptive Bit Rate: ABR

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  • December 18th, 2020
  • According to various statistics about the increase in viewership of online video platforms, it is believed that 70% of the younger generation have subscribed to some of the best OTT platforms in the world. And they are enjoying watching videos or listening to audio content. But, what if the quality of video content is low? Can you enjoy watching video content with poor streaming quality? The fact is, over 50% of the viewers’ exit from watching videos in less than 90 seconds if the streaming quality is low. Thus, streaming with poor user experience will strongly affect the broadcasting business owners. Therefore, this is the point where Adaptive Bitrate Streaming (ABR) comes into the picture. So, let’s understand the concept of Adaptive Streaming.

    What is Adaptive Bitrate Streaming? Adaptive Bitrate Streaming, also abbreviated as ABR is a concept or technology designed to deliver the highest video quality and better viewing experience to the user. It can dynamically adjust the video quality for the user’s device, bandwidth, and network conditions and deliver effective streaming performance.

    Is this technical info confusing to you? Let’s consider an example for a detailed understanding of the concept. When you want to watch any web series or a movie on the OTT platform and hit a play button on the video, it automatically starts playing at a particular speed or rate. Consider a user owns a high-resolution device then the quality of the video will depend on the bandwidth and internet connection. Sometimes, while watching a video, we observe a change in the quality of the video. We notice a faint picture due to poor internet connection, and when the problem with internet congestion is resolved, the quality of the video gets back to normal. An ABR enabled OTT platform continues video streaming in this style without buffering based on the bandwidth and the bitrate. For your information, buffering means a discontinuity or distorted or frames of a still picture visible with distorted audio sound. The whole concept of adaptive bitrate streaming lies in adapting to the conditions to deliver the best user experience.

    Before we further discuss adaptive bitrate streaming or adaptive streaming, let’s understand progressive streaming and the issues related to it.

    Progressive Streaming: Progressive streaming is defined as the streaming of a single video content file over the internet. That means, in progressive video streaming, only a single video file format, say a .mp4 file can be streamed and not the other video file formats. Therefore, the video streaming of only .mp4 file format on the different device sizes will be compressed or stretched accordingly. In this case, the quality of the video gets affected as the file size is the same, and the device size and resolution changes. For instance, a video file of 720 x 480 px is played on the screen resolution of 1280 x 720 px, then the quality of the video will pixelate.

    Furthermore, when you are watching a movie or a series on an OTT platform, you might suddenly come across video pausing or buffering. It occurs due to an unstable internet connection. Hence, the video will not be downloaded or streamed until more data is retrieved. Therefore, it results in an ultimate patience tester for the user and delivers a poor streaming experience.

    So, to resolve or overcome these issues in progressive streaming, Adaptive bitrate streaming should be enabled on an OTT platform. Now, let’s get into the detailed information of the role of ABR in an OTT platform, how Adaptive bitrate streaming solves the issues of progressive streaming.

    Role of ABR in an OTT Platform: – The main role of Adaptive Bitrate Streaming (ABR) in an OTT platform is to manage the quality issues while streaming the video content. This technology allows the video content provider to create and upload different videos that fit different screen sizes. The video provider need not consider the screen resolutions of various devices to creates video content files. A screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 px will have a video content file with the same size 1920 x 1080 px. Similarly, for screen resolutions like 1280 x 720 px, 854 x 480 px, 426 x 240 px; the video files with sizes 1280 x 720 px, 854 x 480 px, 426 x 240 px will be streamed respectively. Therefore, the video content will not get pixelated and can be played on any targeted device.

    The second issue that can be resolved through the concept of ABR is buffering. When the user is unable to watch a video being played continuously, the user will notice buffering due to a poor internet connection. Since most of the videos play at a rate of 24 frames per second, the internet connection on the user’s device has to download 24 frames per second to avoid buffering. Here, Adaptive bitrate streaming technology can adapt to the speed of the internet connection and maintains continuous streaming of the video content. (Technically, the unit for bitrate in bits per second. Content in the form of too many packets flows into the device. These packets contain content in the form of bits. And the rate at which these bits travel is bitrate). This technology enables the user to experience an uninterrupted video streaming service since ABR allows switching the packets from larger to smaller and vice versa.

    Therefore, for any OTT platform, Adaptive bitrate streaming (ABR) has turned out to be an essential feature that can deliver an optimum streaming experience to the viewer. Furthermore, LAVIO is renowned as one of the best OTT platforms that are power-packed with robust features along with Adaptive bitrate streaming and thus, deliver an uninterrupted streaming experience to the viewers.