Video Streaming: It’s only the beginning! Part 1 of 3

Consumers’ insatiable appetite for videos over the internet is undeniable. Live prime-time events are increasing in frequency and in bandwidth demand. But is today’s network technology robust enough to handle this growing demand for online videos?

In this three-part blog series, we explore the video growth explosion, and look at how network operators can arm themselves to deliver high-quality videos streams, reduce churn, and attract new customers.

Part 1: Over IP, Video Will Grow – An Analysis of OTT Video Growth

There is no doubt that video watching over IP networks, aka OTT IP TV, is on the rise.

The overall internet video traffic (consumed from smartphones, tablets, computers and connected TVs) will represent a staggering 82% of the entire internet traffic by 2022, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index. The global data traffic is expected to double between 2017 and 2022 from 122 EBytes to 396 EBytes per month. In 2022 a human being will consume in average 40 Gbytes in video streaming per month (or 10 HD 2-hour movies per month).

Today, more than 60% of all downstream traffic in Mobile Networks is video. Network and mobile phone streaming resolution is becoming better and better. The most common resolution used in mobile streaming is estimated to be 480p. Nevertheless, 720p and 1080p are the more and more common (Ericsson Mobility report 2019). By 2020 half of all TV and video viewing will be done on a mobile screen: a quarter from smartphones.

Linear TV represents about 58% of the total video (VoD + Linear) viewing worldwide according to Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions 2018 from Deloitte. In 2022, Live Linear TV traffic will represent average 17.1% of the total Internet traffic worldwide, a growth of 15-fold from 2017 to 2022 (Cisco VNI Index). This means an average of 5 hours of live scheduled Television per month per human being.

Additional video traffic comes from social-media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope. Live video, specifically, is set to be the fastest growing segment thanks to video offerings like Facebook Live, Twitter’s broadcast of live sports and live over-the-top bundles from companies like AT&T, YouTube and Hulu.

To put things in perspective, we can look at the impact video giants have on global internet traffic. Netflix for example, consumes 15% of the total mobile downstream volume of traffic globally, according to the latest Global Internet Phenomena Report from Sandvine. In the United States, that figure is 19.1% of total traffic. YouTube reports that mobile video consumption rises 100% every year.

It is difficult to predict what else will contribute to the increase in video traffic in the near future. We can already see the growing importance of streaming in the gaming industry, and the IoT and video surveillance markets. The upcoming Next-Gen TVs, which are IP based, will considerably increase video traffic starting in 2020, when ATSC 3.0 will be deployed in major markets across the US. Even though VR and AR are still nascent technologies, we can be sure that their impact on the video streaming traffic will be substantial. Meanwhile, public safety agencies are planning to use video more extensively with new Mission-Critical applications and infotainment in moving vehicles is predicted to further open the video floodgates.

The most popular thinking is that 5G networks, more efficient antennas, machine learning, video streaming compression technology and AI to improve automation & indexing along with more CDN deployments, can handle most of this traffic increase. But only to a certain point.

What these statistics, and hence the technology, don’t account for, are the next immensely popular live events, which have traditionally brought the internet to its knees, and will continue to do so at an increasing rate and frequency. In our next blog, we will analyze these video peaks and discuss their impact on network traffic and video quality.