A recent study has revealed that 40% viewers stop watching videos if there’s too much buffering. This means that nowadays producing interesting content is not enough anymore. You need to make sure that your content is delivered to the users in excellent quality and without any delays.
If you want to deliver heavy video content to anywhere in the world, using CDN is a must. It is very important to choose a reliable provider that is familiar with the branch and provides all the necessary features.
Last winter, we discussed how you can avoid common mistakes when choosing a CDN provider. Now let’s find out what CDN should be able to do to deliver video content in 2021.
When a browser needs to display some information on the user’s screen, it sends a request to the server where the information is stored, receives a response, and then displays the data on the screen. The further the server is located from the user, the more time will be needed to send the request.
This results in increased video loading time if you show VOD and in longer delays if you show online broadcasts.
The problems that may arise when video content is delivered without using CDN are:
CDN consists of numerous points of presence (cache servers) that are connected with each other and accelerate data delivery to the user. Cache servers are usually located as closely to the users as possible. They fetch content from the source server during the first request, cache it, and deliver it to all the subsequent users.
CDN speeds up video loading, reduces delays, and increases your service fault tolerance.
If a video is watched by millions of viewers at the same time, the source server gets immensely overloaded. If you are using CDN, the traffic gets evenly distributed between the points of presence. The video stream doesn’t get buffered and remains available. As a result, your audience are happy.
Thus, CDN solves the existing problems and opens up new streaming opportunities:
Yet CDN can only be helpful if it supports the most important streaming-relevant features and meets all the necessary criteria.
The choice of CDN mostly depends on the peculiarities of your project:
For example, if you are planning to host online broadcasts, low latency rate will be one of the most important criteria for you. CDN should provide Low Latency Streaming, with the delays not exceeding 4 seconds. This means that the content is supposed to reach the viewers in such a short time.
We’ve created a short checklist containing the main criteria that you need to pay attention to when choosing a content delivery network to use. Yet you should always remember your goals. Some of our criteria will be crucial for you, whereas others may be less important.
The first thing to consider when choosing a CDN is the number of points of presence and peering partners. This parameter is important not only for video content delivery but also if you deliver any other content type.
It is especially important for streaming services because video content is very sensitive to delays.
Consider the points of presence located in the regions that are important to you. If most of your viewers live in Europe, your CDN must provide excellent coverage in that region. The more cache servers there are, the more reliable your network will be. Traffic will get evenly distributed across the nodes, and your servers will be able to cope with any load.
The number of peering partners is also important as it influences the network connectivity. The more peering partners there are, the higher the speed and the shorter the delays.
G-Core Labs CDN has over 90 points of presence worldwide and over 6,000 peering partners. Our network is represented on all continents except Antarctica and was awarded a Guinness World Record for the greatest number of simultaneous online players on a single MOG server.
To successfully deliver videos without delays, CDN must support the required protocols.
Here is a list of the main technologies that provide fast video delivery to the users.
HLS (HTTP Live Streaming). This is a video delivery protocol that splits the stream into small chunks and sends them to the users. While one segment is being played, the others get loaded into a temporary storage. This makes it possible to play the entire video smoothly without any slowdowns.
MPEG-DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP). This is an adaptive streaming protocol. Just like HLS, it divides the video into chunks and delivers it in parts.
Our CDN supports both protocols.
Both protocols use the adaptive bitrate technology (ABR). Several streams of different quality are created. They are sent to the viewers depending on the user device capabilities and on the current Internet speed. The video is available without buffering even if the Internet connection is poor.
CDN delivers streams of any quality. During the playback, it chooses the variant that best suits the current conditions and the Internet speed.
We’ve enlisted the standard protocols supported by many providers. Yet if you need to achieve a very low latency rate, you need to use advanced solutions.
Find out which latency rate the provider can guarantee, how short the delays really are, and which technologies are used to achieve such results.
For example, G-Core Labs CDN uses HTTP 1.1 CTE and Chunked CMAF. We also develop our own speed improvement software.
HTTP 1.1 CTE (Chunked Transfer Encoding). This is one of the existing HTTP protocols, a new Low Latency Streaming standard. It allows delivery of new parts of the last chunk to the user as soon as they arrive from the transcoding servers.
For this technology to work effectively, you need to ensure that the chunks are instantly delivered from the source server to the user through the CDN, and that no unnecessary traffic is created at the source server.
We were able to achieve this thanks to our own developments. As a result, we are using CTE as efficiently as possible and achieve a very low latency rate.
Chunked CMAF (Chunked Common Media Application Format). This is a video delivery format applied when using MPEG-DASH.
The stream is divided into very small chunks for seamless video playback. The minimum chunk length is 200 ms.
Our own developments for delivering video via CDN. In addition to using ready-made solutions, we also refine our own developments.
For example, our developments allow us to balance the load between video processing clusters and deliver content from the source server to the CDN immediately after the new chunks arrive.
Thanks to all these technologies, you will be able to broadcast video content to millions of users with minimum latency that doesn’t exceed ±4 seconds.
If you are broadcasting an important online event, it can be watched by millions of users at the same time. This overloads the source server immensely.
CDN reduces this load by distributing the traffic among the cache servers. But thousands of requests can come to the source server from different locations simultaneously.
Shielding is used to protect the server from overload and increase content delivery speed.
This is a special technology gathering all requests to the source server on a transitional cache server. In this case, the source server interacts with one transitional node instead of interacting with the entire network. The server receives fewer requests, and processing them and returning the necessary information gets faster. This reduces the server load and increases the response rate.
Our CDN has a shielding option as well. You can use it for an additional fee.
Read more about this technology in our article “4 reasons to try the updated shielding”.
If you want your video content to be delivered to the users via CDN without delays and failures, you need to configure caching properly. This is especially important for online broadcasts.
It’s great if the CDN has special presets and ready-made templates allowing you to configure your stream in just a few clicks.
For example, we have a dedicated Live Streaming preset. All you need to do is enable it in the website settings, and the system will automatically apply the optimal parameters to online broadcasts. No manual configuration is needed.
We also have templates for caching playlists and chunks. If the video content is delivered using HLS, it is important to set the caching time correctly.
The best thing to do is to cache playlists for 1–2 seconds. In this case, outdated chunks will never be shown to the viewers.
As for caching chunks, the optimal time is 1 minute. The viewers may have a poor Internet connection, and while they are watching a chunk from one playlist, the source server may start playing the next playlist. If there are no chunks from the old playlist in the cache, some parts of the video won’t reach the audience.
Our CDN allows you to use templates instead of setting the caching time manually. This will help you set the required parameters in just a few clicks.
These presets save your time and allow you to start video streaming as early as possible.
For more information about presets and streaming templates, read to our article “How to quickly set up streaming via CDN”.
A good CDN used for video streaming should support modern technologies that will protect your videos from illegal viewing and copying. For this purpose, using standard features such as SSL certificates won’t be enough.
CORS headers are a fairly effective protection method. This technology allows you to restrict the number of domains that will have access to your website. Your content will be unavailable for all the other domains.
Another good way is to use Tokenization and Signed URLs. These are secure single-use links that help you prevent unauthorized views and protect your content against illegal copying.
Our CDN supports both of these technologies.
This feature is very important if you want to optimize the budget spent on video content delivery via CDN. Limiting video loading speed will help you reduce bandwidth and cut costs.
Maximum speed and maximum bandwidth are needed only at the beginning of the video, when it is important to deliver the chunks as quickly as possible in order to enable the users to start watching your video.
When the video is already playing, slower speed is enough, but if no one is restricting the speed, CDN continues sending as much data as possible. The chunks are added to the temporary storage, and the resources partly go wasted.
This feature is also very useful if you need to differentiate your audience, e.g., if you want to provide some of your users with faster video delivery while keeping the other group of users at a slow pace. For example, this may be the case if you provide content by subscription and offer a paid and a free plan. On the paid plan, the speed should be at its maximum, and on the free plan the speed may be lower.
Our CDN allows you not only to limit the content delivery speed but also to adapt limitation settings to your needs. We have created this option specifically for the needs of our clients.
To learn more about how you can limit content loading speed, read our article “How to control content loading speed”.
Evaluating content effectiveness is important for every project. If you want to check whether you are doing everything right, you need to know what your audience is like, how many people are watching you, which regions they live in, and which devices they use.
This requires detailed analytics.
When choosing a CDN, ask your potential provider if they gather statistics, and if so, which parameters they consider.
For example, G-Core Labs CDN provides free real-time traffic analytics on all plans. You can check:
We also provide advanced statistics for an additional fee. It shows not only the total amount of traffic but also the number of requests and unique users.
The data can be viewed by country, by directory, by browser, by device, and by OS.
Our CDN meets all of the abovementioned criteria.
We help our clients deliver their content faster every day.
For example, last year we helped GetCourse, an online education platform, deliver seamless video lessons to millions of viewers around the world.
Thanks to our CDN, Stage Audio Works, a concert equipment supplier, launched its own online broadcasting platform and managed to enter the global market.
If your video content production and delivery project need not only CDN but other features as well, we can offer you our Streaming Platform as a comprehensive solution.
Not sure which service will best solve your problems? Schedule a free consultation with our content delivery experts. They will help you find the best solution.