Over the past year, we’ve seen video communication on an unprecedented scale, from remote work to virtual conferences and live-streamed events like webinars, town hall meetings, theatre and music. In the gaming world many casino visitors became online users.
At the same time interactive live streaming turned into an important ally for operators who need to create engaging experiences online. This shift creates unique opportunities and there are some striking examples that show how streaming can be used effectively to keep large crowds connected and let them interact, even play as if it was during an in person event.
Oliver Lietz, nanocosmos CEO, shared his thoughts on the new age of streaming, as well as how live streaming can help operators keep the momentum of their business growth and take advantage of new opportunities that interactive live streaming offers.
SBC: The pandemic turned live streaming into the new normal with many users turning to the internet for entertainment. Where are we at in terms of interactive live streaming and what are the technical challenges that operators face?
OL: We are at a point of acceleration. The audience is looking for a great interactive experience and providers need to make that happen virtually, be it due to restrictions or to suit personal preferences to join events from home. However, live streaming comes with technical challenges: The workflow can be extremely complex. It is hard to run an online casino AND deal with live video and streaming technology.
At the same time providers of online games are forced to look for a solution that allows players a great interactive experience. This narrows offers down to ones that deliver the live stream around the world in one second or less. If that part is not covered, the user experience will be subpar.
SBC: Okay, so how does nanocosmos navigate the complex workflow while meeting the crucial ‘one second or less’ latency of interactive live streaming?
OL: We are an experienced and incredibly dynamic company which is ideal to move quickly. We work closely with our clients and see them as partners to help them with their global rollout. Hence our product sometimes becomes a boutique solution to suit their needs.
nanoStream Cloud is a complete B2B interactive live streaming platform that includes everything one needs to engage audiences on a global scale. Our solution is white label and can be easily integrated into custom web pages. This allows our customers to focus on their own business while relying on 24/7 operational support for the live stream.
Looking at a use case with a 360 degree angle is an approach that we pursue that proved to be successful. However, iGaming is a particular use case. You need to understand the players to stay competitive. For example, the mobile revolution has shifted the gaming industry towards a ‘mobile first’ approach, therefore the fact that our solution works great on all devices made it extremely successful.
Nowadays, we see additional requirements. Many operators of online games seem to be unaware of the need for data metrics and analytics. An in-depth understanding of how players access live streams, from where and how live streams perform under which circumstances is needed to run games successfully. In the end, no one wants to compromise Quality of Experience (QoE). That is why analytics, which we added to our solution, is a required innovation to an interactive live streaming solution.
We see the recently achieved live streaming award from Streaming Media as a confirmation for our success and believe that both: a comprehensive approach and ultra-low latency are key for continuous success and audience engagement.
SBC: So the experience is virtual but still successful; can you explain how this is achieved? How do you make sure the live stream meets the expectations you would have consuming the event live?
OL: The commitment to go with interactive live streaming with ultra low latency is a must. The next step to keep in mind is that businesses request a solution that enables full control over the workflow, avoiding any layer of complexity that could increase latency. In addition, as already mentioned, the solution needs to work well on both desktop and mobile, entirely plugin-free and on any browser.
Next on the list is: leverage low bandwidth to reach your audience. To reach players around the world, the live streaming workflow must suit a powerful and reliable Content Delivery Network (CDN). The key to deliver games in near real time, regardless of the bandwidth available, lies in robust audio/video streaming technologies including adaptive bitrate playback on any device and browser.
With adaptive bitrate playback, the stream automatically adjusts to the best quality for the available network. A cloud-based live transcoder converts the original live stream from a high-quality input stream into the different lower quality streams used depending on the bandwidth available.
If these challenges are conquered in a smart way every step of the way, I believe it does hold up to the expectations. Keep in mind you really only have one shot or players might leave and go elsewhere.
SBC: And just finally, keeping everything we have discussed in mind, what new developments can we expect from live streaming solutions providers in 2022?
OL: The pandemic has left a big gap. The video communication market has grown to be more mature, but social interaction is still far from happening at a normal pace and extent.
This also will continue impacting the business world in 2022. We can expect a continuous demand for interactivity in live streaming, but with even higher requirements in terms of Quality of Experience (QoE) and Quality of Service (QoS).
As a consequence we expect an increased trend regarding data insights with the eventual goal to improve the end user’s experience. It is only logical that important information which helps operators making the right technical choices about their live streams needs to be available at their fingertips.
Further down that road analytics need to be part of that equation and should be utilised to push strategy in marketing and sales.
‘Mobile-first’ games will remain important and this includes delivering it over different networks. The arrival of 5G will most likely be part of this momentum and push the importance of online games worldwide. This means we can expect even better experiences for mobile players.
In addition, security and content protection is something that we see becoming increasingly important. To avoid that streams are being hijacked and content gets misused, secure streaming needs to be provided, with the right technology to detect any kind of fraud. nanoStream Cloud will be updated to cover a new product feature which gives more insight on possible attacks and helps mitigating misuse.
The global approach creates new opportunities for businesses to reach their players anywhere and anytime, with a robust live streaming platform and powerful technology to create interactive experiences.