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Industry partnerships accelerate AI-augmented video streaming

Partnerships between video streaming ecosystem experts are key to fostering innovation, writes Alain Pellen, senior manager, OTT and IPTV solutions, at Harmonic

Video streaming has become an integral part of consuming video. From binge-watching the latest series to staying updated on live sports events, consumers expect high-quality, uninterrupted video streaming experiences. AI is transforming the video streaming industry, allowing service providers to enhance content recommendations, personalise user experiences, and optimise content delivery.

While the potential of AI in video streaming is vast, unlocking it requires collaboration among various industry players. As the demand for online video content continues to surge, the role of AI in optimising video streaming cannot be overstated. This article will highlight some of the latest examples of AI-augmented video workflows elevating the video streaming landscape and explore the case for industry partnerships in accelerating AI-powered video streaming innovations.

Latest breakthroughs in AI for video streaming

Nearly every streaming provider is implementing AI at some capacity. By embracing AI-based solutions at various points in the streaming workflow, video service providers can boost monetisation, increase operational efficiencies and quality of experience while reducing costs. Some of the key areas where AI solutions are being implemented in video streaming workflows include media processing, content creation, personalisation, targeted ad insertion, and automatic scheduling of free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST).

On the media processing side, AI technology is empowering service providers to achieve up to a 50 per cent reduction in storage and CDN requirements, resulting in lower costs, reduced buffering times, and enhanced video quality. AI-based encoding technology is being used by major players, including DirecTV Go, for streaming of live video channels at significantly lower bit rates, while delivering exceptional QoE.

Furthermore, AI enables unparalleled personalisation of live sports and increased fan engagement. A growing number of viewers, especially the younger generation, are reluctant to watch a whole sports game. About 34 per cent of global sports fans aged 18 to 24 prefer watching clips or highlights of live games than watching matches in their entirety, according to data from YouGov’s Sports Whitepaper 2023. In the US, that number is even higher. Among US sports fans ages 18–34, 58 per cent of MLB fans, 54 per cent of NBA fans and 48 per cent of NFL fans say they prefer watching highlights to full games, according to a survey by Variety Intelligence Platform. Leveraging AI technology, video service providers can quickly create personalised sports highlights, live transcripts and more, in real time, revolutionising the way users engage with live sports content. 

AI also supports automated clip extraction. For this use case, AI algorithms are used to analyse live sports content in real time. Leveraging AI, service providers can create sports highlights (e.g., goals, cards, saves, misses, etc) quickly and automatically, enhancing engagement through relevant and captivating content. Viewers who missed the beginning of the game can go through the timeline, click on an event that interests them and watch a ten-second video highlight. Automated clip extraction gives viewers the freedom to watch summaries and highlights as they are doing other things in parallel on their mobile devices or game consoles. 

Moreover, AI technology is an excellent tool for boosting monetisation. Using AI, video service providers can simplify the delivery of targeted ads and support innovative applications such as automated ad break insertion and virtual product placement. Automated ad breaks allow video service providers to accurately position ads in VoD content in the absence of specific triggers, simplifying ad inventory creation while ensuring a smooth viewing experience. Virtual product placement focuses on dynamic brand insertion for VoD and linear channel playout workflows. Leveraging AI algorithms, video service providers can seamlessly integrate branded content into video, such as a logo for a popular soft drink on the side of a billboard. The ads are seamlessly woven into the video content, optimising advertising efficiency for linear channels without disrupting viewers.  

In addition, AI technology makes FAST channel scheduling and personalisation a breeze. One of the most significant challenges in the FAST market is scheduling. Using an AI recommendation engine, video service providers can automatically create playlists based on content themes, targeted demographics, and optimal ad inventory per hour. AI empowers video service providers to efficiently identify and schedule relevant assets into a FAST channel. Bringing AI into the scheduling part of the video streaming workflow is exactly what the FAST market needs to increase operational efficiencies and boost monetisation.

Collaboration fast-tracks AI video streaming innovation

The video streaming landscape is evolving rapidly. Global video streaming revenues will reach $416.84 billion by 2030, registering a CAGR of 21.5 per cent from 2023 to 2030, according to Grand View Research.

Partnerships between video streaming ecosystem experts are key to fostering innovation and enabling video service providers to stay ahead in today’s highly competitive market. By joining forces, technology providers can accelerate the development of AI for video streaming applications. Harmonic is at the forefront of AI video streaming innovation thanks to its Emmy Award-winning EyeQ technology and strong partnerships across the video streaming ecosystem with innovative companies such as Microsoft, Spideo, Leankr, Mirriad and Kebula.