Streaming of Video Files...

Do any of you use streaming to serve video files? I’m just wondering at what point it makes sense to use it… I’ve always heard the three reasons to use it were:

  • DRM (no physical files on the local computer)
  • Long files (say 20+ minutes)
  • Heavy load
Up until now I haven't had a situation that warranted it, but something is coming up where it may be needed.

[BTW, if you think you have streaming, but you can’t jump to the end of a video right after it starts playing - then you don’t have streaming - you have progressive download.]

I’m interested to hear what people’s experiences with it are…

  • Have you seen a savings in bandwidth?
  • Which streaming software do you use?
  • How exactly is it set up? Does it run under Apache? Is it file based (particular file types served a different way), directory based, or do the files need to be on a separate subdomain?
  • Any special hosting requirements?
  • Do you need to format the files differently?
  • Does your player need to change (e.g. the swf player for flvs/mpegs)?
  • How do you handle embed codes for affiliates and the like?
  • Based on your experience, at what point does it make sense to use streaming?
Or if you've evaluated streaming and decided to stick with progressive download - why?

Actually, any discussion along those lines would be greatly appreciated…

Re: Streaming of Video Files…

From what I remember Alex and Manifestmen was talking about or doing something with streaming video.

Re: Streaming of Video Files…

there’s no reason that DRM files can’t be downloaded to a user’s computer.

it’s an advantage to allow users to download longer files because that way, if they watch them more than once, it doesn’t cost you bandwdith. even more of an advantage to allow them to download it because if you have good quality videos, streaming videos may not play smoothly for some.

if you have videos your members like, you may find a heavy load when they play each video several times. we have members that play some of our videos 5, 6 or 7 times. i’d really rather they downloaded them :wink:

also if you offer each video in several long clips, some guys will only watch/download the last clip or the first and last clip.

the h.264 codec will make smaller but higher quality videos and it will also lower the load. i believe that you can create the videos in flash or quicktime - someone else will know.

Re: Streaming of Video Files…

You misunderstood me. I know there are other ways to do DRM, but DRM is one of the reasons why some people choose streaming. As I understand it streaming is one of the more foolproof ways of implementing DRM since there’s never a file on the user’s computer. To some people that’s of value.

If I were setting up the perfect site I’d have downloadable files in addition to streaming… For me it’s not about DRM at all.

Personally I think the biggest advantages of streaming are 1) the ability to jump around in the video (e.g. jumping to the end to see the cumshot), 2) possible savings in bandwidth since people who just look at the first part of the video won’t be downloading the entire thing, and 3) the fact that streaming servers can auto negotiate with the browser and automatically serve the best bitrate for the user’s bandwidth.

Re: Streaming of Video Files…

after seeing the member area of over 2500 paysites, i can say with a fair amount of assurance that most sites that offer DRM offer the videos for download - i’ve seen only a very few that don’t (we’re talking under 10 sites). there are ways not to allow downloads without using DRM.

and let’s not forget that offering only streaming videos is a great way to get rid of those pesky members, too - and doing that is a great way to save on bandwdith LOL

bjorn did a surfer poll - i think 90% of the hundreds of respondents preferred streaming videos. i’ve seen another such poll with thousands of responses and it was over 90%. streaming can be a nice extra, but downloadable videos make the world go round :wink:

Re: Streaming of Video Files…

No reason you can’t offer both, and actually, the latest flash player (version 9) will play h.264 natively, so I think you could potentially offer one file for both streaming and download, but since it was just released in December 07 not a lot of users have it yet.

NationalNet apparently has some open source flash streaming server that they can deploy, but other than that, you’re looking at some fairly pricey server software as far as I know.

Re: Streaming of Video Files…

You’re continuing to completely misunderstand me. I’ll say this once and be done with it since I feel like a bit like this right now… :bang:

[Pardon me if this comes off bitchy - I’m frustrated right now…]

The first title I put on the thread was something like “Streaming vs. Progressive Download”. Then I changed it because I didn’t think I said enough about progressive download in the text of my message.

That’s all I’m wondering - who does real streaming vs. fake streaming (aka “progressive download”), how did the implementation go, and how do they feel about it versus progressive download?

I didn’t say anything at all about downloadable videos other than the fact that I thought they were a great idea in my last response to you. Yet you seem to be trying to attack me and say I’m against downloadable files.

NO! NO! NO! I like downloadable files. I think they’re wonderful and everyone should offer them. But they really have nothing to do with my question… How much more clearly can I put it?

[Please go have a drink and then start over and read the thread again… This is a technical discussion about how to configure the server and the player to best serve video files that run in a (Flash) player…]

I’m trying to ask about STREAMING… It’s different than progressive download, but looks the same to the user. You seem to be confusing streaming with embedded videos. Streaming is a way to technically implement embedded videos - it not synonymous with embedded videos.

Streaming can be used anywhere you have embedded videos - on tour pages - embedded videos for affiliate bloggers - on hosted blogs - and as one way of presenting videos to members (along with downloads).

And for the record, the site that’s converted the best for me by far this year only offers embedded flash videos (no downloads) and rebills are pretty good on the site as well. However, I keep encouraging them to offer downloads 'cause I think they can do even better if they have them.

Looks like we have more terms for the dictionary you were talking about building:

Embedded Video: Videos that play in the browser and cannot be downloaded and played offline.

Progressive Download: The most common way of implementing embedded videos. Whole files are placed on a server and the entire file is downloaded by the player which runs in the user’s browser. Importantly, the user must wait for the entire file to download in order to see what’s at the end. The reason why it’s called progressive download is because the file will start playing before the file is completely downloaded.

Streaming: A way of implementing embedded videos (and audio broadcasts) where the user requests the portion of the file they need at that moment. If they want to start at the middle of the file they can jump directly to the middle. Streaming servers are also able to detect the user’s bandwidth and serve the bitrate which gives them the best quality that they are able to handle.

Now, does anyone have anything to say about streaming?

Re: Streaming of Video Files…

We currently use progressive download (embedded) on a CDN. We are working toward using flash streaming in the early spring to allow members to jump around and see the chapter markers in the video.

Download it all and then play it later is not a way we chose to go in our business plan. It is all about monetization of content for us. Besides the folks that want to download and save the files can use various means to do so.

Flash streaming will give us the results we want and the quality our surfers expect.

Re: Streaming of Video Files…

actually i didn’t misunderstand you - i chose to comment on things you said in your post.

except for some freeware streaming software that i’ve heard isn’t too good (i believe it’s called darwin) actual streaming is pretty expensive and in some cases the price depends on the number of simultaneous users, and if you underestimate, you will have slow downloads.

i’ve often gotten lower quality videos than i’d like from detection softwares. since i’m on an 8 Mbps line, i can’t imagine why some sites’ detection software would give me any video but the highest, which makes me suspect that some don’t actually detect too well.

Re: Streaming of Video Files…

We have progressive downloads in our members areas.

But we have been testing lighthttpd with php streaming on our preview videos on our 18andUpstuds site. The 2nd tour page has 9 videos with this format. We are currently debating on switching all our members videos over to this format.

I don’t think it is saving anything in bandwidth for us for those videos since they are all short anyway, but we are thinking it would save quite a bit in our members’ areas.


Re: Streaming of Video Files…

The benefits of streaming are many, but here is the quick answer

  1. Better customer experience in that you can jump around. So, let’s say you offered download as an option. The streaming would let a surfer know if they want to dl or not.

  2. Less server resources. Streaming is smart and communicates with the client. It knows exactly how much to serve at any given moment vs progressive where it’s a free for all amongst all those downloading at a given time. Yes. Bandwith savings as well.

  3. You can collect statistics on what is being watched, how much of the video members have watched, even what “sections” of the video they watch the most. For example, you may find that most of your members may skip the interview section of a video and go right to the action. Then you can make decisions based on that.

  4. Streaming can deliver the proper bit rate for the viewer. (This is actually part of #2)

If you want FLASH streaming, the last time I saw NatNet’s Flash streaming I was not impressed as I felt it was really progressive. I know some that have used Wowza and are real happy with it.

If you are real tech savy you can try out haxe, an open source Flash Server

The bottom line is this: If you want to offer videos that are served from your server and the surfer doesn’t have to download then streaming is way better than progressive. I am not sure if you are just offering this type of movie or combining it with a download option as well. Either way, if you have decided to offer videos that are served from your server and surfers don’t have to download, then streaming is your answer.

Depending on what formats you want to stream, the cost and tech can vary. For Flash, Wowza is damn good.

Re: Streaming of Video Files…

Wowza is the the way we are going. We are also using it as the platform for a really great product we will be launching in about 30 days :wink:

Re: Streaming of Video Files…

For the money, Wowza is a GREAT streaming platform for Flash. I wouldn’t think twice about using it.

Re: Streaming of Video Files…

Prices have dropped dramatically over the years. It partly depends on what format you want to stream. For about $2,000 you can get an awesome Flash streaming server with unlimited streams.

Heck, you can use Wowza for free if you only want 10 streams at a time. It’s a great way to test that bad boy out.

Re: Streaming of Video Files…

Rereading your comment I now see more clearly where you were coming from… Sorry for my rant there…