The question is, will the services ‘cache in’ on the potential cash cow, asks this video caching expert.
With the current pandemic causing a growing number of people to work from home and self-isolate, online entertainment platforms are outperforming the market. Streaming companies such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have seen an upsurge in consumer activity, especially in the APAC region. A study conducted by Media Partners Asia had found that online video streaming minutes in Southeast Asia has skyrocketed by 60% after the pandemic hit. Global services such as Netflix saw a 115% increase in usage, as did Viu and other regional streaming services.
Meanwhile, Disney has also been successful in its rollout of Disney+ in the APAC region. In fact, the service has already become the biggest streamer thanks to a merger with Star India’s Hotstar, relaunching as Disney+ Hotstar at the height of the COVID-19 crisis. It is expected to be launched in Singapore in the near future.
Not far behind in the streaming race are the Asian streaming platforms. China-based company iQIYI has seen a 23% increase in paid subscribers since 2019. Its rapidly-expanding presence into the APAC market could foreseeably disrupt the streaming space for leaders like Netflix and Disney+.
The APAC region has emerged as a market with strong growth potential and a competitive ground for all streaming platforms. The availability of 5G is expected to boost the demand for streaming even further, especially in markets such as Singapore, China, and South Korea. In fact, major streaming platforms have taken the opportunity to make huge investments to capture the potential of the APAC region.
Quality over quantity
While streaming-service CFOs may be pleased with the recent investor confidence, CIOs will be more concerned with how the customer experience holds up, as an increasing number of viewers try to access the content. With people stuck at home with a limited number of activities to keep them busy or distracted, the temptation to reach for the remote and binge-watch the latest series of Game of Thrones may be the only thing to keep cabin fever at bay.
With major streaming providers diversifying their content, and with the rise of regional providers as competitors in the APAC market, there will undoubtedly be a lot of pressure to serve up the latest original content without issue. Any instances of delays or buffering from new or most-beloved streaming services will be an immediate turn-off, with viewers demanding the same level of reliability no matter how many users are streaming at once.
Caching for better streaming
Peaks in activity for any streaming service—whether it is gaming, audio, or video—are rarely 100% predictable. Although Netflix expects the coronavirus boom to fade, current trends suggest that the video-on-demand (SVOD) services subscriber base is expected to reach 417 million by 2025 in the APAC region.
As such, to not only anticipate and mitigate potential peaks, companies should be architecting their content delivery networks to prepare for the long-term growth in the APAC region. Delivering on-demand streaming at scale, to unpredictable audiences on multiple devices, poses significant technical challenges.
With roughly three-quarters of streamers not returning to services that have faced multiple buffering issues, engineering teams need to work to alleviate delivery challenges, leveraging the power of caching technology to reduce the bottleneck on servers and ensure their users see minimal start-up times, faster downloads, and better experiences.
Other streaming platforms will need to follow suit, and ensure they have the right technological infrastructure in place to handle the delivery of content quickly, on-demand, and at scale.
Caching policies allow streaming platforms to offload traffic that would otherwise hit the backend, reducing latency and minimizing instances of buffering or lag. The policies also enable the storage of massive content libraries so that even if thousands of self-isolating people are reaching into the deepest troves of your video back catalog, you can deliver reliably, even when demand is high.
We are living in strained times, and the uncertainty of the pandemic has created a new reality for businesses and people alike. It is a unique, if not somber opportunity for those companies providing network infrastructure, platforms and services to get the technology right, while they have a captive audience.