Heavy Reading Research

MPEG DASH Awaits Its Close-Up

Later this month, the Internet video streaming sector will receive much-needed guidelines for implementing the MPEG Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (MPEG DASH) adaptive bitrate (ABR) streaming standard, courtesy of the DASH Industry Forum (DASH-IF).

The forum announced its long-awaited document, "Guidelines for Implementation: DASH-264 Interoperability Points," back in January, and opened it up to a public comment and review period that concludes this Friday.

When the interoperability document gets finalized, it should deliver a nice jolt of energy to the adoption case for MPEG DASH, a standard that aims to reduce widespread fragmentation among ABR streaming technologies, and promote greater cost and labor efficiencies in the process. Currently, many companies in the streaming sector have to spread their engineering time and talent across at least three different adaptive bit-rate streaming formats – HTTP Live Streaming from Apple, HTTP Smooth Streaming from Microsoft and HTTP Dynamic Streaming from Adobe Systems.

In the last several years, ABR streaming has helped consolidate an Internet video streaming sector that was starting to look like the Wild West, with too many different proprietary technologies in play. The fact that there are just three major ABR streaming formats now might seem like a blessing compared to what the budding streaming sector experienced previously.

However, the existence of multiple default standards suggests there is still wasted money and labor on the table. MPEG DASH looks to change all that, but standards tend to be generalized documents that need further specificity and industry agreement to be practically implemented. That's where the DASH-IF has chipped in, with further specifics on MPEG DASH codec support and common encryption for digital rights management (DRM), among other guidelines.

As our latest Heavy Reading Insider, "An Industry Adapts to MPEG DASH," found, those implementation tips – combined with rapidly increasing industry support – will give the new standard much of what it needs to succeed. The rest may be up to how ready the rest of the industry is to let a brand new standard take precedence over three very mature ABR streaming formats.

The streaming sector still does look a little like the Wild West, and the consistency and organization inherent in the MPEG DASH standard could help the sector take its next step. — Dan O'Shea, Contributing Analyst, Heavy Reading Insider

An Industry Adapts to MPEG DASH, a 12-page report, is available as part of an annual subscription (12 monthly issues) to Heavy Reading Insider, priced at $1,995. This report is available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/insider.

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