MPEG-DASH: The Future of Online Video Streaming?

If you know the technical side of online video players, you’re aware there’s practically a blizzard of codecs for online streaming. All these different programs serve to obscure the market and cause a lot of confusion when it comes to optimizing video streaming for multiple devices.

However, one in particular codec is gaining in popularity. It’s called Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP. Say that three times fast. Wait, you don’t need to since we’ll shorten it to MPEG-DASH.

Whether you’re a video savant or not, let’s figure out why MPEG-DASH is getting popular and how it affects you.

So what is MPEG-DASH, really?

MPEG-DASH is the future of online multimedia streaming. Why? Because MPEG-DASH will allow one standardized codec for all devices that can connect to the Internet over HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol). The key to this new codec is interoperability.

For the consumer, this means you can watch streaming content on your smartphone, on your Internet-connected TV, on your set-top box, at your desktop computer, on your tablet — you name it.

You’re probably thinking that higher quality video is great for high-speed broadband at home, but on 3G smartphones, giant video files never work out. The beauty of MPEG-DASH is the quality of the video is directly in proportion to the playback device, the network conditions and user preferences. This dynamic streaming adapts to your device to give you the best quality experience.

[box type=”info”] “The beauty of MPEG-DASH is the quality of the video is directly in proportion to the playback device, the network conditions and user preferences.”[/box]

How does this impact your bottom line?

Now that you know how consumers will benefit from MPEG-DASH, what does it mean for your business? Put simply, it means lower costs for your developers.

For instance, before MPEG-DASH, your developers would need to have three or four different versions of the same video to play on multiple devices. With the MPEG-DASH’s interoperability, however, you will only have to create one or two. Fewer files mean lower storage costs. This intelligent streaming means delivering only the highest bit rate files when requested by a user.

Who’s using MPEG-DASH?

In the beginning, only about six companies were developing with MPEG-DASH. Now up to 60 big names such as Adobe, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Akamai, Ericsson, and Viacom are investing in the codec.

Additionally, many European cable providers are making the inclusion of MPEG-DASH mandatory in their set-top boxes by the end of this year.

We are starting to see DASH (if you want to shorten it even more) creep into our country as well. There was actually a test running many live streams from this year’s Olympics using DASH. Look for products to start saying they natively support DASH along with H.264 (soon H.265) and MP4.

DASH allows not only adaptive streaming, but it can also carry multilingual audio tracks and closed captioning. The stream can also have Digital Rights Management (DRM) encryption that protects copyrighted video from potential video pirates. And because the stream works in segments, you could have only portions that were DRM encrypted and other content fully available. Pretty cool, right?

Implementation is starting now, so we can expect to see a clearer, more interactive user experience in the next 2-3 years.

Have you spotted MPEG-DASH in action? Let me know in the comments.

About the Author
Jason Shivers

Jason Shivers

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