Ensuring exceptional stream health for online broadcasts

by | Feb 8, 2021

A utility article from TicketCo Media Services on how to ensure stream health for online broadcasting

How can you ensure that the content you are streaming is well received in the other end of your pay-per-view stream? TicketCo’s Media Services expert Darren Connaughton has got the answers, and he is eager to share them.

External conditions can sometimes impact the quality of channel outputs, which affects the quality of a stream.
But there are steps that can be taken to significantly reduce the risk of disruption, so viewers can enjoy a reliable, HD quality broadcast.

TicketCo Media Services has developed a ’10 Steps to Streaming Success’ Welcome Pack to help organisers get the most out of the online broadcasting and deliver exceptional digital events globally. In our latest insight our Customer Success Agent and Media Services expert Darren Connaughton discusses a live stream’s health and his recommendations to ensure your online broadcasts are successful.

Sharing essential data

While streaming a performance, TicketCo Media Services provides organisers with a Stream Health dashboard that relays vital information regarding the live health of a broadcast. This essential tool can be shared with anyone working on an event and it is strongly recommended the person in charge of production and broadcasting has access to the dashboard.

“The report listed in the dashboard will provide the producer with information that identifies if there is a problem in the encoding or internet connection at the location of the live stream,” said Darren. “In simpler terms, the producer will be able to see if the Frame Rate Per Second (FPS) used in the production software settings is reaching our platform as intended.”

Solving common problems

Typical live stream health problems relate to bitrate settings that are too demanding for production hardware to encode.
Bitrate is defined as the amount of data encoded for a unit of time. This is measured in megabits per second (Mbps) for video and kilobits per second (kbps) for sound.

“A higher video bitrate results in a higher quality video, but that ultimately requires more bandwidth,” said Darren. “If the bitrate settings are too demanding for the production’s hardware, the broadcast will be transmitted at a lower frame rate.
“We find educating organisers with these simple pockets of information to be extremely useful to them. In our Stream Health pack, we also discuss how multi-camera productions and complex sound setups will demand stronger encoding equipment.”

Monitoring quality

The Stream Health dashboard provides organisers with four important graphs to monitor output quality.

They are:

Active Alerts – Alerts are indications of critical issues that could have a serious impact on channel performance, such as loss of video or audio or failure to connect with output targets. Alerts are active when the issue is reoccurring and not been resolved.

Input Video Frame Rate – This is the frame rate average over the last 10 seconds. Depending on upstream network conditions, there can be small variations. A large variation on this graph indicates a problem.

Network In – This graph confirms the bitrate of the attached input. For live streams, significant drops might indicate upstream network issues which are throttling the incoming stream.

Network Out – This is the combined bitrate of all outputs from the channel. For example, if you have a primary and backup output groups this graph will display the combined bitrates from all streams.

Each graph has a blue (Channel 0, primary endpoint) and orange (Channel 1, backup endpoint) line to gauge the health of your stream.

To access our full guide to Stream Health click here.

If you are a Spektrix client and want to learn more about the frictionless and fully automated integration between Spektrix and TicketCo Media Services, please read more here.

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Written by Greig Box Turnbull

Experienced communications and strategic PR advisor, with a strong background in journalism and public relations. Founder of Fortitude Communications, director of Oxford City ice hockey club and Vice Chair of Oxford United in the Community. A former Daily Mirror journalist and Oxford United FC managing director.

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