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Video is too hard.
Video is too hard.

Video is too hard.

11/10/2017November 10, 2017(3 years ago)
2 min read
11/10/2017November 10, 2017(3 years ago)
2 min read

Video is too hard.

Online video is growing quickly, but it's still way too hard to stream video.

Video has actually gotten harder to work with, not easier, over the last seven years. It takes a video expert to publish video well, and you need a team of experts if you care about performance.

This is holding back the industry.

Why is video so hard?

Let's look at the way most video was published in 2010 vs. 2017.

20102017
PlayerFlashChrome, Firefox, Safari, iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, etc.
DesktopDesktop, Mobile Web, Mobile Native, TV platforms
EncodingSD, HD270p, 360p, 480p, 540p, 720p, 1080p
MP4 (one file)HLS and DASH (thousands of files)
H.264H.264, VP9, HEVC
DeliverySingle CDNMultiple CDNs
Single bitrateAdaptive bitrate
AdsRare (and difficult) Ubiquitous (and difficult)
Client-sideClient-side and server-side
Viewer expectationsSurprised video plays at allUpset when video isn't perfect
Player
2010
Flash
2017
Chrome, Firefox, Safari, iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, etc.
2010
Desktop
2017
Desktop, Mobile Web, Mobile Native, TV platforms
Encoding
2010
SD, HD
2017
270p, 360p, 480p, 540p, 720p, 1080p
2010
MP4 (one file)
2017
HLS and DASH (thousands of files)
2010
H.264
2017
H.264, VP9, HEVC
Delivery
2010
Single CDN
2017
Multiple CDNs
2010
Single bitrate
2017
Adaptive bitrate
Ads
2010
Rare (and difficult)
2017
Ubiquitous (and difficult)
2010
Client-side
2017
Client-side and server-side
Viewer expectations
2010
Surprised video plays at all
2017
Upset when video isn't perfect

Other problems include scale (much more video is watched today than seven years ago); cost (video streaming is really expensive); and differentiation (consumers have near-unlimited options for where to watch).

A few things have gotten easier - encoding software like ffmpeg is better now than it used to be; cloud computing platforms are more mature; there is a growing ecosystem around video tooling. But on balance, things are much more complicated in 2017 than they were in 2010.

Now what?

So you want to stream video at scale. Given this complexity, what do you do?

You have a few options.

Option 1: Don't stream video. Rethink your life and do something else - build a finance app, or a chatbot, or go make WUPHF a thing.

Option 2: Hire video experts. If you just want to stay above water, hire one video expert to supplement your regular engineering team. If you really want to do things well, hire a team of video engineers and commit yourself to a significant investment in video. Just keep in mind that great video engineers are well-paid and hard-to-find. 💰💰

Option 3: Do the best you can without video expertise, knowing that whatever you build will be painful for you and your users. Or invest the time to become a video expert yourself and join the ranks of well-paid and hard-to-find. 💰💰

Option 4: Watch this space and see what Mux announces next week.

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