By Julien Le Tanou, Principal Engineer, Video Technology, MediaKind
The interactive, engaging and feature-rich streaming services have been rapidly adopted by sports fans and live content enthusiasts around the world. But perhaps the video game industry is the unsung hero of these next-gen platforms. The proliferation of IPTV and OTT media delivery technologies has helped make video game live streaming its own major market segment. Video game-centric streaming platforms such as Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Gaming have seen dramatic year-over-year growth in monthly watch hours — 101%, 65%, and 238%, respectively, in 2020 ( StreamElements). The global esports market is expected to reach a value of $2.8 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 14.5% (Skyquest).
The acceleration of video game streaming has encouraged other content owners and broadcasters to “gamify” their video offerings, incorporating fantasy leagues, betting integrations, trivia, quizzes and social features into the online stream. direct. The NBA has successfully tested replacing live video with game simulation through NBA 2K. Several motor racing leagues, including SRO Motorsports and Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series, have also successfully tested the transition from real racing to esports during the lockdown, with the latter surviving beyond the lockdown period and continuing to broadcast live this year.
New Considerations for a Gamified Marketplace
Sports leagues and federations relied solely on broadcast partnerships and a strong social media presence to reach their fan base. And the goal for media technologists like me was to make sure the live stream went from the stadium to the fan’s TV screen in high quality and on time. However, the increase in always-on fans means that sports leagues and teams are now focusing on building highly engaging and feature-rich direct-to-consumer (D2C) platforms. This way, they can ensure their super fans are continually entertained and informed while maintaining strong relationships with their global audience.
This rise in video game live streaming raises questions about how to optimize and adapt encoding strategies for efficient encoding of game content. Several key elements must be considered when effectively encoding real-time video game content, leading to “game content aware” encoding solutions. For example, the signal characteristics in video game content, which is computer generated using a rendering engine, differ significantly from “natural” video content, which is captured from optical cameras, electronics or sensors. The latter is usually compressed and delivered over various networks (such as live streaming, broadband, IPTV or OTT), while the former requires specific optimizations and encoder approaches.
Content owners and broadcasters can adopt a range of specific encoding strategies, including rate control, adaptive quantization, loop filtering, and motion estimation, all aimed at improving both the efficiency of compression and encoder density/runtime for signals with such characteristics. They should also assess the suitability of video compression standards in a gaming context, such as HEVC or VVC, which include specific encoding features to compress screen content.
Join us at IBC 2022!
MediaKind has researched the various possible encoding optimizations and prescriptive toolsets to best compress and deliver game content. This is a topic I am excited to present at the upcoming IBC conference (Amsterdam, 9- September 13), alongside my colleague Nelson Francisco, video compression engineer at MediaKind. Based on our research in the field, we’ll share some practical examples of relevant encoding strategies, best practices, and optimization techniques that allow content owners and broadcasters to create and manage “gamified” streams. effective within their streaming service.
Join me on Saturday, September 10 at 12:15 p.m. CEST. You can find the full conference program here.