Low Latency Streaming And Fan2Stage

Fan2Stage gets ready for Broadcast as Apple and Microsoft play nice?

Early in the testing of Fan2Stage, a major studio thought it could work for one of their talk shows. Using conferencing platforms like Zoom, just didn’t cut it. While the system was good at preventing audio loops, it had other issues. Fan2Stage was build to solve many of those issues.

During the early testing it was discovered that there was nearly two minutes of delay from the time the shows host made a comment until the fans saw it. No one ever checked it because no one ever cared. There was still a live audience in the studio for the host to work off of. Performers and entertainers of all kinds need an audience. The audience gives them the energy to go on. As an actor I will tell you that I am not a live theater actor but my favorite jobs were shows shot in front of a live studio audience.

Latency is the Delay

That 90 to 120 second delay we experienced testing with the show was due to the way streaming is handled. The technical term for it is latency delay. The delay is caused by the fact that every viewing device doesn’t decode the signal the same. When an Apple iPad logs in to see the live stream, it sends a code to the shows systems saying it is an Apple Device using x.decoder. When an Android tablet check it, it sent that it used G.decoder. The same was true for Microsoft PC’s.

Because each operating system used a different viewer for live events and live stream video, latency delay was inevitable and low latency streaming nearly impossible. The server at the host had to generate 3 or more different streams, and that accounted for the biggest chunk of the delay. Even if the server converted it to Mp4 so everyone could see it, that would take time too.

Lets Get Chunky

In the July 2022 issue of TVTech.com‘s magazine, they announced a new technology. The new tech is called Chunked CMAF. Chunked CMAF is a low latency streaming protocol. In 2016 Apple and Microsoft realized that streaming latency was a problem, and started working with the Moving Pictures Expert Group, the MPEG in Mpeg video files, to create a single standard.

In 2017 demonstrations showed the delay to be as little as 5 seconds, but that still wasn’t the same as a straight webcam which could be sub 1 second. They kept working. Everyone realizes that OTT (Internet live streaming) latency delays are a problem. In the stock market companies pay millions for faster networks, closer to the trading floor to execute trades just milliseconds ahead of the other guy.

Live sports isn’t much different. If you can bet on the outcome of a field goal, and have a 90 second head start on the outcome, that is a major advantage. Interestingly live sports is one of the first areas that Chunked CMAF is expected to be used. Because of that we are working on Fan2Field as well.

Its About a Laugh

The NFL fined teams for adding fake applause as live audiences returned. What if they could add live applause from real people? We thought it would be the right thing. Laughing at a joke 90 seconds after the talk show host delivers it, doesn’t enhance the show. Cheering for the field goal 90 seconds later doesn’t cut it either. Live streaming is about to really be “live”. Don’t be left out, download the live fan app now.

Fan2Stage – “The Audience is Here!”