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• How do you want the program fi les used? • How much control do you need over the distribution of the fi les. Content-distribution networks Streaming software Another option is a content-distribution network. This is a facility that is designed to take your stream and distribute it across the globe. Key questions you need to answer here include: Streaming has two sides: • Sending the fi le UP to the streaming server. • How big is your audience likely to be? • Distributing the stream to the world. • Will everyone be watching at once, or does your program have a long shelf-life? • Do you need to support all browsers that are out there, or can you control which browsers people will watch this with? • Not all viewers have high-speed access to the web. You need to have multiple versions of your program to support fast and slow Internet access. • Mobile phones and tablets are a very special case. Don’t assume they can watch your program unless you create fi les especially for them. • Make sure you have fast enough Internet upload speeds to stream your program. Most ISP’s provide very fast download speeds, but very slow upload speeds. You may need to upgrade your Internet connection to support streaming. Where is your audience located? • access to technical support to handle unhappy viewers. If you just want to get them “out there,” post them to YouTube and be done with it. The up link is a single computer originating the fi le and sending it to a single server. This server then takes that unicast and splits it into as many feeds as you have viewers, sending each viewer their own version of the program. We have an older system that we are using for audio streaming, originating with QuickTime Broadcaster; which Apple has discontinued in more recent OS X upgrades. Telestream Wirecast is an excellent, and current, software tool for streaming both audio and video. We are also experimenting with Google Hangouts as another way of originating the broadcast. My recommendation is Wirecast but there is also LiveCast, UCast, and many others. Next, you need a host server for the stream. Again, you need to consider how many people are watching, as the more people that watch the more expensive your bandwidth costs are likely to be. Akamai is the 800-pound gorilla in this market, but they tend to be the most expensive and geared toward really large productions. A Google search will turn up many others in your region. The key is to have a sense of how many people are likely to watch, then use that to gauge how big a distribution network you need. Networks are available to support millions of viewers. However, most shows will only attract a few hundred users at any one time. Companies to consider are Amazon CloudFront, Akamai, LiveStream, UStream, and a fl ock of other “content-distribution networks,” which will appear on any Google search. Select a few of these and start a conversation well before you want to launch your program. This is an area where spending time planning can save buckets of aggravation and unhappy viewers later. The perils of the Internet Once you start streaming, and that digital fi le leaves your hands for the big world out there, headaches go with the territory: • Not all web browsers support all web video or audio formats. Be sure you are using server-based media player that supports the key browsers used by your audience. • Web latency means that fi les that start fi ne from your originating computer don’t arrive in a timely fashion. Audio and video freezes or drop outs. Be sure you have ASK OUR EXPERTS Summary Streaming media over the Internet can be a huge win for your company. But it requires planning and thinking about what you really want to achieve. Then, it requires creating a compelling program that other people want to watch. Once the program is done - assuming you aren’t webcasting it livez - if you want the widest audience with the least amount of hassle, post your media to YouTube. You don’t have a lot of control, but you also don’t have a lot of headaches. Audio streaming is fairly simple, but you still need a streaming server and a distribution network. Recording a program and allowing people to download the fi le is dirt simple. Recording a program and allowing people to stream it via your own web servers will require custom programming. Webcasting a live program requires all the above, plus great marketing to attract an audience. Web streaming isn’t impossible, but it takes thought, marketing, and a strong understanding of technology to make it work. But when it works… it’s amazing! Tel. +44 (0)1635 237 237 POST YOUR QUESTION ONLINE: Search ‘tvbay’ Email. questions@tv-bay.com TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 91 JULY 2014 | 41