CDN Insights Podcast Episode 3 - 2021 Video Predictions


By Steve Milmore, Director Corporate Communications

February 2, 2021

One lesson we’ll all take away from 2020 is that predicting the future is very tricky. Factors outside of your control can significantly impact your plans and potentially knock you off course. It’s unlikely anyone could have anticipated the tremendous impact COVID-19 had our lives, but the good news is that people everywhere were quick to adapt to the “new normal.”

CDN Insights Podcast Episode 3 - 2021 Video Predictions


People across the world are now spending more time at home and consuming more online content than ever before. According to the How Video is Changing the World report released this year, consumers worldwide now watching or using online video four times as much compared to pre-pandemic, and more than 85% of people now watch up to six hours of online video per day.


Online video has taken a much bigger role as our top source of entertainment, socialinteractions and information. This sudden increase in viewing has accelerated consumer expectations for video experiences and caused far more online traffic -- causing a need for more capability around the world. As new content platforms go live in 2021, the priority won’t just be to deliver content – but to ensure the user experience is as innovative, low-latency and engaging as possible.


Here are three key trends and priorities we see coming in 2021.


1.Realtime Streaming and Live Sports Take Center Stage

As sporting events returned to our screens this summer, several broadcasters experimented with new virtual offerings to make the realtime streaming experience more engaging. This experimentation will only increase in 2021. We can also expect more personalized services that provide alternative commentaries, live audio feeds from the referee’s mic, and crowd sounds for an authentic stadium experience. We’ll also see more features focused on social streaming, allowing friends to watch together. We’re not there yet, but we’re quickly approaching a model where the user controls the content experience for themselves.


This of course will require realtime distribution of data from service providers -- muchmore data delivered in a shorter window of time. This is especially true given growingdemand for 4K content streaming. Efficient delivery of content will continue to be critical to the viewing experience, so providers will look for the best and most efficientstandards and formats for the job.


2.5G Pushes Content to the Edge

2021 is the year 5G exits the hype cycle and raises the bar for content delivery at thenetwork edge. The rollout of 5G micro stations and antennas will drive the opportunity for bandwidth improvements. However, since most consumer devices onthe market today are still heavily 4G-dependent however, the improvement won’t be immediate. But over time, we’ll start to see new consumer devices that capitalize on the 5G spectrum. When this happens, consumers will be able to enjoy the higher bandwidth that 5G promises.


The uptake of 5G devices will create greater opportunities for more data-rich experiences -- and an explosion in the amount of data generated by devices connected to the 5G network. This gives rise to the need to process that data closer to the end user to deliver strong performance and an individualized experience while also reducing the costs of centralized processing.


5G creates more capacity at the network edge to deliver quality, data-intensive content experiences. However, taking advantage of its potential will require close collaboration between telecommunications providers and CDNs. Telcos will need to consider where in the network to place the capacity to distribute content and processdata most effectively. This is important when users are demanding radically different kinds of content and using new data rich services.


3.Content Becomes a Security Priority


COVID-19 has created a fertile environment for cybercriminals. Lockdown didn’t just inspire a spate of ransomware attacks on remote workers, it fueled attacks on business continuity and service infrastructure. DDoS attacks continue to be one of the most popular tools for hackers.


The good news? New technology will help protect streaming infrastructure as well asdata services. While security priorities used to be confined to the protection of data, the scope will extend to the security of content services, intellectual property and streaming infrastructure in 2021.


More steps will be taken to protect the infrastructure responsible for content creation.DDoS protection and perimeter security will receive greater investment, alongside new access control and user authentication measures. Zero trust between systems will become the default setting for many organizations to ensure content can’t be compromised from without or within. We’ll also see companies take steps to reduce the pirating of their content and identify illegal credential sharing by users. Techniques such as forensic watermarking will be used to deter and stop pirates from copying and distributing content illegally.


You can Listen to our CDN Insights podcast with Steve-Miller Jones, Limelight’s VP of Strategy, for more discussion on predictions and trends for 2021.