Video has completely transformed the way people are entertained and informed, so it makes sense that video has driven the internet to include a superstructure of interlinked private content delivery networks, or CDNs. The huge bandwidth requirements imposed by the shift from static webpages and file downloads to video streaming forced service providers to push the most likely and popular content to the edges of the network, reducing the median time to buffer and launch the content from 20–40 seconds in the 1990s with dial-up access points down to less than 4 seconds today.
Superior content delivery performance
Video buffer incidents are often quite minor, but even one buffer delay leads viewers to reduce the time they spend on that content by 39% according to MUX. Akamai found that streaming video viewers start to abandon content when it takes just two seconds to launch; after 11 seconds launch delay, fifty percent of videos are abandoned.
Decentralization allows CDNs to scale from tens or hundreds of edge sites to thousands or potentially millions of nodes. With blockchain CDNs, the nearest content node could be as close as down the hall or next door; launch delays may be reduced to fractions of a second.
Lower capital investment and cost to serve
Conventional CDN architectures are planned to accommodate peak traffic loads with sub-second delays, so it should not come as a surprise that most servers in typical CDNs see very light loading under normal conditions. All that capacity comes at a price.
Decentralized, tokenized CDNs follow the Uber or Airbnb model instead: private owners offer their excess storage and communications capacity in return for a reasonable per-use compensation. Other than infrastructure equipment vendors, everyone wins in a shared-economy market: the CDN supplier foregoes the capital costs, the storage contributors offset some of their sunk costs, customers see lower prices for equivalent services, and new customers can explore a service they might never have considered.
One fundamental benefit of shared economy services is that participants can easily enter and leave a sharing service because the barriers of entry and exit are low. The cost and time to sign on with a shared economy service is usually very low, assuming the participant complies with local regulations. If an Uber driver finds a more lucrative full-time job, he can scale back his hours working for Uber or stop entirely. If an Airbnb host finds a full-time tenant or needs that space room for something else, she can simply block an extended period from booking through the service or drop out entirely. Similarly, a business or individual that wants to enroll and earn tokens by sharing excess IT capacity can opt into the StreamSpace CDN network quickly and easily. The two keys to maximizing token earnings are (1) choosing the most popular content to store and serve, and (2) having an optimal location, near the end users for that content. While anecdotes about expensive duds are famous, the recipes for hit movies and popular short-form YouTube videos are actually quite well known: Tell a great story, execute the production professionally, and promote the offering with a brand or image that people can recognize.
Another chief reason why video service providers adopt CDNs is to improve security, especially DDOS attack denial, since the CDN content is replicated across a large number of servers. Blockchain storage architectures such as IPFS extend that power through decentralized content replication, with an added security advantage: the blockchain stores an encrypted hash address, so only the keyholders can access the content. Only whitelisted servers are allowed to connect to a private IPFS network, reducing the risk even further. Finally, the StreamSpace CDN further breaks the video content into shards, file segments that individually are meaningless, but which combine to make a seamless video experience.
8K Virtual reality (VR) content has 25x the data density of conventional 720p HD video content and 4x the density of 4K video. Today’s conventional CDNs often struggle to support 4K video files, which require 30–50 Mbps transfer speeds; 8K VR content requires 128–200 Mbps connectivity. As more people adopt VR, we will see an explosion in VR content sharing, just as we now see 50–100% annual increases in demand for 4K video. And beyond 8K VR lie even richer media structures, like “6 Degrees of Freedom” (6DOF) and Lightfield content, which require 1–5Gbps connectivity or higher. Live media streaming adds an extra wrinkle, where content loss is more acceptable than buffer delay; extraordinarily rich VR live streaming places the viewer directly into a scene to interact with other participants to enable new and powerful experiences.
A world of distributed applications (or DApps) is just emerging to take advantage of IPFS and similar decentralized network structures. StreamSpace is exploring a range of dApps and encouraging content developers to build DApps that support the IPFS ecosystem.
StreamSpace, a blockchain startup based in Austin Texas, believes that its decentralized video content delivery network can reduce the cost to serve content by 50–70% compared to conventional CDNs. Not only does this provide an economic advantage to video creators and distributors, the StreamSpace CDN also provides an income stream for content curators who participate by contributing underutilized storage. Join the discussion with StreamSpace through our social media channels.
1. Dahl, Jon. MUX, https://mux.com/blog/buffering-reduces-video-watch-time-by-40-according-to-research/, Sept 14, 2016.
2. Krishnan, S. Shumuga and Sitaraman, Ramesh K. “Video Stream Quality Impacts Viewer Behavior: Inferring Causality Using Quasi-Experimental Designs,” https://www.akamai.com/kr/ko/multimedia/documents/technical-publication/video-stream-quality-impacts-viewer-behavior-inferring-causality-using-quasi-experimental-designs-technical-publication.pdf,IMC’12,November 14–16, 2012, Boston, Massachusetts, 2012.