Cool Startup: StriveCDN Looks to Upend the Video Streaming Industry

Today we’re going to take a deep dive into the work of StriveCDN, a cool startup in the OTT space focused on improving video streaming. The company is headquartered out of Hilden, Düsseldorf, and has a global vision to “provide the most sophisticated technology for P2P based live streaming” in order to “make global OTT broadcasting scalable, reliable and affordable”.

Co-founders Alex Schäfer, CEO, and Chris Probst, CTO, come from computer science backgrounds and started to develop the core tech behind StriveCDN five years ago, and officially launched the company last year. They currently have a solid team of eight people, balanced between software engineering and marketing and design roles.

As the demand for video data continues to grow, next-gen companies such as StriveCDN are coming up with novel ways of solving the problem of network capacity and offering next-gen CDN tech. StriveCDN’s focus is on improving video streaming via Peer to Peer networking (P2P). They say that P2P is “the best way to overcome the problems of modern network architecture” and “is a great way to equalize traffic delivery within the entire Internet”. WebRTC and P2P is used for data delivery only; the server-side of the network is managed.

StriveCDN’s services are more affordable than the average CDN; instead of basing cost on how much data is actually delivered, pricing is based on use and your maximum amount of concurrent viewers, depending on the service.

Its primary offerings are Strive Playout and StriveCDN Flink.

Strive Playout

Strive Playout is a live streaming content delivery network that focuses 100% on live video content. Playout offers customers the chance to “go live within minutes” via globally distributed, scalable and reliable HLS and MPEG-Dash live streams. Three different quality levels are offered for the live streams to cover different types of bandwidth capacity.

The service includes access to StriveCDN’s global content delivery partners and its own custom CDN of more than 20PoP globally. There isn’t a tree structure in the WebRTC network. Each client is always connected to both the company’s CDN and up to ten other clients, so that clients are never fully dependent on one another. The client dynamically makes the choice as to which data source is the fastest. The CDN is continually available as a backup. The network manager requires some information about the size and URL of each video segment in order to function.

Live streams can be scaled upwards without extra costs for traffic or bandwidth. Playout comes automatically with a prepared live streaming player, which reduces latency and rebuffering via intelligent pre-fetching of material.

Pricing for Playout is based on view-hours i.e. one hour of live video streaming to a single viewer. Four different plans are offered, including a free trial plan going all the way up to Enterprise for 24/7 customers, which is available at $2,100/month and offers 5 live streams and 25,000 view-hours. Plans can also be customized.

In a recent three month case study in Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand with a main data center in Singapore, StriveCDN managed daily sports events with up to three main events per week. Viewers averaged around 35,000 with 60,000 at peak times. 58.5% of traffic was generated by the WebRTC network, 14.1% was shared CDN traffic, 25.1% was CDN only traffic (without access to the WebRTC network) and 2.3% was CDN recovery traffic (when WebRTC requests were slower than anticipated and had to be re-fetched from the CDN). StriveCDN extrapolates that there is potential for 70-75% of average traffic savings in the future, up from 58% in the study. At peak times, there was 84% traffic savings.

StriveCDN Flink

StriveCDN Flink was designed in response to the problem of traffic peaks and exponential rises in streaming traffic at certain times. During major events, a significant rise in audience size can quickly cause major disruptions to service, and negatively impact a broadcasting company’s finances and reputation.

StriveCDN Flink guarantees no additional delays or latency via integrating connected devices to create a dynamically growing network. It increases available bandwidth significantly (the company claims up to 90% at peak times), thus scaling up potential audience size by absorbing traffic peaks. Live streams and webcasts will be stabilized (StriveCDN quotes 37% longer video sessions due to the increased stability and reliability of streams), allowing viewers to connect and share OTT live content among each other. The more users that are connected, the more resistant the network.

Flink is a combination of a cloud service with a JavaScript library, which can be integrated into any website that hosts an arbitrary HTML5 player. Live stream viewers directly connect to the broadcaster’s backend to exchange metadata there, from which users get sent instructions for how to send portions of their video content to other peers. The goal is to minimize the amount of P2P communication and guarantee optimal distribution.

Installation is quick and straightforward as no changes are required to existing infrastructure. Instead, following user registration, code is integrated into your website in a similar way to Google Analytics. StriveCDN’s delivery technology is based on WebRTC. Hence, it is CDN agnostic, working with custom servers along with any CDN on the market. Flink is similarly player agnostic, working with every HTML5 player. HLS + MPEG-Dash support is offered, as is full HTML5 support. The service is DRM agnostic and is completely based on SSL.

One catch re. mobile devices is that while Android is fully supported, Apple is not yet. As iOS doesn’t support Media Source Extension access, the iPhone drops out. StriveCDN says it expects that it is “only a matter of time until Apple implements this feature”.

Pricing for CDNFlink is based on your maximum amount of concurrent viewers. You don’t pay for traffic. There are three packages offered: Basic ($150/month), Business ($500/month) and Enterprise ($2,250). A custom package is also a possibility, allowing the company to choose its audience size and offers unlimited live streams, customized API and personal support from StriveCDN’s team. The company offers a variety of testing models for new clients, including a demo/webinar, trial access to the platform for six weeks, an integration test, pilot test and proof of concept.

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