Live For The Living In Sports And Social

Streaming’s take on eyeballs and new revenue streams

Is there life after writing Singapore's highest-rated Channel 8 television drama? For Ang Eng Tee, the answer is yes. His tireless journey has afforded him insights into writing scripts that work for local viewers.

Besides the Little Nyonya, Ang also wrote the 1940s post-war drama Tofu Street (1996); family drama Holland V (2003); the Tiong Bahru-set sitcom 118 (2014—2015); and heartland drama Hero (2016—2017).

In light of the launch of the Asia TV Forum’s new scriptwriting pitch for theatrical movie, online movie and online drama series, iNSiGHTS magazine spoke with Ang to capture a glimmer of inspiration, as this new platform – called Mystic Asia or 魅影传说 – begins its search for the next script success.

Or what about when you hear the neighbours cheering during a live sports game on cable, and you, being all toffee-nosed (I only do live streaming, loov) still don’t know why, as you’ve just been humiliated by the D-word. (You’ve been DELAYED!)

Well, nothing like one bad experience to drop that service like a hot brick and get searching elsewhere immediately.

Just last year, Wowza’s live streaming study reported that cable broadcasts tend to have five to 10 seconds of end-to-end latency, and satellite may be as high as 15 seconds. However, the live-streaming sports apps tested have average end-to-end latency scores ranging from nine to 101 seconds. (101 seconds?! That’s a mind-numbing length of wait time).

Despite 2017’s hike in high-profile events simultaneously delivered through broadcast TV and over-the-top (OTT) streaming, making latency even more painfully apparent, the worlds of traditional television and internet-delivered content are continuing to intersect.

Wowza stated that latency is too high for much of today’s live OTT content, in which the audience is encouraged to respond in near-real time with comments and questions. A few extra seconds of delay means viewer replies don’t get back to the hosts of a show until the conversation has already moved on.

In 2018, as more premium content is syndicated across both TV and internet delivery infrastructures, expect to see the latency in live OTT adaptive streaming from many content producers drop to about five seconds – close to that of digital cable TV channels. For near-real time interactive content, expect to see content providers switching to even lower-latency streaming options.

Indeed, all the world’s still a crazed with live streaming, be it from live sporting events – which has been a strategy to grab bleachers-full of subscribers – to social/mobile live streaming, where Asia leads the world on in-app purchases, and live gifting.

With the 2018 Super Bowl and Winter Olympics sorted, and the FIFA World Cup being just around the corner, most Asian digital platforms have put their live streaming rights in place, set for the kick-off and supported by their own CDN boys.

“Driven by consumer behaviour, your infrastructure has to be able to essentially, on a dime, ramp up/turn on to be able to handle 50,000, 500,000, 5 million concurrences,” said Shane Keats, Director of Industry Marketing for Media and Entertainment at Akamai, who was in Asia recently. “If you’re in a VOD world still, you’d go dark.”

Shane Keats
Director of Industry Marketing
Media and Entertainment, Akamai

In Q1 this year, Akamai technologically supported the PyeongChang Winter Olympics that was streamed live in numerous nations across the world through 30 international broadcasters. The company provided backend tech to bolster live streaming, while also delivering VOD clips and even virtual-reality products.

This period also saw SonyLIV, the premium Video on Demand (VOD) service by Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN), providing multi-screen engagement to users on all devices, leverage Akamai's Dynamic Ad Insertion capabilities during the India-South Africa cricket series held over January and February 2018, which allowed them to achieve a near 100% ad fill rate without compromising on the viewing experience for users.

Rounding it off, the quarter also saw Hotstar, India’s largest premium video streaming platform, leverage Akamai Technologies to establish several new online viewership records on its platform for live sporting events during the popular India-England series. On the second One-Day International (ODI) held on the 19th of January, more than 25 million users watched the match on the platform, accounting for a majority of the Internet traffic from India on that day. The viewership peaked at more than 3 million concurrent viewers on the platform during the final T20 match of the England series, establishing a new high in the Asia Pacific region.


Industry heavyweight and champion against latency even before millennials were born, Akamai has not been sitting on their laurels, and continues to be ahead of the curve, at least in the sporting arena. Their heightened activity in the region is testimony to live streaming’s relevance, more so today than ever.

Akamai knows that continued success means being able to look at the possible points of failure and provide ways to deliver television-like experience. “You know something’s going to go wrong; it’s the nature of live events that things fail,” Shane continued. “From not subscribing to cancelling the channel, latency has very real effects on business growth.”

The trick today is making sure multi-CDN practises are supported, while making sure resiliency and cost among other considerations are well-thought-out. Today, with a greater emphasis on subscriber accretion, Akamai has no doubt security is also a core issue.

Insane in the Membrane
Meanwhile, social live streaming in China has gone mainstream since last year, with roughly 46 percent of China’s internet population having used a live streaming app in June 2016 (and a reported live streaming revenue reach of US$246 million between June and August 2016), the Asian explosion might not only be a different ballgame, it could also be where industry players make their next real homerun.

In a region that carries more than 60% of the world’s population, along with more than 1 billion kids (0—14) (UN ESCAP 2017), in all representing more than half of the world’s mobile subscribers – more than 4.4 billion mobile connections and more than 4.3 billion active social media users – it is no surprise that China alone carried a worth of around US$5 billion in 2017’s live streaming market.