“Without standards, there can be no improvement.” Taiichi Ohno, Toyota industrial engineer.
Every industry has its specific set of standards to measure operations, safety and quality. These agreed upon metrics provide businesses with benchmarks to manage risks, operate efficiently, ensure quality and most importantly improve performance.
Organizations such as SMPTE, SCTE, AES and EMC recommend various technical standards to broadcasters and content providers while regulatory agencies such as the FCC enforce audio loudness and closed captioning standards. In other business areas, the NAB designates rules for programming and advertising content. Operators often establish unique internal business standards to set themselves apart from the competition and ensure they are exceeding regulatory and external Service Level Agreements.
Broadcasters and content providers have been using logging and monitoring tools to meet regulatory standards for decades. These tools can help monitor quality of service (QoS), the underlying factors that contribute to the audience's quality of experience (QoE). Business guidelines, policies and procedures can help define internal standards that are used to meet quality thresholds. Active monitoring, audits and performance indicators along the distribution chain provide actionable alarms, reports and intelligence to confirm standards are met for QoE and compliance. Thus, mitigating service impairment issues to ensure quality in direct-to-consumer (DTC) video delivery is paramount to increasing channel brand recognition and viewer retention.
Why internal standards are important
Viewers expect the best quality no matter when, where or what delivery method they use in today's multi-screen environment. The distribution network to multi-platform TV consumption contains many points where faults and errors can be introduced. Viewers are sure to click away if they experience slow loading or buffering video.
An internal standard to measure the customer's actual viewing experience, not the network performance, is critical to improving QoE. Maximum program availability is an example of a standard created by SCTE defined as a percentage of monitored seconds over a 24-hour period or a minimum of 99.99 percent or “four-nines”. Suppose a business wants to further improve or exceed that target, “five-nines” would be a higher internal standard.
While every operator's network infrastructure is different, they need to know what parameters to measure and the acceptable thresholds to monitor for QoE, QoS and compliance. An end-to-end monitoring system with specialized software probes at points in the distribution chain will provide a true picture of QoE.
Qligent Vision monitors DTC and CDN streams to ensure negative issues affecting user experience are identified and mitigated prior to creating audience churn. Qligent Vision gathers metrics such as HTTP server and client errors, buffer errors and playlist errors. By monitoring, measuring, and reporting critical standards, improvements can be made in customer retention, cost efficiency and competitive advantage.