The exponential growth in video streaming consumption shows no signs of slowing down. In 2021, nearly 550 billion hours were spent watching live streaming content—causing a global upswing in video traffic on the internet.

The skyrocketing demand for video streaming has resulted in an inevitable growth in the content delivery network (CDN) market. Cisco predicts that 82% of all-internet traffic will be video by 2022—and nearly 72% crosses a CDN.

CDNs are the quintessential powerhouse streamlining streaming workflow. They speed up content delivery across the world with the help of geographically placed servers that provide access to high-quality content online.

But it doesn't end here; this interconnected server of dispersed networks provides a host of solutions and benefits.

In this article, we'll deep-dive into the features and uses of CDN video streaming.

What is video CDN?

A video CDN is a content delivery network that supports video stream delivery. Its primary purpose is to speed up the delivery of video streams across the world via geographically distributed servers while simultaneously minimizing buffering time and latency, and ensuring that the origin servers are not bombarded with non-stop requests.

A video CDN allows the origin server to share the load with corporation edge servers, rather than single-handedly fulfilling streaming requests.

Video CDN

What is CDN?

A CDN or content delivery/distribution network is an extensive network of servers strategically positioned across edge geographical locations to distribute media files to viewers around the globe. A CDN helps eliminate traffic bottlenecks by connecting a streaming request to the server closest to the viewer. In this manner, the processing power and content is provided by the corporation edge server rather than the origin server alone.

Let's assume you place an order on Amazon. How do you imagine Amazon goes about shipping your package? Amazon headquarters (origin server) connects your order to a distribution center (edge server) closest to you, which then attempts to fulfill it. How? By sourcing the product you request either from its own warehouse or from another distribution center.

Amazon does not ship each and every ordered product directly from its central headquarters; it distributes goods to strategically placed warehouses to streamline product delivery and fulfill orders.

Similarly, when a request to stream a video is submitted to a CDN, it is fulfilled by the edge server closest to the user—using the cached media files stored on the server or by retrieving it from another server. It's how CDNs streamline content delivery by fulfilling requests with the help of local servers rather than traversing the entire internet to source content from the distant origin server.

Why use a CDN for streaming video?

The primary goal of CDN video streaming is to ensure a smooth streaming experience. Beyond that, they ensure quick video startups, reduce buffering and interruptions, and maximize quality.

Imagine attending an important live conference and your video keeps lagging. Or kicking back with your favorite series or movie, and it won't stop buffering.

Since a video CDN fetches video from your nearby CDN or edge server rather than sourcing it from the distant origin server, it resolves the problem of slow loading times. It allows geographically dispersed audiences to seamlessly share content without interruptions and enjoy a secure and high-quality streaming experience.

In addition to faster loading times, using a CDN for streaming videos lowers infrastructure costs and packet losses, and increases latency while ensuring high scalability and security.

Features of Video CDN

A high-performing of video content delivery network should have the following key features:

Global delivery

The group of interconnected servers dispersed across strategic geographic locations is a key element ensuring global content delivery. Since the majority of broadcasters cater to a global audience, they tend to have a wide distribution of CDN servers.

As a matter of fact, the American content delivery network market grew from  $1.95 billion to $7.83 billion between 2014 and 2019.

Global PoPs

CDNs support global delivery via global "PoPs" or Points of Presence—which are "edge" servers connecting streaming requests to the CDN network.

The sole purpose of a PoP is to allow CDNs within the promising to access and deliver the cached versions of video content as and when requested.  

Ideally, CDN concentrations or PoPs are higher in regions where there is a major target audience. Beyond that, servers start to become sparse—and sometimes, even non-existent.

HD quality network

The closer an edge server or PoP is to the viewer who submits a streaming request, the better their streaming quality and experience will be. As you move farther (typically happens with video streaming CDNs that do not have an extensive distribution of servers), there is a decline in streaming experience; poor-quality videos, extended buffering times, low download speeds, and slow video startup times.

VOD

When choosing a video streaming CDN for your enterprise, make sure it supports key video formats, is optimized for video on-demand (VOD) and live video platforms, and is compatible with most devices and platforms.

CDN compatibility is a characteristic of cutting-edge video transcoding, adaptive bitrate streaming, omni-device support, and adherence to streaming protocols.

Transcoding

Video content delivery systems provide accelerated distribution of large multimedia content on a wide range of web browsers, devices, players, etc through effective video transcoding (digital-to-digital conversion of compressed formats of encoded data to another).

Omni-device delivery

A key feature of CDN networks is compatibility with different browsers, operating systems, and devices to ensure omni-device delivery and reach maximum viewers. A top-notch video CDN can streamline streaming workflow by enabling quick and seamless launch of video streams on as many channels as you desire.

Adaptive bitrate

Adaptive bitrate streaming is a video technology that allows broadcasters to deliver video content to viewers regardless of their individual internet connections and speeds. While it is not possible to control the varying speeds of different internet connections, using adaptive bitrate streaming, one can accommodate viewers appropriately. How? By automatically assessing and sending them different-sized renditions their connections can handle.

This is achieved by following streaming protocols and integrating with compatible video players and video transcoding tools which help create appropriate renditions for the same stream.

Support for video formats and protocols

Video streaming protocols and video formats play a huge role in facilitating content access to viewers by transferring data from one program to another.

Video streaming protocols are software programs that outline the standard rules of video content delivery over the internet. A video streaming protocol segments source video files to smaller chunks and sends them to video players — which then reassemble and retrieve the original file from the segments.

We have codecs to encode and decode data before and after compression—and the most common codecs in use today are H.264, H.265, and AVC.

Compatibility with different video formats and protocols is instrumental in optimizing streaming experience. For example, Apple’s HTML5 video player is one of most widely-used players in the market providing compatibility with a wide range of operating systems and browsers.

Video formats such as MP4, MOV, FLV, CMAF, and video streaming protocols such as HLS, DASH, WebRTC, RTMP, RTSP are widely used to enable on-demand streaming.

Video CMS

A video content management system, or video CMS, is a software platform that allows businesses to securely manage, share, and deliver video over the internet. Video CMS are custom-built for businesses of all sizes and help perform external and internal communications without any programming knowledge.

Among the key advantages of a video CMS are: hassle-free streaming, excellent security and privacy, access to engagement analytics, and seamless integrations with existing setups.

Content Security

Security is a key feature to look out for when choosing a CDN network for your enterprise. CDNs safeguard videos from unauthorized access and virus attacks. For example, DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) is a prominent threat online content is vulnerable to. However, using a secure CDN network, it is possible to leverage multiple safeguarding features like HTTP load balancing and encrypted traffic to prevent piracy and unwarranted attacks.

DRM

The best CDN for video ensures your internal meetings remain private. There should be role-based access control to provide appropriate access to viewers and to enable permissions so as to control internal privacy settings. Top-notch security also means being able to restrict certain domains access to videos (if needed) and providing playback control to users for desired periods of time only.

CDNs integrated with Digital Rights Management (DRM) ensure videos are accessible to clients only if they are granted authorization to do so. They are required to carry a decryption key to decrypt encrypted video and authorize playback.

CDN networks like Gumlet come built-in with DRM protection to safeguard content delivery on different formats.

Benefits of using Video CDN

  • A video CDN plays an integral role in increasing streaming quality and performance by reducing budgeting, interruptions, and unnecessary lags.
  • Video CDN providers allow the load to be distributed across multiple servers by creating redundancy which enhances video streaming experience.
  • In addition to reducing loading times, a video CDN lowers infrastructure costs and minimizes packet losses.
  • It facilitates high scalability while ensuring latency and security.
  • Since video streaming is bandwidth-intensive, it causes an inevitable overload when transmitting bulky media files via slow internet connections. With a CDN to efficiently distribute video content to different servers, it is possible to deliver high-quality streams without encountering common streaming issues.

The combination of the above-mentioned features ensure video hosting CDN provides seamless failover and safeguards your streaming platform from crashes and slowdowns.

Why use Gumlet Video CDN?

Gumlet offers a world-class CDN network helping businesses speed up the delivery of their website content. Recognized as the "High Performer among Content Delivery Networks on G2", Gumlet is globally known to deliver faster loading times, reduce buffering times, and lower infrastructure costs.

Gumlet's geo-distributed infrastructure leverages multi-CDN rerouting to ensure 99.99% uptime for enterprises. Viewers enjoy HD quality video streaming experience and top-level security with instantly-accessible video playbacks that are secured with signed URLs.