Live streaming has a charm to it. People stick to watching it for long without batting their eyelids.
But, just when you start getting into the sync with the live stream does that dreaded thing starts to happen! Buffering. The small rounded dots that seems to go on forever.
“Why does my video keep buffering?”
At least one-half of viewers who watched a live stream swear ask this question helplessly.
There are 5 common reasons that causes buffering issues:
1. The connection between the live video encoder and the server is interrupted
2. The Internet connection speed is inadequate to accommodate the encoder’s bitrate
3. Extinguishing the bitrate available for live streaming
4. Excess load on the server making it to crash
5. The Internet bandwidth maybe inadequate to push the live stream completely
Is it possible to spot what causes buffering issues in live streaming and seal them once and for all?
In most cases, YES. Here is how to fix it.
Adaptive Bit-rate Streaming
Keep the Bandwidth Under 1 Mbps
Maintain a Higher Upload Speed
Set a Lower Keyframe Interval
Don’t Overload Your Encoder
Pick Wired Encoder Above a Wireless One
1. Adaptive Bit-Rate Streaming
Quite often, in live streaming, as well as in the Internet, it is not easy for data to reach the server. Due to network issues or because of system issues, the data might not cross to the server completely, as a result of which buffering problems kicks into the live stream.
But, there is a quick fix. Adaptive bit-rate streaming helps combat these issues by streaming the video in a lower quality than totally disconnecting the stream. Adaptive bit-rate streaming ensures that the live stream is not interrupted and continues with a bit-rate that adapts to the available bandwidth.
2. Keep The Bandwidth Under 1 Mbps
YouTube reports that mobile video consumption doubles every year. Mobile has replaced TV and desktops as the main device for media consumption. So, there is a compulsion to make your live stream compatible for mobile devices.
A good practice to achieve mobile-friendly or any screen friendly live streaming is to keep the bandwidth under 1 Mbps. If your bandwidth exceeds 1 Mbps, there is a high chance that the live stream will experience buffering issues. Most encoders come with the flexibility to set the bandwidth at which your video stream must happen. As a golden rule, fix it under 1 Mbps and your live stream must work fine and smooth.
3. Maintain A Higher Upload Speed
Your upload speed and live streaming buffering is directly connected. It is ideal to have twice the upload speed compared to the bitrate. When the upload speed falls, the stream gets delayed in reaching the user, or gets distributed in broken packets which is shown as buffering.
To avoid that maintain a higher upload speed, which means you will require a higher Internet bandwidth. Other factors like a wired encoder will also contribute to the live stream upload speed.
4. Set A Lower Keyframe Interval
Setting an optimum keyframe interval can help mitigate the issues in video buffering. However, there is a catch. You cannot set two keyframes two farther from each other, nor can you set them too close.
If set apart in longer intervals, the video stream may not be capable of responding when there is a network hitch. If kept too close, the quality of the live stream will deplete. A keyframe interval of 2 to 3 seconds between each other works fine in most cases.
5. Don’t Overload Your Encoder
An encoder is the bridge that forges a connection between your camera and the user’s screen. The encoder is what transmits the video as it is from the camera across the Internet to the user screen. That said, it is obvious that your encoder will have to handle serious traffic regularly.
If you pile it with additional heavy-duty tasks like recording the live stream simultaneously, there is a huge risk that the encoder will snap from functioning. This will inevitably cause live streaming issues. However, this should not happen if you pick a conducive encoder that can handle heavy-duty live streaming as well as its recording easily.
6. Pick Wired Encoder Above a Wireless One
Wireless encoders are good and helps reduce the clutter in a physical recording environment. But, they have some inherent cons. Wi-fi connected encoders might get their signals messed with neighboring signals. Also, if there are plenty of users logging into the same wifi network, the live stream has a fatty chance of being disrupted.
If using a wireless encoder is the only option you have, go for a dedicated wifi with good throw area for a buffer-free live stream. On the other hand, you can go for a wired encoder which will ensure that the stream flows uninterruptedly at all times.
Winding it Up
These are the common issues that creates live streaming buffering issues. As you can see, most of issues are caused because of poor choice of encoders, network incompetencies or due to the keyframe positioning.
All this feels over too over the top for you? A live streaming solution can make things easier. From encoding the video to compressing it for global delivery, the solution can take care of everything without putting much pressure on you.