While most live platforms and video playback tools have been slow to adopt HEVC, many broadcasters and streamers have already begun to take advantage of the data savings that HEVC compression offers.
In fact, did you know our encoders already do this? That’s right, our Cube, Slice and T-Rax encoders allow for streaming in both AVC (H.264) & HEVC (H.265) to destinations that support it. This includes current-generation Teradek decoders for point-to-point IP video, as well as Core for cloud-based stream management.
Transcoding in Core
Core is where HEVC really shines. One of the main features of Core is HEVC transcoding, which allows you to stream video to Core in HEVC, convert it to AVC, and send to your live platforms.
What are the benefits to doing this? By sending the stream in HEVC to Core, you’re effectively spending only half the bandwidth of an AVC video, but achieving the same video quality. This helps to save a ton of data, with no extra cost to you.
Companies like Drop-In TV has been doing this. As the main broadcaster for the Ironman Triathlon 2018 in Europe, they’ve been streaming HEVC video from several Cubes and Bonds to Core from all across the continent, which is pulled down to their production studio, mixed for the final edits and published to the television program. This has allowed Drop-In TV camera ops to travel thousands of miles in remote areas and keep a solid feed all throughout.
Doing this was a no-brainer for them. HEVC allows them to spend less data to send a stream to their studio, which means keeping costs low. Additionally, because they have to stream from mountains, cities and countrysides, being able to send a high-def stream at lower bitrates ensures they can send the stream reliably.
So let’s take a look at why HEVC could be a great solution for you:
It’s Perfect for Broadcasting in Remote Areas
As a broadcaster, it’s almost inevitable that at some point, you’ll have to stream from somewhere with little to no cellular signal. Sports games, destination weddings, news in outlying locations. In these scenarios, you either hire a broadcast truck with expensive satellite equipment, or you settle for sending lower-quality video to viewers at home.
But HEVC is poised to remedy this. By requiring less bandwidth to stream compared to AVC, you can set a lower bitrate to publish high-quality video.
For example, say you’re broadcasting a fishing tournament at a lake, and your 4G LTE connection is only giving you 3Mbps. If you streamed in AVC, this could achieve a 720p video at most. But by streaming in HEVC, that same bitrate can achieve 1080p resolution, giving your viewers a much better overall experience.
And RF Congested Locations
We might not be able to see it, but our airwaves are jam-packed with RF signals from all of our modern wireless devices. You can see this in locations where there are tons of people, and your phone loses its ability to do anything.
Similarly, even when multiple users share a wired network, the pipeline can become congested to the point of hampering your uplink. Congested areas are unavoidable now, so broadcasting needs to be more efficient.
Streaming with HEVC over AVC will help tremendously. Since you only need half the bitrate to send a stream out, you not only save money on data, but also have a lower chance of being bottlenecked by congestion. In areas like conventions where multiple companies are sharing a single network, this could be the difference between providing solid, high-def video and a spotty one for your viewers.
No Major Platforms Support HEVC/H.265 Yet
This may be true, but that hasn’t stopped many broadcasters from fully utilizing the efficiency HEVC offers. How do they do this? With Teradek Core.
When streaming from the EVO tournament in Las Vegas, the Twitch production crew needed a cost-effective way to provide video for tens of thousands of viewers. While Twitch doesn’t support HEVC natively, the Twitch team used the Teradek Cube to send an HEVC stream to Core. The stream was transcoded in Core to AVC, and then published to Twitch.
So while major platforms don’t support the compression standard currently, Core provides a practical alternative to achieve these streams.
It Saves Data/Money
Cost is the achilles heel of broadcasting, and while 4G LTE doesn’t cost as much as traditional broadcast trucks, it could add up if you’re streaming for long hours. Unlimited plans also suffer from throttling, and that’s the last thing you want during a broadcast.
It’s a no brainer then that HEVC helps to save on data, and thus money. It operates with 40-50% more efficiency than AVC video, meaning you spend less data to get your content to its destination. For on-demand network plans, this can save you a fortune. For unlimited plans, this gives you extra room before you hit the 4G cap.
When streaming from the EVO tournament in Las Vegas, the Twitch crew needed a way to broadcast to thousands of viewers with a low budget. To save on data, they streamed HEVC using the Teradek Cube to Core. Read more about that here.
It Pairs Incredibly Well w/ the Teradek Bond
The Bond is a 4G LTE bonding encoder that combines up to 5x cellular USB modems into a single Internet network. Used by broadcast professionals, the Bond ensures that the streams get as much network redundancy as possible so the video stays smooth all throughout.
HEVC complements the Bond in three ways. First, the smaller data usage allows Bond users to stream with more confidence. Even if a connection drops, the additional modems could easily fill in the gap. Essentially, it’s much easier for Bond to provide a smooth, reliable HD stream with HEVC compression.
Second, Bond is essential for many production houses to stream reliably, and multiple SIMs on the Bond using data can get expensive, which can be prohibitive for organizations looking to broadcast an event. But using HEVC video, the costs of streaming with the Bond are reduced significantly.
Third, the Bond requires a Core subscription to bond cellular networks anyway. If you’re already enjoying the features in Core, you can easily add HEVC into the mix.
There’s no need to wait for mass adoption to start using HEVC because Teradek already provides a streamlined way to do it. The growing demand for live streaming by organizations large and small means that live video will continue to rise in popularity. The technology and costs must adapt to meet these demands, and HEVC is the best way to do it.
Learn more about Core here.