Prime Video Previews Technology to Reduce Streaming Latency; How Will It Affect Future of Live Sports Streaming?
Live sports still have some hurdles to overcome before they can be realistically shifted to a streaming-only format. Putting aside questions of how to get users — especially older fans — to adopt a streaming format for their favorite sports, the biggest issue from a technical standpoint is that of streaming latency.
Latency refers to the delay between what happens on a field or court, and when audiences see it. Latency can creep as high as 30 seconds to a full minute, leaving streaming users forced to keep away from their mobile devices, lest they have an exciting play spoiled by the delay between transmission and reception.
Progress is being made to reduce latency, however. The Fox Sports App was able to reduce latency to almost zero for Super Bowl LVII, meaning streaming customers were actually ahead of cable and broadcast users. The NBA app was also able to slash latency in October, reducing delays by about 70% for its out-of-market games streaming service NBA League Pass.
Now, another major streaming outlet is outlining its moves to reduce latency: Prime Video. At the European Women in Tech conference, Filippa Hasselstrom, head of low-latency streaming at Prime Video, explained how her team is attempting to solve latency issues once-and-for-all.
Hasselstrom’s team is working toward developing a new protocol that will make latency a thing of the past. Their solution is based on user datagram protocol (UDP), which operates more like a sprinter as compared to the transmission control protocol (TCP) that Prime Video currently uses to stream live sports like “Thursday Night Football.”
There are a lot of complex technical details involved, but in short, UDP streamlines all the steps that images must take between being captured by a camera on the field and being transmitted to your device. It would bring users a much closer experience to what they’ve become accustomed to seeing when watching sports on broadcast TV.
That’s excellent news for Prime Video users, as well as for the company. Prime Video is already the exclusive streaming home of “TNF” for years to come, but the service saw smaller audiences than expected for Thursday games in 2022. Reducing latency could convince more hesitant viewers to make the switch and watch “TNF” on Prime Video.
Cutting down on transmission delays could also help Prime Video make the case to other sports leagues to send their games to its platform. Amazon is expected to be interested in making a play for streaming rights to NBA games, which could become available after the 2024-25 season. Prime Video already holds the streaming rights to live NBA games in Brazil.
It’s exciting to watch the new developments Prime Video is making with its transmission technology. The efforts to reduce latency could lead to a better streaming product when it comes to live sports offerings, which is a big issue streamers need to tackle before convincing sports leagues to leave broadcast TV behind.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video is a subscription video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 10,000+ movies, TV shows, and Prime Originals like “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” “Jack Ryan,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “The Boys,” and more. Subscribers can also add third-party services like Showtime, and Starz with Amazon Prime Video Channels. Prime Video also offers exclusive live access to NFL Thursday Night Football.
The Prime Video interface shows content included with your subscription alongside the ad-supported Freevee library and some shows and movies you need to purchase, so be sure to double-check your selection before you watch.
Prime Video is included with Amazon Prime for $12.99 per month ($119 per year), or can be purchased on its own for $8.99 per month.