Unreal Live Streaming Service: Revolutionizing the Way We Stream

by Dora

Live streaming has seen tremendous growth in recent years. According to data collected by Streamlabs, in December 2020 there were 4.8 million concurrent viewers on the streaming platform Twitch, the highest number in the platform’s history. Other platforms such as YouTube and Facebook Gaming also enjoyed record numbers last year. The statistics make this an exciting time to be involved in game streaming. As content creators grow their channels and strategically position themselves, it is clear that there is a critical synergy between the games and the streaming audience and an underserved need for meaningful viewer interaction. This is an area where Unreal Engine can have a big impact on how the viewers engage with the game content. With the high-quality visuals and immersive gameplay UE is known for, it’s a natural fit to create entertaining viewer experiences, but it’s not widely understood how developers can best accomplish that. This blog outlines some of the key considerations for integrating streaming and viewer interaction features into your game. For the purpose of this blog, we’re focusing on game-integrated streaming and interactions using blueprints. We’re assuming that readers already have a basic understanding of how to set up a streaming project and will provide additional resources for those who want to get started with the basics.

The Rise of Live Streaming

Live streaming, by definition, is the broadcasting of live video or audio footage over the internet. In the mid-2010s, it was an implied sentiment that video gaming would, as a matter of course, lead industry trends, the most successful of which was the emergence of eSports. To accommodate the increasing demand for more accessible information, video streaming services (over-the-top content) and the widespread use of social media for advertising and creating content began to shift focus towards video media, which prompted the migration from text and image-based platforms to dedicated video platforms. The phenomenon of sharing one’s consoles and experiences live online easily spread. Every day, tens of thousands of the highest skilled computer and console game players compete for viewers and an audience who seek to learn and be entertained. It was soon discovered that the practice of simply playing video games live to an audience would be the most viable way of becoming a professional gamer or entertainer, leading to the creation of casual and professional gaming communities centered on a shared interest in spectating video games.

The Need for Innovation in Live Streaming Services

Today, the live streaming industry is a growing market, and these growing numbers show that consumers are willing to pay top dollar for a faster internet connection, which will improve their streaming experience. In 2016, it was reported that over 46% of viewers were willing to pay for better access to live streaming content, and by 2019, consumer spending on live streaming content had increased to $21.50 per month. This growth will continue over the next two years, with a forecast that by 2021, the average monthly spend will increase to $44.44. 57% of all live streaming viewers are under the age of 35, meaning that this is the generation that will continue to mold and change the streaming market as time progresses. With this fast-growing market, live streaming providers continuously need to improve the quality of service they provide and search for new ways to bring in new customers and keep the old ones loyal. There are many ways in which to grow a company, but it always starts with the product they provide. Today, we will take a deeper look into what kind of innovations live streaming providers can offer to give them a head start on the competition and make them leaders in the market. Let’s first look at improving the service itself.

Understanding Unreal Live Streaming

What is Unreal Live Streaming? Unreal Live Streaming is the first state of the art high-speed live video streaming software. Our streaming solution is optimized for video transmission, which allows for the highest levels of video quality and low transmission cost. In technical terms, ours is the first software to utilize data encapsulation, which allows for packets of data to be sent via UDP or TCP with little or no overhead through a managed network. This allows for the highest quality video transmission using our custom codecs based off of the H.264 standard with less than 1% loss up to 10 Mbps. While we are not the first video streaming software to be made, we have been the first to take advantage of the increasingly faster internet connections and vastly lower data transmission costs that are now available. Our streaming software was designed so that it could be utilized for anything from a video phone to a live television station, we just wanted to provide a viable alternative to lower quality video transmission through excessive data compression.

Imagine that one could have an internet connection over 100 times faster than today’s fastest connection (1.5 Mbps), with a bandwidth over 1000 times larger than today’s streaming media. Now imagine that one could take a high-resolution movie, let’s say a 1080p frame of 1920 x 1080 pixels for example, and then break it up into not a stream, but a flow of billions of still images per second. – Unreal.com.

What is Unreal Live Streaming?

Unreal Live Streaming was designed to be implemented using a subset of the User Datagram Protocol (UDP). The decision to use UDP was made after comparing the UDP and TCP protocols for streaming applications and games, and because ULS was designed for streaming, it was believed that the less robust but lower latency UDP was sufficient. Although, as was learned during development, something to investigate in the future would be how well ULS could be implemented using TCP to take advantage of the higher reliability of TCP and avoid all the headaches of keeping track of data and performance over multiple UDP connections.

Unreal Live Streaming (ULS) is a system for delivering live video and audio content in real time to client PCs over a data network. It was developed by students from the University of Melbourne for their subject Third Year Project (CITS3402) in Semester 2, 2014.

How Unreal Live Streaming Works

The broadcast is done using a special server for Unreal that sends data from a television capture device or pre-encoded files to a RealProducer server. The data is received by the server and pushed to an HTTP buffer for transport to the viewers. At this point, users will connect to the event using the media player. Upon connection, the media player is informed about the stream by the RealPlayer server and data is sent directly from the server to the viewer’s media player. This gives the broadcaster the ability to control who views their streams. By setting permissions on directories and files, the broadcaster can keep the stream private or password protect it for exclusive viewing. This can also be done by altering the attributes of the stream using the broadcast panel on the media server. With Unreal Live, content is king and the user controls who gets to view their content.

Unreal Live is an innovative streaming service that takes advantage of the bi-directional capabilities of the real-time relay server. Simply put, rather than everyone watching a broadcast of an event, each person connects directly to the person hosting the event. With the Unreal Live streaming solution, users can broadcast an event from their location and other users can connect into the event to watch the live events as they unfold. And because of the nature of Unreal media and streaming, you get the convenience of a user interface on the client side and very little plug-in development on the server/host side.

Benefits of Unreal Live Streaming

In a recent study, it is reported that all the streaming traffic is high about 30.6% comparing to earlier days. Also, one more study has proved that there is an increase in live streaming with a growth of 60% of live streams. So now it is a scenario that in the future, live streaming is going to conquer the streaming traffic. Live streaming has been increasing in popularity as more and more people become aware of increased levels of broadband and mobile connections available to consumers, and also witnessing improved quality with new technologies. While there are several ways to distribute and define the live streams, such as live events, live linear channels, and live interactive broadcasting. However, consumption of live video is often looked down upon. No method is more efficient than being able to deliver video over Internet Protocol. Delivering video via IP opens up a whole new way to reach your audience and offer a viewing experience which is no different than traditional live television broadcasting. Only now, for the first time, Unreal Live Streaming extends its new way of streaming a live video in an IPTV to the most powerful middleware platform for a TV and video solution across various networks. By using the current infrastructure of your cable or satellite distributors, coupled with set-top boxes, you are able to map out a plan to seamlessly deliver live video to its subscribers.

Exploring Hybrid Live Streaming

Anybody who has seen multiple subscription on-demand streaming services knows all too well the frustration of not being able to find a specific TV show or movie because it is scattered across too many different platforms. Anime fans especially are well acquainted with the pain of tracking down the one legal site and way to watch the latest and greatest series. Anime, it turns out, has a rather large fan-base within the gaming community and so it’s not too farfetched to think that someone wants to watch a game that is based off a certain anime series. With Hybrid Game-casting, one could play the game in question whilst watching said anime to give the series fans a chance to see how the game holds up to the source material. Now consider using PSNow’s software rental to play a game that you do not own or is on a platform you no longer have. Step this up, and for something that has seen various success in the past, there would be potential in the future to stream both video game demos and rental of the game itself, from a single powerful streaming service platform.

With the idea of cloud-based assistive gaming already becoming a reality, the first logical step is to consider how players use the streaming platform and how developers could reach them best. There’s no doubt that much of what has been discussed benefits streamers greatly, giving them a chance to engage with and expand their audience. But for gaming professionals or companies trying to market a product, the best method may involve more direct interaction with the audience. Typically, event marketing or exposing a new product involves a downloadable playable demo of some sort, followed by feedback from those who have tried it. Consider a means to connect developers with their audience in real-time and allowing them to stream their demo online, taking peoples questions and comments while they play. For the indie-developer, setting up a trial period or releasing their game early is often not feasible and may result in lost interest or a product that has been over-hyped and under-delivered. Simulation of the process mentioned above can in fact be done through what we would call Hybrid Game-casting, and is a very real possibility now that parsec and its likes, have paved the way for cloud-based gaming. An extension to this would be the ability for the developer or presenter to give control of his/her software to the observer and granting them a short play-test at no risk to an early or unpublished product.

Hybrid Live Streaming: A Combination of the Best

Hybrid live streaming utilizes previous methods used to host video content which is accessible via the internet. This includes using an embedded video player on a website and video on demand services. Using these methods, media is encoded and uploaded to the cloud using a service providing platform or video content management system. The content can then be monetized by setting up a paywall, which in turn blocks the content preventing users from accessing it until they have made the required payment. This is a highly effective method of monetization for the content.

Hybrid live streaming is referred to as one of the best strategies to carry out a successful live stream broadcast and is definitely the up and coming method for the future of online stream broadcasting. Hybrid live streaming allows you greater control and flexibility while using the power of the live stream. This method allows you to create a higher quality of service for the viewer while increasing the possibility of a return on investment.

Advantages of Hybrid Live Streaming

Hybrid Live Streaming Studio is an advantageous and unique approach to video production. When opting to produce live video content, a video production service can use the studio to produce video content before a live internet audience. This is accomplished by broadcasting from the Hybrid Studio. With traditional online video production, the final video is the product. The advantages of using a Hybrid Studio over traditional post-production are the ability to interact live with an audience and the cost savings on post-production. By streaming the production of the video, the service can interact with an audience, receive real-time feedback, and even invite viewers to participate in the video. This allows the interactive creation of video content. After the live production, the video can be edited and replayed on a video on demand service. There is also potential that various excerpts of the video can be edited and released as separate VODs. So the final product is still video on demand, but there is potential to build a more dedicated audience by creating video content as a live event. Hybrid Studio streaming has a big advantage over competition streaming video game play. Video games are interactive by nature and are best enjoyed in a live environment with an audience. Video game streamers may wish to create video content highlighting new game strategies or playing in a tournament. In most cases it is impractical to hire a full video production team to create polished video content for simple game play. However, this is the best way to provide non-live VOD content for a single player game. A streamer can simply play the game in a Hybrid Studio and provide commentary while having interaction with a smaller audience. The streamed video will act as a rough draft and can be edited into a higher quality VOD. This satisfies the need for non-live video game content and still preserves the ability to interact with an audience and build up an audience fan base.

Examples of Successful Hybrid Live Streaming Platforms

Cisco is a great example of a company that has utilized a hybrid streaming platform to communicate to various groups both internally and externally. They are using a combination of live webcasting and on-demand streaming from publishing points located behind their firewall. Their objective is to effectively communicate to a global audience of employees, customers, and partners with a consistent message on various issues. They found that live webcasting was the best way to reach employees but also wanted to archive the content for later viewing by customers and partners. They did not feel that using a third-party CDN for everything was the best solution given the fact that much of the content was sensitive. Their solution was to use their own internal network for live events and an external CDN only for the publishing of on-demand content to customers and partners. This would allow them to fulfill both viewing needs with a consistent message. A similar strategy has been used by other companies and is a great example of how well internal and external live and on-demand technologies can be mixed to accomplish a specific communication goal.

Many different organizations, ranging from entertainment groups to Fortune 1000 companies, have taken advantage of this exciting new communications medium to produce and deliver live and on-demand programming to very specific groups of people. They do this by creating and integrating their own ‘hybrid’ streaming platforms. These hybrid platforms are a combination of both live and on-demand technologies, often involving the use of internal and external CDNs. The information shared and the platforms themselves are usually quite sensitive and proprietary, so in many cases the examples given below are somewhat vague. However, they all serve as good examples involving how well-known companies have taken advantage of both live and on-demand networks to accomplish specific communication objectives.

Unreal Live Streaming Service in Singapore

Singapore has seen a growing demand for live streaming, with more and more people turning to the internet and mobile devices for watching videos and listening to music. This trend is expected to continue, with digital music and video revenues reaching S$244.6 million and S$221.6 million respectively in 2020. Local consumers are also likely to spend more on digital entertainment, with spending projected to hit S$2.19 billion in 2020; translating to an annual spend per user of S$400. Underpinning the increasing consumption of digital music and video is an important global consumer trend – the consumption of on-demand streaming services. Much of the growth in music and video in Singapore can be attributed to the increased adoption of premium subscription services, as more Singaporeans are realizing the value and experience that these services provide. Audio subscription revenues are expected to grow from S$22.8 million in 2015 to S$78.2 million in 2020. On average, Singapore music consumers are likely to spend S$48 a year on subscription services in 2020. Subscriptions today already account for a total of 76% of digital music revenue in Singapore, and this proportion will only increase over time. With the presence of premium subscription services, consumers would be seeking ways to enjoy their content on these services, and engaging an audience through live streaming has become one of the most popular methods today. While creating a subscription on an on-demand service to access recorded streams is still an option, live streaming has become an attractive feature for both content creators and consumers. It allows for a unique and often more personalized experience for viewers, and creators are able to easily engage an audience while receiving direct feedback. Singapore consumers have explored various live streaming services, from popular platforms like Twitch and YouTube Gaming, to a variety of other third-party services. The overall quality of live streaming has improved over the years, and the transcoding options and features are generally affordable and accessible for most content creators. However, most live streaming services do not consider the needs of content creators and consumers for a particular market. With the case of Singapore, internet and mobile network speeds are generally faster and more reliable as compared to many other countries. Additionally, Singaporeans are often using rather advanced technology to access digital entertainment. However, it is common to see services catering to a global audience being used in Singapore, and these services may not be the most suitable due to limitations on servers and networking options in other countries. Content creators may also not have the time and expertise to configure particular streaming settings, and consumers may be confused with streaming choices and options that are not targeted at them. The end result would be a service that can be inconsistent and inconvenient for everyone involved. This is where Unreal Live Streaming service has significant potential to transform the live streaming market in Singapore.

The Growing Demand for Live Streaming in Singapore

This is highly evident to the staff at Unreal who regularly find themselves needing to educate potential customers on what exactly live streaming is; compared to on-demand video content, and what the benefits of using live streaming are in comparison to traditional TV broadcasts, or static forms of online media. These discussions often lead to insights from a potential client on the benefits of live streaming, before the conversation will once again take another turn as the potential client realizes the potential synchronization of their 3D game content with live streamed events, making for a highly impressive immersive experience for the gamer and/or viewer themselves. Step by step, the demand is growing as people from various industries in Singapore edge closer towards understanding the SGD$1.5 million that Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has invested to push the development of rich media and live streaming.

The growing demand for the Unreal Live Streaming Service in Singapore is readily apparent. Customers have a seemingly insatiable appetite for live streamed content, with access to online broadcasts of a multitude of important events. These span a wide array of categories such as music, sports, and eGaming. Unreal’s recent forays into combining live streaming with 3D are currently unprecedented and are a brand new area of VoD content delivery – and as such can also be considered a new untapped market specifically targeted at Singapore.

How Unreal Live Streaming is Transforming the Singaporean Market

The Singaporean Government has also been showing support towards live streaming and Internet broadcasting mediums. A recent example would be MDA having hosted the first Media Fiesta during the June 2015 IT Show which included live streaming and podcasting workshops.

As an alternative to regular advertising and online marketing, live streaming provides a media platform for brands and businesses to interact with their target audience through interactive broadcasting live events. The result could range from building brand awareness and customer rapport to driving significant sales revenue. Studies by MediaSG and The Straits Times have shown that internet/smart device users in Singapore are increasingly moving towards new media such as blogs and social networks while traditional media are on the decline. With the rising consumption of internet related services, live streaming included, it is apparent that this trend is only poised for further growth in the coming years. Litchfield believes that by 2018, 80% of revenue growth in the media and entertainment industry in APAC will be driven by internet consumption, thus bringing new life to an already flourishing industry.

Live streaming is quickly becoming an integral part of online activities, ranging from social media interactions to e-commerce, in which industries, services and content creators are looking to tap into this trend as a means of staying relevant and engaging their target audience. In Singapore, the live streaming industry has been undergoing a significant amount of growth due to rising consumption of online related services and an increasing prevalence of smart devices with internet connectivity. ABI research has shown that Singapore is amongst the top 10 countries worldwide with the highest smartphone penetration rate. It is forecasted that 70.8% of the populace would be utilizing a smart device with internet capabilities by 2017.

Key Features of Unreal Live Streaming Service in Singapore

Usage of the advanced features and extensive options available throughout Unreal Live makes it ideal to ensure event organizers and planners are able to truly express the individuality of their events. With features such as multiple audiostream capability and the use of the Tricaster broadcast systems, event video producers have the ability to switch between multiple sources of audio and video in real time ensuring their event is captured exactly how they want. The use of Tricaster broadcast systems will in effect allow video producers to control the camera switching of their event wherever it may be. With the ability to control the Tricaster system remotely or simply contract the services of our experienced videographers, Unreal Live is capable of providing the production value of any streamed event to a level never seen before in Australasia. When using Unreal Live for promotion of an event or simply amalgamating video footage of the event, event organizers can capture all their video to the one computer without the need for multiple capture devices or the sifting through multiple files and formats. With the captured video held on the event video producers computer, post production work can proceed much faster and in the event that live streamed video is to be saved and archived, there will be no loss of quality as the captured video will be exactly the same as the live streamed video.

You may also like