Engage viewers in new ways made possible by ultra-low latency video streaming

CharlieK Headshot

By: Charles Kraus, Senior Product Marketing Manager

March 11, 2021

Are You Ready to Capitalize on Ultra-Low Latency Streaming Opportunities?

If your past year has been anything like mine, it has involved a lot of video streaming.

Netflix, Disney+ and other top OTT video services immediately come to mind, of course. But if you think about it, video streaming has ultimately crept into nearly every facet of our daily lives.

Work, family, and friends are often only accessible via Zoom. Students stream courses online every day. And attending live events now often means accessing the live stream from the comfort — or confinement — of your couch.

So, given the ways we all interact with video streaming every day, is it any surprise that we're trying to make it a better and more engaging social experience with Ultra-low latency streaming?

What is Ultra-Low Latency Video Streaming?

Ultra-low latency video streaming is, quite simply, realtime streaming with practically no delay between what's happening live and what you're seeing on your screen.

Ex Machina Group offers a really great in-depth explanation of ultra-low latency1. But to summarize, here are the technical definitions of different types of latencies:

  • Legacy — 20—45+ seconds of delay, acceptable for most social media platforms and some cable TV programs and live linear streaming
  • Reduced Latency — 5–20 seconds, matches typical traditional broadcast and cable latency in the 5-8 second range, common for e-sports and cable TV programs
  • Low Latency — 3–7 seconds, perfect for large sports and other live events. The match to broadcast latency makes for great second screen viewing.
  • Ultra-Low Latency — Sub-second, typical of voice chat, and highly interactive live entertainment like online trivia or online casinos will require sub-second latency, along with in-event live sports wagering.
  • But looking at these differences, you might naturally pose a valid question: do a few seconds really matter?

    In some cases the answer is a resounding yes. And for other cases, offering streaming at ultra-low latency is just a way to stay ahead of — or keep up with — the competition.

    Use Cases for Ultra-Low Latency Video Streaming

    When thinking about the implications of ultra-low latency video streaming, it's difficult to think of industries that won't be impacted by it.

    Media and entertainment probably come to mind first as industries that can use ultra-low latency to their advantage. Here are just a few:

    More Capabilities for E-Learning

    Better remote educational experiences aren't limited to future doctors. Students at all levels can take advantage of ultra-low latency video streaming.

    Sander Tamm, founder and CEO of E-Student2 and an expert in online education platforms and course delivery believes online education is actually one of the best use cases for ultra-low latency video streaming. He points out that "it allows for greater interaction between the instructors and students, with real-time commenting and Q&A, as a side benefit to higher video quality for lessons."

    But ultra-low latency streaming can also help educators outside of a traditional lecturing structure. Tamm believes it "opens up the doors to new adventures for students." A single teacher might take their classes on a field trip by visiting an educational site and streaming their visit.

    And even when we're all allowed to go outside again, Tamm points out that ultra-low latency streaming also gives students access to "places where current legacy latency streaming would be inadequate, like laboratories, ancient ruins, or historical sites." Access to these hard-to-visit places gives both students and educators the opportunity to expand learning horizons.

    Fair Online Casino and Auction Experiences

    With more states approving online betting,3 it's essential that online gamblers all see the turn of a card at the same time to place their bets on time. Ultra-low latency allows for a smooth betting experience, with the ability to place bets quickly based on real-time information.

    Online auctions rely on similar near-real-time interactions. Lags and delays in placing bids could result in lost lots or unfairly missing a chance to outbid the competition. Without a reliable ultra-low latency connection, bidders might forego online auctions. And that means auctioneers will lose revenue as frustrated auction-goers leave streamed events.

    Beating the Live Streaming competition

    For media and entertainment companies, ultra-low latency capabilities are more than a flashy addition to streaming options. As more providers offer near-real-time experiences, those who don't will be rejected by consumers.

    Shayne Sherman, CEO of Techloris, puts it this way: "If an industry professional cannot offer low latency, they will not be able to keep up with the others in the field at all." He points out that lagless viewing is "something that a lot of people look for in the society of instant gratification."4

    With ultra-low latency, media and entertainment companies can offer live-streamed events with practically no delays. But they can also offer more interactive experiences for viewers to keep them engaged on multiple screens.

    Without ultra-low latency streaming capabilities, entertainment companies will, by definition, be behind the competition. And they'll lose the opportunity to engage viewers before, during, and after a live-streamed event to platforms that offer better, more entertaining viewing experiences.

    How Will You Offer Ultra-Low Latency Streaming Experiences in Your Industry?

    Consumers will soon expect lagless experiences as more companies take advantage of ultra-low latency offerings. Companies who fall behind will lose viewers, gamers, gamblers, and auction attendees. Ultra-low latency streaming offers huge opportunities for advancement and innovation. With better, more accessible healthcare and education, providers can improve many lives in many ways. And finally, fewer robots will drown with ultra-low latency streaming making real-time machine interventions possible.

    No matter your field or industry, Limelight can help you take advantage of the many exciting opportunities realtime streaming presents for you.

    Limelight Realtime Streaming enables realtime interactivity to help you keep viewers engaged and maintain real-time connections with consumers. Use our Playbook for Delivering High-Profile Streaming Events and avoid losing customers and revenue — and stay on top of industry innovations.


    1. https://medium.com/exmachinagroup/the-ultra-low-latency-video-streaming-roadmap-from-webrtc-to-cmaf-5b0d8b4ceec2

    2. https://e-student.org

    3. https://elitesportsny.com/2020/12/16/what-will-ny-online-sports-betting-look-like-when-approved/#:~:text=Believe%20it%20or%20not%2C%20sports,sports%20betting%20that%20is%20not

    4. https://techloris.com