Viacom 18 won the broadcasting rights to exclusively telecast the FIFA World Cup 2022 matches in India. With the approval of the Competition Commission of India (CCI), the amalgamation of Jio Cinema OTT with Viacom 18 fulfilled Jio’s promise to millions of football fans to live stream the World Cup matches for free.
From November 20, 2022, onwards, the Jio Cinema app was the trending topic on the internet, but unfortunately, not for the right reason. From the opening ceremony to the telecast of the first match of the tournament, everything went horribly wrong for the OTT platform. Crashing and buffering became the norm, which left millions of fans fuming. But what caused such a mishap? Read the blog to get a firm idea.
What Is Buffering?
Most people have a vague idea about the concept of buffering. People use the term “buffering” when their content loading delays or stops. Interestingly, this is not the case. Considered to be one of the integral processes of live streaming, buffering refers to the preloading of packets of data in a reserved area of memory (buffer) to provide a smooth audio or video streaming experience. Buffering is not the phase where the audio or video stops, and the spinning wheel of death begins to irritate. It means that buffering has failed. For the sake of the article and simplicity, let us stick to the term “buffering” and understand what causes it.
What Causes Buffering In The Live Stream?
The cause of buffering can be ideally divided into 3 phases:
User level issues
Slow Internet: Every network has a limit through which a maximum amount of data can pass. When a network is approaching its bandwidth limit, the content loading may take some time. Weak WiFi signals or router or modem issues can also be responsible for slowing down the internet speed.
Device Issue: Older devices can also cause buffering, as they do not have the ability to keep up with and maintain today’s internet speed.
Content Type: Standard Definition (SD) videos do not require as much data per frame as high-definition (HD) videos. This makes HD videos demand higher data packets for larger downloads of video segments, which makes the content buffer.
Network level issue
ISP Issue: Similar to WiFi, sometimes the Internet Service Provider (ISP) of the local area is unable to provide proper service due to several malfunctions. This can cause buffering, where users cannot download or watch content smoothly.
Streaming provider issues
Network Strain: If a streaming provider’s network becomes extremely crowded with users’ requests, the content will be bound to buffer due to overload.
Latency: Latency refers to the time taken by data packets to reach one designated point to another. The lower the latency, the less the chance of buffering. The main cause of latency is the distance between servers.
TCP Connection: Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP) collaborate to ensure the smooth delivery of data packets and server connections. Fragmentation in the TCP connection can cause buffering or prevent content from reaching the user.
Jio Cinema’s Cause For Buffering
The World Cup 2018 was watched by 110.5 million people in India alone. Jio Cinema has never hosted such a big event relating to sports with such a viewership. Overcrowding on the platform became the major issue that caused the app to buffer and crash at times. Aside from that, latency, ISP issues, and poor network connection were also contributing factors in many cases.
What Can Users Do To Stop Buffering In The Live Stream?
Users can follow these simple yet useful tactics, which can help them enjoy the live stream:
Turn Off Other Devices
Examine how many devices are linked to the same internet connection. Disconnect them when you are live streaming.
Check For Intruders
Along with checking the number of devices, make sure other people are not using the same network during live streaming.
Use An Ethernet cable
Though cords and cables are boring and tedious, for better quality streaming, it is always advisable to use an Ethernet cable over a wireless connection.
Reboot Is The Key
This may sound funny and weird, but many times rebooting the router, streaming platform, or streaming device helps bring the system back on track to provide seamless services.
Downgrade Streaming Quality
Change the video quality in live streaming apps from auto to medium or low. Though the quality would be inferior, this can help you watch the live streaming without interruptions.
Clean Up Browser Settings
Sometimes cache files in the browser are responsible for slowing down the live stream. Get rid of them.
What Must Streaming Platforms Do To Avoid Buffering?
Streaming platforms must take the following steps to provide their users with a seamless experience:
Before planning to stream any sports competition that will have a massive audience, it is always best to set up simulations and load testing in advance.
Optimize performance to the highest level by selecting the best video content delivery network (CDN) capable of distributing quality streaming over a larger geographical area.
Run Server Maintenance
When there is a possibility of a traffic hike on the streaming platform, make sure there are no bandwidth caps imposed.
Install The Latest Version Of The Software
Outdated software can backfire on streaming companies and leave them vulnerable. Ensuring everything is up to date must be the first priority.
Jio Cinema was able to salvage the situation before the commencement of the next match. But if they had been prepared with the required resources, this mishap could have been easily avoided. Other OTT platforms must take this incident as a lesson for the future and prepare themselves accordingly.