Since 2019, low and ultra-low latency video delivery for live streaming has been a hot topic among vendors in the content delivery network (CDN) market. Frost & Sullivan has seen a disconnect between what CDNs are selling and what customers want to deploy, which is the point of this survey sent via email to industry professionals across the media, broadcast, publishing, and OTT verticals. A total of 104 people responded.

The idea of low latency is to reduce the amount of delay between the live video stream of an event on the internet versus the traditional broadcast feed on TV. Historically, live streaming events could be as much as 1 minute behind the TV feed.

While some have suggested that this delay provides a poor user experience, multiple factors have prevented low and ultra-latency technology from being adopted at scale.

Many content owners, broadcasters, and over-the-top providers do not gain any business benefit by adopting low-latency live video streaming: enabling the functionality does not generate more viewers or additional advertising revenue. When they look at the additional cost of enabling low-latency streaming technologies and the complexity it adds to their live streaming workflow, the benefits do not outweigh the cost. This is why high-profile events such as the Super Bowl have not implemented any low-latency streaming technology. Ultra-low latency does provide a better user experience and business benefit in specific instances, such as online betting, video surveillance, audio/video calling, and other two-way interactive communications.

For third-party CDNs that deliver a lot of live video streaming, providing low and ultra-low latency solutions is not a big revenue-generating opportunity. It is only being adopted by a small percentage of the market, for niche applications and, many times, in specific countries.