When the reality is that YouTube can block or demonetize your channel at any time, and you have fewer rights than a tenant in a rented apartment, it becomes necessary to find the best way to share your video content.
However, this issue is not limited to YouTube. Annoyances such as a single point of failure, the threat of censorship, and a closed ecosystem managed by a large organization that dictates the terms and conditions for using streaming services are inherent in all centralized streaming platforms.
Does this mean that video content creators can only put up with the inconvenience? Far from it, as long as there are decentralized streaming solutions.
What is decentralized video streaming?
Decentralized video streaming is Peer-to-Peer (P2P) video streaming using blockchain technology. Unlike centralized platforms, media content in a P2P network is transmitted directly from content creators to the audience without the involvement of intermediaries.
If you are familiar with the principle of torrenting, where network users share files directly, and the download speed depends on the number of such participants (the more, the better), it will be easier for you to understand how blockchain streaming sites work.
Through the use of blockchain technologies, audio and video broadcasts are gradually acquiring clear features of the new postmodern mass media, and decentralization allows any participant to create, upload, and promote their own content.
Features of decentralized video streaming
The use of blockchain technology is driving a number of positive changes in the streaming industry. This is mainly due to some of the features that alternative ways of storing and delivering video content possess.
Decentralized platforms provide many various ways to monetize streaming. Financial transactions on such platforms are possible only if tokens are used, which can be purchased both for “conventional” money and for cryptocurrency. Streaming tokenization is a major benefit of decentralized platforms. It contributes not only to higher, but also faster rewards for participants and the audience. It is the blockchain that provides the highest speed of transactions.
Decentralized platforms significantly expand the opportunities for earning money on streaming. The main income sources are:
- subscription to the streamer’s channel;
- paid tasks for a streamer;
- tasks from the streamer to users who receive rewards for successful completion;
- content creation on the platform;
- streamer promotion;
- drawing prizes on crypto exchanges;
- premium channel subscriptions;
- reward users for watching streaming broadcasts.
Streaming activities require storage space for large files. The point is that each finished video product, as a rule, has several different versions of the video file, which are recorded for different file formats, bitrates, and frame sizes. In addition, high-resolution video leads to larger file size, and if you are editing a record, you will most likely end up with multiple versions of the same work (original and edited ones).
Also, those who intend to cover the global market with their media content will have to create duplicate video files that will be stored on edge servers and content delivery networks (CDN) distributed in different regions of the world. All this adds to storage costs.
Blockchain-based media content creation and storage reduces costs by up to 80%. In addition, it eliminates the additional cost of distributing content across multiple regions, and the global peer-to-peer sharing system improves performance and scalability.
The use of blockchain technologies greatly increases the functionality and security of financial transactions. At the same time, thanks to the blockchain, the speed of transactions is also increasing.
As for content security, it is achieved by a reliable infrastructure, without a single point of failure, file encryption, and non-fungible tokens, which can also be a way to prove ownership.
To use the services of streaming platforms, you must comply with their terms and conditions, which are often too restrictive for content creators. Plus, no one wants to live with the constant fear of being banned for any reckless word or opinion expressed.
In decentralized streaming, power is not concentrated in one place, so it is not the corporation that dictates the rules, but the entire society. Therefore, you should not be afraid that your channel, on which you have worked for so long, may suddenly become objectionable to the government and be deleted.
Centralized platforms are frequently criticized for distributing rewards unfairly between them and content creators. No less annoying are unreasonable and incomprehensible content promotion algorithms, when great videos with good statistics are ignored and not displayed at the top. In fact, it is very difficult to create a fair algorithm due to the availability of buying fake likes and followers. This is where smart contracts come in.
The use of smart contracts in blockchain streaming solves many regulatory issues. They have clearly defined rules for the distribution of money, video promotion algorithms, and much more. The code of smart contracts is public and cannot be changed.
3 Decentralized Video Streaming Solutions
Livepeer: Transcoding Solution
Companies that want to stream video can spend a lot of money, especially if they want to reach a broad audience. And, perhaps, the most expensive stage in this process is transcoding, which endows the video adaptive properties. Thanks to this, it can adapt to the characteristics of devices and network bandwidth of various users.
On a cloud service like Amazon, transcoding costs about $3 per stream per hour, can reach up to $4,500 per month for a single media server, and up to $1,500 per month for a content delivery network, excluding internet costs.
It’s no wonder why developers started looking for a solution that could make media content production more convenient, cheaper, and scalable. And they have found it!
Livepeer is a blockchain platform running on the Ethereum network. It is mainly designed for streaming and watching high-quality videos.
The project is useful for three user groups:
- developers who create applications with live streaming or video-on-demand features;
- users who wish to broadcast their videos;
- major broadcasters like Twitch.
The ambitious goal of the Livepeer project is to increase the reliability of live video streaming and reduce its costs by up to 50 times.
Although Livepeer operates on the Ethereum blockchain, the project uses its own ERC-20 token, LPT. The token is responsible for node operation, load balancing, transaction security and network management, and is also used in staking.
Orchestrators (nodes) provide the Livepeer network with their computer resources such as CPU, GPU, and bandwidth in video transcoding and distribution services, in return for payment in Ethereum tokens or stablecoins.
Delegators are some kind of sponsors of the Livepeer network, keeping it working and secure by staking their own LPT tokens, for which they receive a reward.
Broadcasters who stream or host their videos using Livepeer pay a fee in ETH, the amount of which depends on the target audience coverage and the number of formats and bitrates of the final media file.
In addition, you can earn on the Livepeer network by mining new tokens using the minting method.
As of today, there are 4,301 Livepeer members who keep the network secure and up and running.
Storj: Video Storage Solution
High-quality video is usually about large files that need to be stored somewhere. The same video can and most likely will have several versions, as it will be re-encoded for different file formats, bit rates and frame sizes. And in the process of editing, even more duplicates are created. All this requires a lot of space for storing such media files.
Centralization of storage is associated with high costs. In addition, it has scalability issues and is susceptible to security threats.
Storj DCS is an innovative approach to storing media content through a global distribution network of independent node operators.
This solution not only provides significant cost savings but also has a high level of security. Any service responsible for storing media content must not only guarantee protection against malware but also against bit rot.
The absence of a single point of failure or central storage already enhances Storj DCS’s ability to protect video files stored on its network. But there is, even more, to offer to its users.
Storj DCS’ list of security mechanisms includes end-to-end file upload encryption, Identity and Access Management (IAM), and macaroon-based access control, which grants access to data only to its owner.
Each uploaded media file in Storj DCS is split into 80 or more encrypted fragments and distributed across a number of different nodes around the world. In addition, to prevent the risk of file loss or damage, Storj DCS provides a recovery function and regular cryptographic audit of data.
Storj DCS has about 11,000 different nodes and ISPs and operates in over 85 countries.
Theta: Bandwidth Solution
Another project offering solutions to problems that arise in the streaming sector is Theta Network. In particular, the decentralized network uses the excess bandwidth and processing power of its users (nodes) so that others can stream without delay and without compromising video quality. By sharing bandwidth and attracting new members to the network, nodes are rewarded with tokens. For these purposes, a token called THETA was issued, which can also be obtained through mining.
Theta users have access to global video content and data delivery infrastructure. This open-source project streams esports, music, TV/movies, education, corporate conferences, P2P streaming, and more.
Another important advantage of the Theta network is its scalability and interoperability. The network supports the development of vertical decentralized applications (Dapps). Developers create apps based on the platform and use its advanced technical toolset.
How to choose a decentralized streaming video development service provider?
Obviously, decentralized streaming is a new step in the video production industry. However, since this field is expanding very rapidly, there are many companies offering blockchain-based app development.
When choosing a potential development company, pay attention to how long it has been in the market and how its customers, especially those whose activities are roughly in the same industry as yours, speak of it.
A good streaming video development company should provide you with clear documentation, including recommendations for setting up, installing, and using the software.
In addition, the availability of a support and maintenance service is an important component of any decentralized streaming video development service provider.
A skilled development team, a well-thought-out strategy, and solid space for deploying streaming activities guarantee success and eliminate all the disadvantages associated with centralized solutions.