Why Are Streaming Platforms Crashing Before Popular Finals? – Hollywood Reporter

If you were on Twitter on the night of May 30, also known as easttown mare Finale Night, You Might Have Believed HBO Max failed in one of his tasks. Dozens and dozens of viewers, who eagerly awaited the finale of the Kate Winslet-starring drama, shared disgruntled messages and photos of their TV screens and mobile devices with the message “Content is not available”.

In the streaming age, consumers have become accustomed to accessing content whenever they want, however they want. But what’s to blame when a streaming service has a massively popular show or event, customers who suddenly can’t see the release date due to their anger and frustration?

Due to the complex nature of streaming, in which a platform’s technology can work with multiple third-party content delivery networks, authentication systems, various Internet service providers, and the plethora of devices used by viewers to access their content, The answer is often, unsurprisingly, “it really depends,” as one former streaming executive described it. Hollywood Reporter.

“These are complex systems, each of which has evolved somewhat differently,” the former executive said.

For example, Disney+ was built from technology from BAMTech, which Disney acquired in 2017. The technology stack for HBO Max is a mix of third-party and home systems that evolved from HBO Go and HBO Now, the latter of which was produced by BAMTech (HBO broke ties with BAMTech shortly after its Disney acquisition). . ViacomCBS’ Showtime and Paramount+ also operate in conjunction with third-party and in-house systems, with Paramount+ built from the same infrastructure used for CBS All Access. And then there’s Netflix, which has built and controlled much of its own infrastructure, including its container management platform and its content delivery network.

But as more users flock to streaming platforms to consume their content, streaming’s technical woes have become more apparent as the major streaming services — including HBO Max, Disney+ and Showtime — have grown in recent months. There were technical issues ahead of the highly anticipated season finale or live pay-per-view event.

In early March, when Disney+ released the finale for wandavisionhandjob About 2,300 viewers reported a malfunction in the tracking site Down Detector just after midnight, just after the episode’s release. A Disney+ spokesperson declined to share what caused the access problem, but noted that the technical issues were resolved within 8 minutes.

Two Months Later, When Some Customers Were Expecting to See HBO Max easttown mare At closing, approximately 50,000 users reported problems to Down Detector. According to an HBO Max spokesperson, HBO Max’s connection problem with the system primarily affected viewers on the East Coast, which was resolved within 30 minutes.

And earlier this month, Showtime streamed a $50 PPV exhibition match between Floyd Mayweather and Logan Paul, but according to Down Detector, the network after about 20,000 users began reporting access problems at the time of the evening’s event. was forced to offer a refund. A Showtime spokesperson declined to share how many users were affected or what exactly caused the outage, but did acknowledge that the extremely high demand for the fight caused technical difficulties for some viewers who had used the Showtime app and Purchase tickets through the network’s website.

In the case of Showtime’s outage, according to the streaming experts we spoke with THR, Showtime was probably not well prepared for the amount of users trying to access the live event at the same time – a process that was complicated because the fight was a PPV live event, meaning Showtime had to wait for tickets. process payments, authenticate users, handle an influx of viewers attempting to access content around the same time, and, in real time, communicate with the devices that viewers use to stream the event. on iOS or Android devices, such as Roku, Xbox One or Amazon Fire TV — each of which has its own protocols and standards that Showtime must follow in order to distribute its content.

Dan Rayburn, a digital media analyst, said, “Consumers don’t realize that the only technology that has to be talking to each other in real time is when you hit that website, and if one of them The piece breaks.” “It amazes.” And when systems are overwhelmed, users are essentially waiting for “hitting lines,” said the president and CEO of Conviva, a streaming video analytics company that works with platforms like HBO Max, Hulu and Sling TV. According to Keith Zubachevitch. “There are 10 million people showing up at your front door at the same time,” he said. “You can’t have 10 million people walking through the door at the same time.”

Because Showtime does not often stream live PPV events, it is possible that the system was tested to do so for volume-related problems prior to the Mayweather-Paul fight. That being said, for a high-profile sporting event that can be expected to draw in thousands of spectators, Rayburn said companies like Showtime should expect higher volumes and prepare their systems in advance. needed. “Aren’t you in the business of doing that?” Rayburn said. “It would be like your cable TV company, you’re turning in to watch a sports game, and they said, ‘Oh, wow. We didn’t know you’d be interested in this, so we don’t have content available.’ This is the biggest excuse ever.”

When it comes to outages for on-demand shows, like Easttown’s mare and wandavision, Experts said that volume is unlikely – or should not – be the main reason for an outage because streamers can better predict how many users will reach the finals based on past viewership for an earlier episode of a series. “No one is leaving [the final episode]. You won’t find any new visitors that night. You will only get old viewers who are coming back,” said the former streaming executive.

In most cases, mitigation against outages comes down to good planning, testing and monitoring, the former executive said. And if there is a live event or show finale where high volume is expected, streamers can be more strategic when they are letting users access content, such as by creating a waiting room before a live event or the exact timing of an episode’s conclusion. not to announce. Available on stage, so that a system is not overwhelmed by a sudden influx of spectators.

“We like the flexibility of watching when, where and how we want to watch it, but that flexibility comes with a technical challenge that streamers have to maintain, and so it’s a trade-off,” Zubachevic said. “Over time, that will eventually go away on its own. As technology gets better, streamers will get better and it will all be a thing of the past.”

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