HLS Monitoring with Catchpoint

Data & Analysis

In this tech tip, we are focusing on HLS (HTTP Live Streaming), a streaming protocol released by Apple in 2009. HTTP Live Streaming is widely used and it isn’t just limited to streaming services like Netflix or YouTube – it’s an important protocol for all content providers and CDNs. You’ll basically find HLS anywhere people want on-demand streaming. In this week’s video, we’ll take a look at HLS Monitoring within the Catchpoint SaaS platform (part of the CDN Monitoring solution) and I’ll demonstrate the type of granular data that it’s important to keep an eye on – since making sure your clients are having a good experience with your streamed content or service isn’t as straightforward as you might expect.

What is HLS?

HLS is everywhere, but what is it exactly? HTTP Live Streaming is a technology for video encoding that was designed by Apple, which allows us to deliver video without Flash. The majority of today’s content delivery networks today exclusively use HLS for adaptive bitrate, streaming technology. It’s quick, efficient and gives the user a premium version of the video.

In Apple’s words, “Using the same protocol that powers the web, HLS lets you deploy content using ordinary web servers and content delivery networks. HLS is designed for reliability and dynamically adapts to network conditions by optimizing playback for the available speed of wired and wireless connections.”  

HLS master playlist M3U8 format

HLS has a master playlist in an M3U8-based format. This master playlist defines a ‘Bitrate Ladder’, which as you can see in the above image, is a series of bitrates and resolutions, and the length of each ‘chunk’ of video. Put simply, this protocol provides five options for video quality, and it will select one based on how the network is performing to optimize the end-user experience.  

Why Monitor HLS?

HLS selects the option for video quality by placing five different objects with unique bitrates on your browser immediately when the video loads. You need to monitor the network statistics around the jitter and performance of these five objects, because if any of them are missing or unavailable, then the entire user experience is negatively impacted.

When monitoring HLS, the first thing to look at is the Bitrate Ladder. In this week’s video, I’ll show you how to do this inside the Catchpoint SaaS platform. Catchpoint lets you see specific files and how the system handled each one while testing. If there is a problem with your HLS manifest, Catchpoint will tell you when and where it occurred, simplifying the troubleshooting process for a protocol with many points of failure.

In Today’s Video: Learn How to Design an HLS Streaming Test Inside Catchpoint

  • Understand how the HLS protocol structure works.
  • Find out exactly how to design an HLS Streaming Test inside of the Catchpoint SaaS platform.
  • See how Catchpoint can help you troubleshoot a user’s digital experience and the critical HLS data points you’ll need to do so.

Let’s hop in!

Published on
Jan 20, 2021
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