The Promise of MPEG-DASH

The Promise of MPEG-DASH

As a global company providing services across every continent, Brightcove's ultimate goal is to make high quality video available anywhere at any time. That means having the ability to support the most widely used codecs, containers, delivery protocols and digital rights management (DRM) types, resulting in a dizzying matrix of supported devices, OS versions, and features. It also means testing devices from all over the world.

In a video utopia, a single format would cover every device with enough flexibility for manufacturers to create their own unique implementations while providing enough features to satisfy the demands of a modern viewer. MPEG-DASH, an adaptive bitrate streaming technique that enables high quality streaming of video over the Internet delivered from conventional HTTP Web servers, is a bold attempt to meet all of those requirements.

It's interesting to note that MPEG-DASH is described as a technique rather than a protocol. It provides a codec and format-agnostic way to signal and deliver media.

One of the most important elements of this "technique" is called Common Encryption (CENC). Up until now, every DRM standard was tied to an encryption method and a set of formats. For example, Microsoft PlayReady and Adobe Flash Access encryption of HLS are mutually exclusive, in that the same file cannot be decrypted using either method. The result is that every DRM standard would need to store its own set of files, massively increasing the complexity and footprint of a video platform's catalogue. Additionally, as the set of devices continues to grow, they all have varying support for the various DRM standards. As a result, publishers are faced with a library that grows in "duplicates" as the publisher tries to expand reach.

CENC promises to deliver a much better experience by providing a way to support multiple DRM types from a single file. That means video can be encoded and packaged once, while still being able to support Microsoft PlayReady, Google Widevine, and any other DRM standard that supports CENC.

Brightcove has chosen to support MPEG-DASH within our Video Cloud online video platform because it satisfies both of the conditions we look for in a format:

  • Adoption across devices -- With the introduction of Chromecast and great support from Microsoft, MPEG-DASH is already widely deployed on devices.
  • Reduces complexity of delivery and security -- Looking to the future, MPEG-DASH provides a ton of promise toward simplifying the complexity of media delivery. Combined with HTML5 video and encrypted media extensions, securely delivering video in the browser without relying on any plugins is right around the corner.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. With support from Widevine and Flash Access coming soon, the vision of MPEG-DASH seems to be resolving by the day. Brightcove is a firm believer in open standards. By supporting MPEG-DASH early, we hope to help drive the future of media delivery towards this open, flexible solution.