Furtree Systems, a leader in livestreaming media server software that recently hosted a Streaming Media magazine survey on livestreaming trends, offers three levels of its award-winning Softvelum Nimble Streamer.
The basic Nimble Streamer server provides two key elements that survey respondents ranked high in their key requirements: livestreaming/transmuxing and video-on-demand (VOD) features.
Reining in Costs While Scaling Up
One of the key takeaways from the Furtree-sponsored 2023 Livestreaming Technology Trends survey was a growing concern around both capital expenses (CapEx) and operational expenses (OpEx) in an era of tightening budgets and rising delivery costs.
The good news for current and potential customers is that the base Nimble Streamer package starts at $70 (USD). This basic package includes a single server instance as well as access to WMSPanel functionality, a management platform that helps customers manage multiple Nimble Streamer instances.
With Nimble Streamer’s built-in transmuxing—the ability to repackage streaming content from one protocol to another, without changing the underlying content—Nimble Streamer customers can leverage the core engine to ingest in one protocol and output streams via other selected protocols while avoiding additional processing overhead.
Adding another server license only costs $50 per month per server, allowing wide flexibility for Nimble Streamer customers to scale up and down with their streaming demands.
Two additional licenses, each available for $50 per server-license per month, round out additional functionality needed by a key group of our Nimble Streamer users. One of these is a Transcoding license, which offers on-the-fly transcoding between various industry codecs, while an extra Addenda license offers digital rights management (DRM), server-side ad insertion (SSAI), and advanced SRT functionality and more.
Server instances run on a customer’s hardware, whether they choose server instances on cloud-based services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Azure, or on-premise bare metal servers. Some customers opt for hardware transcoding acceleration, with Nimble Streamer’s Transcoding license supporting both Intel Quick Sync Video and Nvidia GPU transcoding hardware and software support.
From a performance standpoint, Nimble Streamer has enough built-in robustness that we’re comfortable claiming that customers can perform high-load delivery to a large number of viewers on anything from cloud-based server instances to their own bare metal servers. And with our focus on lowering resource usage to prepare and deliver streams, we’re also comfortable claiming that you’ll likely run out of bandwidth before you hit hardware resources limits or any limitations of the Nimble Streamer software.
Remote Contribution Processing
Another key finding in the 2023 Livestreaming Technology Trends survey was the widespread use of a surprising number of acquisition and delivery protocols. Nimble Streamer has all these aspects covered, including legacy and emerging protocols. Not only do we offer venerable RTMP and RTSP protocols, in both push and pull configurations, as well as transport stream protocols—including HTTP-based DASH, HLS and MPEG-2 TS or UDP-based MPEG-2 TS—but we also cover emerging protocols such as SRT, NDI, and WebRTC WHIP ingest.
With newer transport solutions such as NDI—a broadcast-focused transmission protocol, which in integrated into everything from cameras to graphics workstations to vision mixers—and the audio-based DANTE protocol from Audinate supported, Nimble Streamer can be integrated into professional live-production workflows that require both legacy and emerging protocols.
Powerful Transcoding Options
While the vast majority of content delivered via streaming servers today uses the H.264 (AVC or MPEG-4 part 10) or H.265 (HEVC) video codecs, the acquisition of a live stream—from an appliance, computer, or even a camera with integrated streaming output—might originate from one of almost a dozen codecs.
This includes legacy industry-standard codecs (MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 part 2) and proprietary codecs such as VP8 or VP9, as well as the up-and-coming AV1 codec, all of which were mentioned by respondents to the 2023 Livestreaming Technology Trends survey as key to their video compression workflows.
Nimble Streamer can convert between these various codecs with its Transcoding license, allowing conversion of any of those codecs to delivery-ready H.264 or H.265. And we’ve optimized resource usage, with performance of more ingest streams transcoded than any competing streaming server product.
It’s not just video codecs that can be converted. Nimble Streamer can ingest more than a half-dozen audio codecs—including AAC, G.711, MP3, MP2, Opus, and Speex—and transcode to AAC or MP3 for delivery streams. The fact that Nimble Streamer handles both open-source (Opus) and legacy video- or voice-over-IP audio codecs means that you’re covered for whatever ingest streams you need to transcode to reach a wider audience.
When it comes to performance, we’ve also optimized Transcoder in a number of key ways. For instance, using the WMSPanel web user interface provides Nimble Streamer customers with an easy-to-use drag-and-drop workflow through which a customized transcoding scenario can be easily applied across various servers.
In addition, because Transcoder’s built-in logic guarantees that decoding of the initial stream—and subsequent re-encoding into either AVC or HEVC—are done just once per frame, performance rises by avoiding unnecessary processing overhead when transcoding to multiple codecs. And for those who have invested heavily in Nvidia-based graphics processors (GPUs), Nimble Streamer allows pipelines fully processed by NVENC without the need for additional software processing.
Advanced FAST Options
With a growing interest in free ad-supported television (FAST) business models—as a way to offset subscriber declines or just to supplement revenues with an advertising stream—Nimble Streamer offers advanced server-side ad insertion (SSAI) against which one can apply business logic (as simple or complex as needed to choose which ads to show based on time of day, geolocation, pay-per-view, etc.).
SSAI features can be implemented very easily, without even needing to install anything on the server; just add a configuration file and enable the Addenda license. Output options abound, from traditional Icecast and RTMP to HTTP-based (HLS) as well as Nimble Stream’s proprietary low latency SLDP output protocol.
Ads can be placed at the beginning or end of a video stream (pre-roll or post-roll) or anywhere in between (interstitial or mid-roll ads). Augmenting the basic business logic that Nimble Streamer provides, the Addenda license allows Nimble Streamer to identify SCTE35 markers, providing advanced insertion and passthrough options.
Protecting Content (DRM and Paywall)
When Nimble Streamer customers need to protect their live streams, on-demand (VOD), and digital video recorder (DVR) content, basic functionality is built in, including geofencing, to limit viewership in a specific region; geoblocking to keep rogue viewers out; and IP filtering.
In addition, Nimble Streamer comes standard. AES-128 encryption for HLS, as well as SSL protection for DASH and HLS and the ability to link to third-party paywall authentication providers.
For those who need a bit more content protection, the Addenda license provides the ability to tie into third-party digital rights management (DRM) solutions across a wide spectrum of providers.
Built-In VOD and DVR Options
While almost all Nimble Streamer customers use our robust server to deliver live streams, a growing number of customers also use Nimble Streamer’s built-in video-on-demand (VOD) functionality to deliver even more benefit to their own customers.
For those who want to offer DVR functionality for live streams—allowing viewers to catch up on a live stream at their own pace or perform their own instant replays of a key event—Nimble Streamer has that covered, too, as part of its basic functionality.
But Wait, There’s More!
With all the benefits of Nimble Streamer, we’ve not even touched on the Softvelum mobile broadcast tools.
For instance, the Larix Broadcaster app for iOS and Android turns your mobile device into a full-scale camera with advanced connectivity capabilities for reliable remote contribution. See more details on Larix Broadcaster at softvelum.com/larix/, including our free apps and reasonably priced SDK for integrated streaming in your own applications.
The bottom line when it comes to Nimble Streamer: Our team prides itself on building high-efficiency, low-resource-optimized streaming solutions that are cost-effective solutions for both sets of our traditional customers (small streaming startups and large broadcasters) that need added flexibility to scale on a server-by-server basis.
We’ll have more to say about the 2023 Livestreaming Technology Trends over the next few months, but here’s a key takeaway for our customers and potential customers: you can scale at your own pace with Nimble Streamer.
Regardless of whether you’re interested in using one or dozens of Nimble Streamer instances, our WMSPanel cloud control system allows you to deploy robust business logic and workflows across every Nimble Streamer license, without forcing you to buy additional features until you really need them. And that’s savings you can use to grow your business in uncertain times.
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