Mainstreaming Targets New Lows in Encoding and Latency

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Can a 60-minute HD video be encoded in less than 2 minutes? Italian startup MainStreamingclaims its technology can—and what’s more it says it can do so fifteen times faster than Amazon.

Armed with a fresh multimillion-dollar investment the company is now looking to expand its "half world presence" in Europe and the U.S. by targeting Asia, and broadcaster video streaming and online gaming markets in particular.

"Our core business is focussed on helping improve quality of service (QoS) for our customers," explains CEO Antonio Corrado. "We are not a traditional CDN, since we have control over the entire stack."

Corrado, who worked for Computer Associates and IBM, describes himself as an entrepreneur. He founded Mainsoft Group in 2000, developing software for banks and telcos, and was its CEO until 2015 before leaving to start MainStreaming with fellow Mainsoft executive Giovanni Proscia, now Mainstreaming’s CTO.

"The problem we wanted to solve was the universal issue of buffering, lag, and poor QoS benchmarked by Conviva, which was turning viewers away from online," he explains. "CDNs are great for caching but less successful at streaming. We are built for real-time video streaming."

The Milan-based company cite a recent report from PwC, which found that consumers consider the quality of the user experience just as important as content. This explains, it says, why streaming platforms are trying to gain a competitive edge on their rivals through delivery of the best streaming experience possible.

A key client is Sky Italia, which uses the service to stream premium live, linear, and on-demand content directly to 4 million subscribers on the Sky Go, Sky Q, and Now TV platforms. "Italy is often seen as a lab for advanced technology," Corrado says. 

In the U.S., it is working with Denver Broncos, Rolling Stone,and tier 2 broadcasters with further customer announcements pending.

Earlier this month it announced that it had secured $6 million in a new round of funding, led by Indaco Venture Partners, together with Sony Innovation Fund, and existing investor United Ventures. This brings the overall amount of funding to $10 million.

Indaco Venture Partners aims to help MainStreaming focus its efforts on expanding in international markets, particularly Japan. Sony's participation is intended to help accelerate delivery of cloud gaming.

Corrado calls cloud gaming an "infinity business," adding, "Gaming companies don’t want to sell hardware at all in 4-5 years' time but to give customers a Netflix-like service."

"Current best efforts for streaming games services is more than 50 ms of delay. Our network has the ability to cover Europe in less than 25 ms, halving the latency and making online gaming a reality." 

MainStreaming has built a fully vertically integrated solution that it says solves all the main streaming workflow stress points. 

"Our proprietary HyperNode technology focuses on vertically integrating every phase in the streaming environment to offer a complete solution or one that integrates with your existing workflow."

Its suite includes solutions for origin ingest, storage, encode, transcode and transmux, hosting, management and API integration and delivery.

Its Ultra-Fast Encoding technology is compatible with formats and protocols for on-demand content including HLS, MPEG-DASH, WebRTC, and HSS, with claimed ABR proficiency and support for repacketisation and progressive downloading.

The company claims its delivery throughput is 3x faster than Conviva’s Average Bitrate benchmark.

Using high-performance computing, MainStreaming also says that in side-by-side tests, content using its technology is encoded faster than competitors. A 60-minute 1080p video, for example, can be produced in five different formats in 2 minutes, versus 85 minutes for Zencoder, 50 minutes for, and 31 minutes for AWS Elastic Transcoder, its own research suggests.

"Another reason our solution is unique is that we are the only company optimising routing in real time and delivering an incredibly stable connection to users," Corrado says. "[CDNs] normally manage the cache with no routing policy change. We don’t cache. If we observe congestion in a specific territory affecting QoS for 200 users, our algorithm can decide to change the path to those 200 users to try to solve the problem."

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