Turn back the clock a decade and the term ‘streaming’ would’ve sounded as alien as anything else. Long gone are the days of rental services like Blockbuster, as streaming services are the new cool kid in town. Thanks to streaming giants like Netflix, every major production house has launched their own subscription services like Disney+Hotstar, Hulu, HBO etc.
Now, despite the presence of dozens of streaming services at highly competitive rates, Netflix continues to be used as an adjective for online streaming. Even if other streaming services provide better list of content, Netflix continues to provide a higher quality streaming that almost never drops.
In 2021, millions of households tuned into Netflix to stream Squid Games, making it the most streamed show in the history of streaming services. And yet not once did Netflix drop its quality of streaming, despite millions of streams running simultaneously.
One of the reasons why Netflix is the leader in this market and has the number of subs they do [...] is something that pretty much everybody outside of the technical part of this industry underestimates, and that is Open Connect,” says Dan Rayburn, a media streaming expert
Gina Haspilaire, Netflix’s vice president of Open Connect said “We felt we were going to be successful, and we knew that the internet at the time was not built to sustain the level of traffic that would be required globally.”
As a result, Netflix created Open Network because Netflix “knew that we needed to build some level of infrastructure technology that would sustain the anticipated traffic that we knew success would look like,”.
Most streaming services rely on third party Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to stream videos, shows and movies.
Without a system like Open Connect or a third-party CDN in place, a request for content by an ISP must “go through a peering point and maybe transit four or five other networks until it gets to the origin, or the place that holds the content,” Will Law, chief architect of media engineering at Akamai, a major content delivery network.
This chain of commands not only slows down the delivery of the said content but is also expensive since every Internet Service Provider (ISP) has to pay a fee to get access to that particular content.
Hence to avoid this traffic and hefty fee, Netflix has created its own series of CDNs or content servers which are highly optimized to transfer large files.
Netflix’s Gina Haspilaire, vice president of Open Connect tells in an interview that
“We, Open Connect, bring a copy of Bridgerton at the closest point to your internet service provider — in some cases, right inside your internet service provider’s network — and that basically avoids the burden of the internet service provider having to go get it and transfer it through all these servers on the internet over to you,”
Currently, Netflix has over 17,000 servers across 158 countries and plans to expand its Content Delivery Network even further.
With the presence of highly optimized Content Delivery Networks present in nearly every nook and cranny of the world, it’s no wonder that Netflix never sees a drop in its quality even with considerable load on its servers.
Netflix may or may not be winning the race in terms of quality of content but it certainly is leading the race when it comes to quality of streaming.