Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) announced the general availability of Amazon Interactive Video Service (Amazon IVS), a new fully managed service that makes it easy to set up live, interactive video streams for a web or mobile application in just a few minutes. Amazon IVS uses the same technology that powers Twitch, one of the most popular live streaming services in the world with nearly 10 billion hours of video watched in 2019, giving customers live content with latency (the time video takes to go from the camera to the viewer) that can be less than three seconds (significantly lower than the 20-30 second latencies common with online streaming video today). Customers can easily configure and stream live video through their own website or mobile application, with scalable delivery that supports millions of concurrent viewers globally. With the Amazon IVS SDK and APIs, customers can also build interactive features into their live streams like virtual chat spaces, votes and polls, moderated question and answer sessions, and synchronized promotional elements. There are no additional charges or upfront commitments required to use Amazon IVS, and customers pay only for video input to Amazon IVS and video output delivered to viewers.
Online audiences are increasingly turning to mobile and web applications for live video across sports, entertainment, education, and work. Today’s viewers require higher-resolution content and smooth video playback without buffering or delays no matter where they are or what device or application they are using. Viewers have also come to expect more interactivity in live streaming, so they can engage with those experiences (and others watching) as events unfold, not moments after they happen. Setting up the infrastructure to keep pace with consumer demand for live video is complex, time consuming, and expensive. Today, it takes customers months to build interactive applications with video workflows for content ingestion, processing, and distribution, and then they still need to configure transcoders for adaptive-bitrate-formatted streaming to support multiple types of devices, select the appropriate streaming protocols, set up the content delivery networks (CDNs), and integrate video players. Even after all this work, live-streamed interactive content still requires minimal latency for a good user experience. However, traditional video streaming requires video to be produced in various resolutions and divided into segments for delivery. Multiple segments are then stored in a buffer by the viewer’s video player so that playback resolution can be changed depending on the viewer’s network and device to optimize quality of service, all of which creates a lot of extra latency. This can mean that viewers experience latencies of 20-30 seconds, making it impossible for content creators to interact live with their audiences without sacrificing service quality.
Amazon IVS removes the cost and complexity associated with setting up live, interactive video streams, allowing customers to focus on building engaging experiences for their viewers. Amazon IVS is a fully managed service that makes high-quality, live-streaming video available to viewers around the world with latency that can be less than three seconds (as opposed to 20-30 seconds), so customers no longer need to make a tradeoff between interactivity and quality of service. To get started, customers simply send their live video to Amazon IVS using standard streaming software like Open Broadcaster Software (OBS). Amazon IVS ingests the video, then automatically transcodes and optimizes it, making it available for live delivery across AWS-managed global infrastructure in seconds using the same video transfer technology Twitch uses for its live streaming service. Content creators and developers can use the Amazon IVS player SDK to give audiences a consistent, low-latency live streaming experience across different viewing platforms and devices, without compromising video quality or increasing buffering. Customers can then combine the Amazon IVS SDK and APIs to attach structured text data to video streams, and create interactive content, including polls, surveys, and leaderboards, all of which are automatically synchronized to the live video. For example, a developer making a trivia application or a virtual town hall can use the API to ensure that viewers see the same questions at the same moment in the live video stream. With Amazon IVS, customers can now directly access the same technology that powers Twitch to create engaging live video experiences in their own applications and deliver them to viewers around the world.
“Customers have been asking to use Twitch’s video streaming technology on their own platforms for a range of use cases like education, retail, sports, fitness, and more,” said Martin Hess, GM, Amazon IVS. “Now with Amazon IVS, customers can leverage the same innovative technology that has taken Twitch over a decade to build and refine. Any developer can build an interactive live streaming experience into their own application without having to manage the underlying video infrastructure.”
Amazon Live is a page on Amazon.com where shoppers can discover livestream content and browse recorded livestreams. “With Amazon IVS, handling live video streams is very simple, which means we can devote more time to producing engaging content and features that allow viewers to interact with creators in real-time,” said John Katsavrias, Senior Development Manager, Amazon Live. “Amazon IVS enabled us to move quickly to unlock our creators’ ability to livestream so they can produce awesome content that inspires customers and helps them discover new products.”
Blackboard’s mission is to advance learning in partnership with the world’s education community. “Blackboard serves millions of users in countries in every region around the globe. As instructional techniques evolve and we continue to grow, we’re exploring how we can improve our interactive video experiences for all users, which is where Amazon IVS is changing the game,” said Scott Hurrey, Staff Engineering at Blackboard. “In one day, we were able to quickly integrate IVS into our teaching and learning workflow. It handles a majority of the work on the back end, freeing up more time for our team focus on creating and building standout experiences.”
17Live is an interactive live video app that connects entertainers around the world with their fans. “Integrating with Amazon IVS allows us to help our entertainers engage larger audiences with more interactive experiences and expand into new geographies,” said Eric Hsu, VP of Engineering at M17 Group. “The end-to-end service allows us to address our scaling, quality of service, and expansion challenges.”
DeNA’s Pococha is a pioneer in Japanese live streaming. “Amazon IVS provides the leading edge of live video technology transformations and maintains high availability systems, all while reducing the operational burden of managing complex, distributed live video networks,” said Daisuke Mizuta, Producer of Pococha at DeNA. “With it, we can focus more on enhancing user-oriented functions and interactivity to ensure we’re providing an irreplaceable experience.”
ScreenCloud helps businesses communicate better with teams and customers by transforming their spaces with smart, connected digital signage. “The ease of use and simplicity of Amazon IVS allows us to focus on delivering innovation rather than worrying about video infrastructure,” said Luke Hubbard, CTO of ScreenCloud. “We have been able to quickly integrate video conferencing tools with Amazon IVS to provide our customers an interactive broadcast solution.”
The Amazon IVS Management Console and APIs for control and creation of streams are available in the US East (N. Virginia), US West (Oregon), and Europe (Ireland) regions, with video ingestion and delivery available around the globe over a separate managed network of infrastructure that is optimized for live video.