Anatomy of a Personalized Livestreaming System

Bolun Wang
Xinyi Zhang
Gang Wang
Haitao Zheng
Ben Y. Zhao

Proceedings of the 16th ACM SIGCOMM Internet Measurement Conference (IMC 2016)

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Paper Abstract

With smartphones making video recording easier than ever, new apps like Periscope and Meerkat brought personalized interactive video streaming to millions. With a touch, viewers can switch between first person perspectives across the globe, and interact in real-time with broadcasters. Unlike traditional video streaming, these services require low-latency video delivery to support high interactivity between broadcasters and audiences.

We perform a detailed analysis into the design and perfor- mance of Periscope, the most popular personal livestream- ing service with 20 million users. Using detailed measure- ments of Periscope (3 months, 19M streams, 705M views) and Meerkat (1 month, 164K streams, 3.8M views), we ask the critical question: Can personalized livestreams continue to scale, while allowing their audiences to experience desired levels of interactivity? We analyze the network path of each stream and break down components of its end-to-end delay. We find that much of each stream's delay is the direct result of decisions to improve scalability, from chunking video sequences to selective polling for reduced server load. Our results show a strong link between volume of broadcasts and stream delivery latency. Finally, we discovered a critical security flaw during our study, and shared it along with a scalable solution with Periscope and Meerkat management.