Prior to the DASH standard, some platforms for HTTP streaming included Apple's HTTP Live Streaming and Adobe HTTP Dynamic Streaming. While these are successful in taking advantage of HTTP's efficiency, they're also proprietary. That means they each run with a different protocol, and they're not compatible with each other.
If major brands in Internet video streaming adopt the DASH standard, it could replace the less-efficient RTSP standard while eliminating the need for proprietary software. Some companies, like Netflix and Microsoft, are already on board with DASH. They're part of the MPEG-DASH Promoters Group, an organization of streaming video service providers supporting the new standard. By encoding video and creating clients that comply with MPEG-DASH, this group hopes to speed the standard's adoption across the industry.
Mark Watson, a senior engineer at Netflix, is excited about DASH for storage efficiency, too. Streaming service providers like Netflix use a content delivery network (CDN) to store and deliver video. To accommodate different types of devices, providers have to offer different video formats, which means having multiple copies of the same content in their CDNs. During a December 2011 interview with StreamingMedia.com, Watson stated that under the DASH standard, "everything can be encoded one way and encapsulated one way, and stored on our CDN servers just once." This leads to cost savings for storage space in addition to improved streaming performance [source: Dreier].
DASH also includes live streaming standards. Since DASH encoders create video segments on demand for the client, the client may be able to consume that live stream faster and in segment sizes that are appropriate to the current bitrate. This means fewer skips during video playback and a live stream that's closer to real time. Though there isn't a lot of buzz about it yet, this could lead to an increase in live streaming availability for sporting events and live TV shows, and more people watching live TV via the Internet.
The future looks bright for DASH, but time will tell how quickly providers adopt it and how soon software companies produce DASH-compliant clients. As we keep an eye on the standard, dash on over to the next page for lots more information about DASH.