BBC says it’s solved World Cup streaming latency problem

While BBC’s 4K World Cup coverage was largely heralded a success, we all came away from it knowing there was one issue in particular that needed solving: streaming lag. 

Whether people were watching games on BBC iPlayer in 4K or Full HD, it would often be several seconds (sometimes up to a minute) behind the live TV channel.

Regardless of the platform – iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video – delay is an innate issue of online streaming. Why? Because it’s more complex to send video over the internet than it is over the air.

The BBC explains that when video is streamed online it is packaged into segments to be passed through the system before being reassembled at the user’s device. If they are too small, processing is inefficient, but if they’re too long delay is inevitable.

However, that could soon be a thing of the past as BBC Research & Development claims it has found a way to "eliminate" streaming lag altogether.

The BBC explains it can create smaller segments that can be passed through the system more quickly, which would enable viewers of the resulting online streams to see action "at the same time as they would see it if they were watching on TV".

The software isn’t ready to be rolled out to the public yet, but with co-operation from the broadcasting industry it hopes the technology will be available by the next World Cup in 2022. 


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Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.