With the upwards trend of cord cutting, livestreams and linear channels have become an extremely popular way to stream content to your audience. Typically used with Video on Demand style content, linear channels have proven to be extremely effective and offer a true “in the moment” type of viewing experience.
Let’s face it, sometimes consumers don’t know exactly what they want to watch. Linear channels can be the perfect answer for that. The age-old question of “hey, what should we watch?” is timeless and still applicable today. Even though it’s possible to have endless amounts of content available at the end of our fingertips.
Linear channels present the easiest decision when your viewers are experiencing an option paralysis from overwhelming choices. Let’s take a look and learn some of the best practices for linear channels, whether they are live or pre-recorded, as it applies to MAZ and how you can add linear channels to your apps.
So if you want to create a linear video channel with MAZ, read our full guide below.
What is a linear channel?
Simply put, a linear channel consists of constantly streaming media content that does not give the audience the ability to hit pause or play. Linear channels can be thought of as traditional live television. Users can’t choose the specific video they want to watch, but can navigate from channel to channel. The difference here in linear streams and traditional television is that content is served via the internet rather than cable, which makes it a great option for the cord cutter.
Live streams only have the option to be linear as content is encoded and fed directly to your audience. A great way to showcase a live cam or an event, live streams are perfect for this style of content. Give your audience a feeling of instant satisfaction as the livestream unfolds directly in front of them, keeping them hooked and entertained.
Pre-recorded content can also be streamed linearly as well. It’s a great way to mimic ways of the past as seen on traditional TV, maybe even giving a bit of nostalgia for some. Keep content flowing steadily to your user base 24/7 by having it readily available for access.
Adding linear content to MAZ
MAZ is a platform that allows businesses to build their own video streaming apps and TV apps. MAZ supports both live and pre-recorded linear channels. Here we’ll explain a bit on how both can work.
HTTP Live Streaming (or HLS) is the most common way for MAZ to ingest your linear stream. HLS, originally created by Apple back in 2009, is an adaptive bitrate streaming protocol which reads m3u8 files. A server will prepare the distribution by segmenting the entire stream into fragments called media segment files that are indexed into each listed bitrate within a URL, keeping each in ordered lists. That means that the stream will have multiple versions of itself but in different variants of video quality.
The purpose of this is if a device lacks the bandwidth to maintain a continuous stream of high bit rate fragments, the HLS stream can bump down to a lower bit rate to accommodate this in hopes of keeping a continuous stream. When the stream detects that it has caught up, it can conversely bump up in video quality by picking higher quality variant fragments. With that being said, it’s easy to see the benefits of HLS streams, especially to display live content considering it’s adaptability.
A much simpler option that MAZ offers to create a linear channel is what we call Simulated Live. If creating a HLS feed isn’t your thing, we can easily stitch together a playlist of your choosing. Now what you’ll have is a continuous stream of your content that acts just like a livestream, except that isn’t actually live, but rather a continuous loop of video content.
A key difference here is that a Simulated Live will actually pause the video if the user navigates away. The stream will always continue where it last left off, unless new content is added to that feed. In an example of an MRSS feed, when new video content is added here, then the Simulated Live will start its cycle over again from square one.
The MAZ platform also gives you the flexibility to filter through all your feeds to create customized Simulated Live content. This is a powerful way to curate your linear channel to deliver exactly what you want to your audience. All derived from pre-existing content and done in an uncomplicated manner through the MAZ product.
MAZ as a linear solution
Here at MAZ, we understand that every company’s resources vary and along with that, so will their app experiences. That’s why we want to provide you with simple ways to add linear channel offerings so you can hop on the bandwagon as well. Let’s get in touch and see what solutions we can provide to you.