Limelight Networks is offering online video with less than a second delay for time-sensitive applications that enable live interaction with viewers. It uses techniques originally developed to support real-time applications such as videoconferencing, together with a global network to enable this to scale to large audiences. Applications include in-game betting on events and viewer participation in online sports.

The development of digital broadcasting introduced a delay of five seconds or more to live television. The techniques typically used for online video delivery typically add a delay of anything from five to 60 seconds or more. It is possible to reduce this latency to a few seconds, which is comparable to digital broadcasting, but the technique of chunking media into short segments inevitably leaves some delay.

Yet users have come to expect video calls without any apparent delay, otherwise conversation would be very difficult. The problem to date has been scaling this to reach large audiences.

For some purposes, some delay may be undesirable but for other applications it is unacceptable. The combination of sub-second latency and viewer interaction allows live video applications including in-game betting on sports events, online gaming, and live auctions.

“As online video has quickly grown in popularity, performance expectations have increased and new technologies, such as Limelight Realtime Streaming, enable innovative new ways to engage audiences,” said Nigel Burmeister, vice president at Limelight Networks. “Now live events are truly live with the lowest possible latency, and it’s possible to create interactive experiences that were never before possible.”

Web Real-Time Communication or WebRTC was introduced by Google in 2011 to facilitate sub-second latency communications between browsers.

To enable WebRTC to support large global audiences, Limelight Networks uses its private network to distribute streams to edge servers around the world, where they are replicated and scaled to support large numbers of viewers.

Limelight Realtime Streaming delivers live video with less than a second of delay, using WebRTC and UDP data transfer protocol, rather than being segmented and buffered using traditional streaming formats such as HLS and MPEG-DASH over HTTP and TCP. It still uses adaptive bitrate to provide the highest possible quality for each viewer, even over changing network conditions.

Based on the latest web standards, it is natively supported without the need for plugins on all major browsers, including Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Opera.

This allows the development of interactive online experiences, opening up new business opportunities in sports, gaming, auctions and other applications.