Due to COVID-19, governments around the world are implementing quarantine policies to help prevent the rapid spread of the coronavirus. People staying home has shown a benefit in average user time on tech platforms such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and of course the biggest beneficiaries, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, YouTube, and Amazon Prime Video. As people stay at home to prevent human interactions (which spread the virus), they are furthering the “Netflix and Chill” activity of relaxing at home and binging their favorite shows, movies, animations, and documentaries.
With so many people watching HD videos (YouTube/Netflix) at the same time, all around the world, this has put an enormous strain on CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) to deliver video to households across the globe, as well as for ISPs to serve and relay high amounts of data to each home. Normally, people are working during the day and using internet on their businesses connections at the office. After work, they may go to the gym, spend time at home with their family having dinner, or watch streaming video content on a major video platform.
During this global pandemic, a large proportion of the population is watching video content from major platforms like YouTube and Netflix all at the same time. This concurrent high volume demand for video has put such a serious strain on internet traffic that governments have asked these major video networks to put a cap on the quality of video transmissions. This cap, first imposed in Europe, was needed to free up bandwidth for people working from home, using Zoom or other Person-to-Person video chat, an additional usage of ISP bandwidth. Below is a quote from a recent Business Insider article about this limit on video quality to reduce regional, and now global, bandwidth constraints affecting millions of internet users.
“YouTube is reducing the default streaming quality of videos for users across the globe beginning”..“in an attempt to limit the strain on internet providers globally, which have seen a surge in traffic in recent weeks as millions of people stay home in order to limit the spread of coronavirus.” (https://www.businessinsider.com/youtube-reducing-video-quality-globally-coronavirus-streaming-bandwidth-2020-3).
This is an unprecedented move due to an unprecedented time of a global viral pandemic affecting many corners of the earth. There is a unique utility network called Theta Network which has been building a vertical blockchain-based layer two network to help offload high-demand live events and concurrent VOD (video-on-demand) content.
Theta Network has a strong value proposition for content delivery both short term and long term because video viewers, and non-viewing satellite nodes (cacher or relay nodes) alike, become mini-servers helping create a global mesh network to more efficiently deliver video. This saves data delivery systems tens to hundreds of miles of data transmissions across different network “pipelines” and saves ISPs and CDNs extra effort delivering video to each home. Think of this analogy as an Amazon driver picking up one package and delivering it to one home in Los Angeles, and then going to the warehouse, picking up another package, and delivering that package to another home in Los Angeles. With the Theta Network, the Amazon delivery driver can take many big boxes of multiple packages, deliver it to many homes, and each of those homes delivers smaller packages to their neighbors homes.
Average computer users and video consumers get rewarded in real USD redeemable digital currency for sharing their bandwidth and delivering in-demand content to their neighbors (200–500 miles proximity). The purpose of the Theta Network is to create efficiency around data delivery where the traditional networks deliver video to each home, Theta Network creates bridges between those homes to solve a “last mile” delivery problem. This network works at scale for the highest demanded video, such as Soccer/Football, NBA, NFL, UFC, Boxing, Olympics, and major TV/film/Netflix/YouTube broadcasts. Theta Network won’t work as efficiently for elementary school Zoom teaching sessions or random YouTube videos or IG Live streams where only a handful of people are watching.
The bulk of efficiency and value of a mesh network is to create a robust sharing of data consumption/delivery and a sharing economy around the highest demanded content. Full disclosure: Theta Network won’t be the magic pill to solve the bandwidth crisis of increased consumption from isolated individuals/families in quarantine, but is quantitatively proven to save video platforms anywhere between 30%, up to 80%, of their video delivery operating costs. In addition to saving money on operating costs, users can also redeem their crypto tokens for discounts or subscriptions such as their subscription to Netflix, subscribing to their favorite streamer on Twitch/YouTube, donating tokens as a way of saying thanks, purchasing a viewing plan to avoid ads on YouTube, or simply withdrawing their tokens to convert directly to cash in their bank account.
Theta Network started working on their project and this value proposition prior to the pandemic, but this global virus spread has exacerbated video consumption and bandwidth strain, which currently accounts for ~2/3 of all internet traffic. Government restrictions on YouTube and Netflix video quality to spread bandwidth more evenly shows a yet another need for the Theta Network as a means of more efficiently delivering video in an increasingly video consuming marketplace with higher quality demands (4k, 8k, VR) and more content networks (Disney+, UFC Fight Pass, WWE Network, plus the plethora of international networks).
Disclosure: I own Theta Network’s Theta and Theta Fuel token. This is not investment advice.