How do streaming services stream? (troubleshooting)

  • #1


Gold Member
TL;DR Summary
Specifically asking about their signal(s) and what can interfere with it.
It's clear my theory about how streaming services stream is flawed. Let me 'splain:

We watch a lot of BritBox (like, a lot). Britbox is a streaming service, like Netflix and Disney+ and Prime Video (all of which we also have) on our Smart TV.

We are trying to watch a specific (new) show ("Why Didn't They Ask Evans?") and it is very jumpy. Every a minute or so it freezes for a few seconds and then leaps ahead. Lag or latency, or whatever you want to call it.

No matter how many times I stop and re-start it, this happens (and not in the same place, so it's a fault in the signal not a fault that's "baked in" to the content itself.)

I have been assuming this is a bandwidth pipeline noise issue, so I reboot my TV, PVR and my modem - which may not fix the problem if it is upstream of my house - but it can't hurt.

Of course, it does not fix the issue, but here is the crazy part: Trying other random Britbox shows, I find that they are perfectly fine. "Midsomer Murders": perfectly clean. "Father Brown": perfect signal, "Damned": we watched a whole half hour show without a single glitch.

I can only conclude that, somehow, specific shows on (at least Britbox) streaming service each have their very own streams in which they are ... streamed.

IOW, the pipeline that "Midsomer Murders" is streaming through is identifiably discrete from the pipeline that "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" is streaming through. One is choking up, the others are not.

Does that make any sense to anyone?

It's like a gumball machine that dispenses each colour from its own spigot before the rainbow of gumballs lands in my hand - and just one of the colour spigots is faulty. :oldconfused:

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Maybe they put all their new stuff on a crappy or overloaded physical server ?

Call up their tech support :

"Hi, the program won't stream properly ; do you mind if I pirate it ?"
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  • #3
The streams all originate at a master server, but temporary copies of popular streams will be held on other servers at different levels in the tree. If a temporary local copy is overwritten, it will be refreshed when needed from another server in the tree. That provides minimum traffic at the master server, with fan-out capacity sufficient to stream to all viewers at the tips of the branches.
Different streams will be distributed over different servers. I would expect the stream that reaches you will come from the closest of the many servers that have your stream. If the stream is present on only one distant server, and you are the only viewer, then there may be a performance issue as there will be no advantage in keeping a local copy.
  • Informative
Likes DaveC426913 and hutchphd
  • #4
Also client apps are supposed to buffer streams. You can see that on the YouTube app where it will wait until enough of the stream is downloaded before playing.

Maybe there is some setting to control how much is downloaded before playtime.
  • #5
I'm with @Baluncore on this one. The use of local cache servers is important to the delivery of streamed content. But providers can decide which content to cache or not cache. That is the only theory that makes delivery of some content run out of buffer more than other content.
  • #6
A trick I sometime is to simply pause the program for a few minutes. As your watching the next bit is downloading ready to be shown, sometimes if you just pause it and wait a few minutes the next part will download already and it will be smooth after that. This works for me when using youtube on a low bandwidth connection.
  • #7
I contacted them with details of my setup and location and equipment and they've responded asking for the serial number of my tv, the christian name of my firstborn and the type of grass on my lawn.
  • Haha
Likes phinds and jedishrfu
  • #8
All very proper checks. They know you're domesticated via the TV and you've likely used your firstborn's name a as password somewhere and from the grass they know what brand of MJ you like. Ihope you told your grass was St Augustine so they know you believe.

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