HotDash: Hotspot Aware Adaptive Video Streaming Using Deep Reinforcement Learning

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceedings of the 26th International Conference on Network Protocols (ICNP)








A large fraction of video content providers have adopted adaptive bitrate streaming over HTTP. The client player typically runs an adaptive bitrate (ABR) algorithm to decide upon the most optimal quality for the next few seconds of video playback. State-of-the-art ABR algorithms attempt to achieve an optimal trade-off among the competing objectives of high bitrate, less rebuffering, and high smoothness, in the face of unpredictable bandwidth variability. However, optimal bandwidth utilization does not necessarily ensure high quality of experience (QoE). Different users have different content preferences even within the same video, due to differences in team loyalties (in sport), character preferences (in movies and soaps), and so on. In this work, we present HotDASH, a system which enables opportune prefetching of user-preferred temporal video segments (called hotspots). HotDASH implements a prefetch module in the open source DASH player dash.js, which is powered by an optimal prefetch and bitrate decision engine. The decision engine is designed as a cascaded reinforcement learning (RL) model, implemented using a state-of-the-art actor-critic RL algorithm over a neural network. We train the neural network using trace-driven simulations over a large variety of bandwidth conditions. HotDASH outperforms all baseline algorithms, with a 16.2% QoE improvement over the best-performing baseline, and achieves 14.31% better average bitrate due to its ability to prefetch opportunistically.