Conviva, whose software preemptively optimizes video streams on multiple platforms, has renewed and expanded its existing deal with HBO for another 6 years. Conviva's original deal with HBO dates to May, 2011. Conviva has been supporting HBO's HBO GO TV Everywhere domestic distribution, and under the new deal it will be extended to support international distribution as well. HBO's parent, Time Warner, is also an investor in Conviva.
HBO GO has emerged as a TV Everywhere leader and one of the keys to its success has been the viewer experience - not only the archive of HBO shows that are available and the range of connected devices that are supported, but also the high quality of the video streams. Personally I've used HBO GO countless times (mainly on my iPad and Roku) and the video quality feels extremely similar to watching via cable.
The high quality underscores the role that Conviva's software plays. Back in 2010, I originally wrote about Conviva's clever system for monitoring the "heartbeat" of video streams across its customers and then mashing up this information in real time so that it can detect if/where quality problems exist and the optimal way to address them. This preemptive optimization means that behind-the-scenes problems are resolved so they don't impact the viewer experience.
This type of quality assurance is particularly important as online video moves from its "best efforts" roots - where users primarily watched free, short clips on their computers and therefore would be relatively tolerant of uneven quality - to its current status as a delivery medium for longer-form, often paid, video services (e.g. TV Everywhere, Netflix, Hulu Plus, etc.) sent directly to HDTVs via connected devices. Because pay-TV operators have invested heavily in their own delivery infrastructure, they have raised the bar on what online video must do in order to be viewed as a reasonable alternative. Buffering in particular is simply unacceptable when sitting down to watch a TV program or movie via a connected device.
Conviva finds itself sitting right in the middle of this dynamic. With the pay-TV ecosystem's emphasis on TV Everywhere as a competitive differentiator, the huge investments that OTT providers are making in premium programming and the proliferation of viewing devices, the need for assured video delivery is only going to become more intense going forward. Conviva is going to be a big beneficiary of all this.