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Thursday, December 18, 2014

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Analysis for 'CDNs'

  • VideoNuze Podcast #232: World Cup Streaming Records and Mobile Video Adoption

    I'm pleased to present the 232nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    The World Cup is in full swing and as many predicted beforehand, live-streaming is a crucial part of how fans are following the action. Colin notes that Akamai (which is responsible for a lot of the live-streaming globally), said that back in the 2010 World Cup, the peak bandwidth used was 1.4 terabits/second. Akamai was expecting that level to quadruple this year.

    Sure enough, in current group play, the Brazil-Mexico game already almost reached that target, registering 4.59 Tbps. That level will surely be exceeded as play moves on to the knockout stage (in which Colin's beloved England is unlikely to be participating).

    A key part of the World Cup's streaming success is due to the proliferation of mobile viewing devices, and we next discuss data Ooyala released this week revealing that mobile's share of online views increased from 3.4% in Q1 '12 to 21.5% in Q1 '14. Live-streaming in particular was a big-driver, and that's mainly sports. We dig into the details.

    Listen in to learn more!

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  • Vubiquity Unveils AnyVU Cloud Video Service, Partners With Akamai

    Vubiquity has announced AnyVU Cloud, a new cloud-based, multi-device video services platform providing both linear and on-demand content. In addition, the company has announced Akamai as its first partner, dubbing the combined solution "content-as-a-service." It is directed to existing pay-TV operators, content owners and OTT providers for a range of monetization models.

    AnyVU Cloud is a milestone for Vubiquity in evolving from the traditional business of managing and delivering video primarily to set-top boxes for incumbent providers to operating in a far more complex landscape in which video is delivered over IP networks to multiple devices by multiple providers with widely varying business rules and monetization.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #216 - Debating Netflix-Comcast Interconnect; Disney Movies Anywhere

    I'm pleased to present the 216th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. In today's podcast, we first discuss Disney Movies Anywhere, which launched this week. Both of us like it a lot (more of my take here). Colin believes it could also become a huge threat to UltraViolet if one other major studio were to adopt Disney's KeyChest technology.

    Then we turn our attention to the Netflix-Comcast interconnection agreement, which has taken on a life of its own this week. It's rare when Colin and I see the world completely differently, but in this case, we do. Colin believes the deal sets a dangerous precedent because Netflix is being provided "extraordinary access" to Comcast's network and also that, going forward, if a content provider wants to get good performance on Comcast's network, it would have to do a deal with Comcast.

    I don't see it this way. As I wrote earlier this week, the deal strikes me as business as usual, with the joint press release specifically saying "Netflix receives no preferential network treatment." Netflix made a business decision to negotiate directly with Comcast and manage/deliver their content themselves rather than work through a CDN which is what the vast majority of content providers do. This path obviously made sense for Netflix, but remember, it's in a somewhat unique situation because it accounts for 1/3 of all Internet traffic at certain times.

    Because Netflix and Comcast said so little about the deal themselves, and because there is so much suspicion of Comcast (and other broadband ISPs) regarding net neutrality, market power, etc., a lot more has been read into this deal than I believe is warranted.

    Colin and I have a very vigorous debate on these issues and ultimately agree to disagree :-)
     
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  • Akamai to Power NBC Olympics Video Streaming, TV Everywhere Again in Spotlight

    Akamai and NBC Sports announced this morning that Akamai will be powering video streaming, site performance and security services for the 2014 Winter Olympics on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports Live Extra app. The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia will run from February 6-23.

    NBC Sports plans to stream over 1,000 hours of Olympics content, double what it did 4 years ago from Vancouver. Streaming will include all 15 sports across 98 different events, plus lots of exclusive content such as interviews, athlete profiles and backstories that have become standard Olympics fare.

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  • Akamai Partners With Turk Telekom for Operator CDN

    Akamai is announcing this morning that it has partnered with Turk Telekom to build and manage an operator content delivery network (OCDN) in Turkey.  Turk Telekom will be deploying Akamai's Aura Spectra, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution whereby Akamai dedicates servers for the company's use, which are then maintained by Akamai along with its CDN software.

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  • Akamai Introduces Operator CDN Solutions to Improve Video Delivery

    The explosion of online video viewership is presenting pay-TV operators and broadband ISPs with big challenges and opportunities managing all of the increased traffic across their networks. To help address these, Akamai is introducing new capabilities in its Aura Network Solutions line of operator content delivery network (OCDN) technologies. The goal is to help operators deliver traffic more flexibly and cost effectively while also opening up potential new business models such as TV Everywhere.

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  • Akamai's New Sola Media Solutions Suite Addresses Online Video's Complexities

    This morning Akamai is taking the wraps off Sola Media Solutions, a suite of services aimed at content providers struggling to keep up with the steep challenges posed by the explosion of online video content, rapid device proliferation and changing viewer expectations.

    Sola Media Solutions replaces the prior "Akamai HD Network" branding. As Ahmet Ozalp, Akamai's VP, Products, Media Division explained to me, Sola builds on the company's traditional CDN strengths, and also introduces new modular services that address particular online video work flow, storage, security and delivery needs.

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  • Akamai's Bill Wheaton on the Complexities of Delivering Video to Numerous Devices [VIDEO]

    Last week at the NABShow, Bill Wheaton, Akamai's SVP and GM of its Media Division stopped by the VideoNuze booth for an interview. Bill sees some of the biggest trends happening in mobile, and cites his experience in India recently as an example of the huge growth in mobile. He also points to growth in video consumed over iOS devices of 200%-300% year-over-year. All of that is leading to massive complexity in supporting multiple devices while emphasizing quality. Bill discusses these challenges and how Akamai is addressing them. See video below (8 minutes, 21 seconds).

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  • 5 Items of Interest for the Week of Jan. 10th

    Even though I was very focused this week on the CES "takeaways" series, there was still plenty of news happening in the online and mobile video industries. So as in the past, I'm pleased to offer VideoNuze's end-of-week feature highlighting 5-6 interesting online/mobile video industry news items that we weren't able to cover this week. Enjoy!

    Level 3 fights on in Comcast traffic dispute
    Level 3 is showing no signs of relenting on its accusations that Comcast is unfairly trying to charge the CDN for Internet traffic it delivers to Comcast's network. In an interview this week, Level 3 said it may use the "Open Internet" provisions of the FCC's new network neutrality rules to press its case. Level 3's challenge is coming at the 11th hour of the FCC's approval process of the Comcast-NBCU deal; it's not really clear if Level 3 is having any impact on slowing the approval, which appears imminent.

    Comcast-NBCU deal challenged over online video proposal
    Speaking of challenges to the Comcast-NBCU deal, word emerged this week that Disney is voicing concern over the FCC's proposed deal condition that would force Comcast to offer NBC programming to any party that had concluded a deal with one of NBC's competitors for online distribution. The Disney concern appears to be that the condition would have an undue influence on how the online video market evolves and how Disney's own deals would be impacted. While the FCC should be setting conditions to the deal, the Disney concerns highlights how, in a nascent, fast-moving market like online video, government intervention can cause unintended side effects.

    YouTube is notching 200 million mobile video views/day
    As if on cue with my CES takeaway #3, that mobility is video's next frontier, YouTube revealed this week that it is now delivering 200 million mobile views per day, tripling its volume in 2010. That would equal about 6 billion views per month, which is remarkable. And that amount is poised to increase, as YouTube launched music video site VEVO for Android devices. YouTube clearly sees the revenue potential in all this mobile video activity; it also said that it would append a pre-roll ad in Android views for tens of thousands of content partners.

    Google creates video codec dust-up
    Google stirred up a hornet's nest this week by announcing that it was dropping support for the widely popular H.264 video codec in its Chrome browser, in favor of its own WebM codec, in an attempt to drive open standards. Though Chrome only represents about 10% market share among browsers (doubling in 2010 though), for these users, it means they'll need to use Flash to view non-WebM ended video. There are a lot of downstream implications of Google's move, but for space reasons, rather than enumerating them here, check out some of the great in-depth coverage the issue has received this week (here, here, here, here).

    Netflix usage drives up Canadian broadband bills
    An interesting test of Canadian Netflix streaming showed that a user there might have to pay an incremental $12/month under one ISP's consumption cap. That would be more than the $7.99/mo that the Netflix subscription itself costs, leading to potential cord-shaving behavior. This type of upcharge hasn't become an issue here in the U.S. because even ISPs that have caps have set them high relative to most users' current consumption. But if streaming skyrockets as many think it will, and the FCC allows usage-based billing, this could fast become a reality in the U.S. as well.


     
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  • Brightcove Partners With Akamai HD Network for Bundled Delivery

    Online video platform Brightcove is transitioning its bundled content delivery offering to the Akamai HD network, for which it will now be a value-added reseller. Jeff Whatcott, Brightcove's SVP of Marketing, explained to me last week that the decision was made in reaction to its customers'  delivery requirements becoming more complex.  Akamai HD's differentiators included improved economics, analytics, mobile delivery and global coverage among others.

    Though the deal isn't exclusive, it will involve Brightcove moving over all of its customers who have been using the bundled delivery offering from Limelight, Brightcove's prior delivery partner. Jeff estimates more than 80% of Brightcove's customers take advantage of bundled delivery, though from Brightcove's standpoint, the fees it derives from delivery are small relative to its software and platform fees. Going forward, Brightcove will continue working with Limelight and other CDNs with whom it has relationships.

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  • BT Wholesale Readies CDN Launch; Relies on Skytide for Analytics

    While most of my focus is on the U.S. market for online video, I recently had a chance to catch up with Simon Orme, GM, Content Services Group of BT Wholesale, who gave me a deep dive update on what's happening in the U.K. market. Simon's specific focus has been a 2-year long project for BT to roll out CDN services to broadband ISPs who lease BT's network. The project is now moving into trial.

    The U.K. video industry has robust satellite and cable competition, and more recently the BT Retail side has been rolling out its BT Vision IPTV service as a competitor to both. BT is also involved in "Project Canvas" a partnership of the major U.K. broadcasters and several communications companies to roll out broadband content.

    A key challenge for Simon has been how to enhance the value of these CDN services for the ISPs who in turn offer them to content providers. Simon believes that a key driver is end-to-end quality of service. To deliver this BT is using Skytide, a U.S. provider of reporting and analytics software.

    Simon explained that ISPs are already relatively sophisticated about how they manage their networks, yet traditionally they haven't had a lot of insight into what data is running on their networks. Therefore, the opportunity is to marry CDN services to these networks. In Simon's view, since most content providers are already using CDNs, the ISP must further distinguish itself in order to gain business. Doing so requires deeper insight about quality of service through a reporting and analytics layer. This is why BT is offering Skytide as part of its CDN service offering.

    Skytide ingests multiple data sources in real time and then crunches the data, presenting it in various dashboard views, which might include for example network capacity utilization, volume of traffic by customer and distribution of traffic. Having evaluated multiple options, Simon said BT chose Skytide as the best of breed. The goal is to give its ISP customers all the potential levers to adjust in order to maintain the highest quality of service to their content customers.  

    There are currently a lot of moving pieces in video delivery in the U.K. and it will be worth keeping an eye on to see how they unfold.

    (Note if you want to hear Simon talk in more detail about the U.K market and CDN dynamics, here is a recent interview he did with Murali Nemani from Cisco.)
     
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  • 12 Questions for Akamai President and CEO Paul Sagan

    Last week, Akamai Technologies reported a very strong first quarter of 2010, with revenue of $240 million, up 14% year-over-year, and net income of $40.9 million, up 10% year-over-year. The company pointed to 3 main drivers of its accelerated growth: developments in cloud computing, video distribution over the Internet and online advertising. To learn more about what Akamai is seeing specifically among its media & entertainment (M&E) customers and in online video, late last week I spoke to company president and CEO Paul Sagan. Following is an edited transcript of our call.

    VideoNuze: Akamai just reported a very strong Q1, which as you explained on the earnings call, included accelerated growth in the company's large M&E business. What are the key trends Akamai is seeing from its M&E customers?

    Paul Sagan: The most important thing M&E customers are focused on is how they can build a sustainable business online. For video it's all about engagement - how to get people to stay longer and make the model work. We believe the big driver of that is quality and more specifically HD. A number of recent things have happened that help HD - first is pervasive and consistently strong broadband in the last mile. Second is variable bit rate streaming. Third are all he new convergence devices connecting broadband to the TV.  The key for customers is trying to get TV-like quality with interactivity. Just broadcasting an HD signal over the Internet isn't enough because TV works well already. It's the interactivity - things like multiple camera angles and instant DVR - that make the difference.

    VN: You said on the earnings call that HD is driving double or higher engagement by viewers. That's an impressive data point.

    PS: Yes, with live events where you can do a true A/B test - we're seeing roughly double the viewing time when delivering at 1-2 MB or higher. That's offering a big potential lift in time spent viewing for our customers.

    VN: Does that mean Akamai's M&E customers using HD are also doubling their revenue as a result?

    PW: I'm not sure they're doubling just yet, but HD delivery is making content into something that can be monetized more strongly - possibly through sponsorships as well as advertising and paid models. So it's not as simple as saying you sell double the number of banners. What HD also does is push people toward longer-form. An issue with some of the shorter-form content like 2-3 minute clips is that you just can't put that many ads in or it will be worse than TV for users. I'm not suggesting we should see 8 minutes of ads in a 30 minute show, but you can certainly do more.

    VN: Speaking of business models for high-quality video - what do you hear from your customers as the emerging standard - ads, paid or a mix of both?

    PS: It's a mix - some ad-supported, some per event payments or subscriptions, particularly with sports. Some movies will be more subscription-oriented. Online delivery and HD are unlocking a few different models, yet it's still early days for all models. Clearly some have struggled to date which is no surprise when you consider it's taken 15 years to get online viewing to just a 1% share - which is obviously pretty small. But given everything that's going on, I'm sure it won't take 15 more years to double again.

    VN: On the customer front, Akamai is announcing Magnify.net as a new customer this morning, which has an interesting "video curation" model. Can you say more about how these kinds of non-traditional distribution models like Magnify's fit into the online video landscape?

    PS: What we're seeing across a wide number of sites is a strong desire to add rich media. We're also seeing sites think about programming in a non-traditional way. The goal is how to keep the user experience compelling. That means adding audio and video when users expect it.  That in turn drives higher engagement and monetization. We've evolved from a time when there was a "priesthood of 3 networks" who produced video and nobody else could, to today when there are lots of ways to produce video - including millions of hours of UGC. The curated model is so important because it helps sites get relevant content.

    VN: How mature is the idea of curating online video from the web and non-traditional distribution models generally?

    PS: Well, I haven't even figured out the etymology of "curation" - in the old days we used to call it "editing." But that was about journalistic sites. Many of today's sites are not purely "journalistic."  So the video added isn't always "news," though it still has to be highly relevant. For example, biking video belongs on biking sites, not on hockey or baseball ones. How do we make those sites more compelling through video? That's what curation does. And Magnify's trying to make that easy. I've know (Magnify CEO) Steve Rosenbaum for 20 years and I'm thrilled that they appreciate how Akamai's quality, scale and reliability can be central to delivering the experience they want to achieve.

    VN: Shifting topics to CDN pricing, which is of course widely discussed. Can you say more about Akamai's approach to pricing for its M&E customers - on balance, does Akamai try to keep prices stable or is it continually trying to push them down?

    PS: I've gotten a question about CDN pricing every day for the 12 years that I've been here! My view in general is that unit prices in technology always come down and in this area they need to come down a lot because we're trying to enable our customers to deliver a lot more data. So we've been relentlessly driving the unit price of delivery down for years. For us it's not about keeping prices stable and reducing our costs solely for our own benefit. Rather, we've been driving the unit costs down every year and sharing that savings proportionately with our customers. That's worked out well in generating more traffic on our network every year. We plan to continue doing that because it creates a virtuous circle of ever-more traffic and reduced costs.

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  • Lots of News Yesterday - Adobe, Hulu, IAB, Yahoo, AEG, KIT Digital, VBrick, Limelight, Kaltura

    Yesterday was one of those days when meaningful broadband video-related news and announcements just kept spilling out. While I was writing up the 5Min-Scripps Networks deal, there was a lot of other stuff happening. Here's what hit my radar, in case you missed any of it:

    Adobe launches Flash 10.1 with numerous video enhancements - Adobe kicked off its MAX developer conference with news that Flash 10.1 will be available for virtually all smartphones, in connection with the Open Screen Project initiative, will support HTTP streaming for the first time, and with Flash Professional CS5, will enable developers to build Flash-based apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch. All of this is part of the battle Adobe is waging to maintain Flash's lead position on the desktop and extend it to mobile devices. The HTTP streaming piece means CDNs will be able to leverage their HTTP infrastructure as an alternative to buying Flash Media Server 3.5. Meanwhile Apple is showing no hints yet of supporting Flash streaming on the iPhone, making it the lone smartphone holdout.

    Hulu gets Mediavest multi-million dollar buy - Hulu got a shot in the arm as Mediaweek reported that the Publicis agency Mediavest has committed several million dollars from 6 clients to Hulu in an upfront buy. Hulu has been flogged recently by other media executives for its lightweight ad model, so the deal is a well-timed confidence booster, though it is still just a drop in the bucket in overall ad spending.

    IAB ad spending research reports mixed results - Speaking of ad spending, the IAB and PriceWaterhouseCoopers released data yesterday showing overall Internet ad spending declined by 5.3% to $10.9B in 1H '09 vs. 1H '08. Some categories were actually up though, and online video advertising turned in a solid performance, up 38% from $345M in 1H '08 to $477M in 1H '09. Though still a small part of the overall pie, online video advertising's resiliency in the face of the recession is a real positive.

    Yahoo ups its commitment to original video - Yahoo is one of the players relying on advertising to support its online video initiatives, and so Variety's report that Yahoo may as much as double its proportion of originally-produced video demonstrates how strategic video is becoming for the company. Yahoo has of course been all over the map with video in recent years including the short tenure of Lloyd Braun and then the Maven acquisition, which was closed down in short order. Now though, by focusing on short-form video that augments its core content areas, Yahoo seems to have hit on a winning formula. New CEO Carol Bartz is reported to be a big proponent of video.

    AEG Acquires Incited Media, KIT Digital Acquires The FeedRoom and Nunet - AEG, the sports/venue operator, ramped up its production capabilities by creating AEG Digital Media and acquiring webcasting expert Incited Media. Company executives told me late last week that when combined with AEG's venues and live production expertise, the company will be able to offer the most comprehensive event management and broadcasting services. Elsewhere, KIT Digital, the acquisitive digital media technology provider picked up two of its competitors, Nunet, a German company focused on mobile devices, and The FeedRoom, an early player in video publishing/management solutions which has recently been focused on the enterprise. KIT has made a slew of deals recently and it will be interesting to watch how they knit all the pieces together.

    Product news around video delivery from VBrick, Limelight and Kaltura - Last but not least, there were 3 noteworthy product announcements yesterday. Enterprise video provider VBrick launched "VEMS" - VBrick Enterprise Media System - a hardware/software system for distributing live and on-demand video throughout the enterprise. VEMS is targeted to companies with highly distributed operations looking to use video as a core part of their internal and external communications practices.

    Separate, Limelight unveiled "XD" its updated network platform that emphasizes "Adaptive Intelligence," which I interpret as its implementation of adaptive bit rate (ABR) streaming (see Limelight comment below, my bad) that is becoming increasing popular for optimizing video delivery (Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, Apple, Akamai, Move Networks and others are all active in ABR too). And Kaltura, the open source video delivery company I wrote about here, launched a new offering to support diverse video use cases by educational institutions. Education has vast potential for video, yet I'm not aware of many dedicated services. I expect this will change.

    I may have missed other important news; if so please post a comment.

     
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  • Akamai to Launch "Akamai HD Network" Today

    Akamai is announcing its new "Akamai HD Network" this morning, and planning a 1pm webcast to explain the details. Akamai is positioning the network as the first to deliver HD-quality live and on-demand streaming for broadcast-sized audiences. The Akamai HD Network supports Flash, Silverlight and iPhone.

    Key to the Akamai HD Network is support for adaptive bit rate ("ABR") streaming, which adjusts the quality of the video delivered based on prevailing network conditions, instant response for pause, rewind, startup, etc, an open standards HD video player and user authentication. Adobe has also optimized Flash to be delivered over Akamai's HTTP network, which appears to be a first. This allows Akamai to fully leverage its 50,000 HTTP edge-server network.

    The evolution toward HD-quality delivery has been building steam recently, as content providers increasingly recognize that TV-quality video is becoming the expected norm for online video users. This is particularly true for heavy users who substitute online viewing for TV-viewing, but don't want a degraded experience. As convergence devices, which bridge broadband to the TV in the home take off, the quality bar will rise for all users. This means that all CDNs that want to be players in video delivery will need to be able to deliver HD quality at scale. Move Networks, which I've written about before, is another company playing an important role in enabling high-quality broadband-delivered video to the TV; others will no doubt follow.

    More details coming in the webcast today at 1pm ET.

     
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  • 4 News Items Worth Noting from the Week of July 27th

    Following are 4 news items worth noting from the week of July 27th:

    New Pew research confirms online video's growth - Pew was the latest to offer statistics confirming that online video usage continues to soar. Among the noteworthy findings: Long-form consumption is growing as 35% of respondents say they have viewed a TV show or movie online (up from 16% in '07); watching video is widely popular, draw more people (62%) than social networking (46%), downloading a podcast (19%) or using Twitter (11%); usage is up across all age groups, but still skews young with 90% of 18-29 year olds reporting they watch online vs. 27% of 65+ year olds; and convergence is happening with 23% of people who have watched online reporting they have connected their computers to their TVs.

    FreeWheel has a very good week - FreeWheel, the syndicated video ad management company I most recently wrote about here, had a very good week. On Monday, AdAge reported that YouTube has begun a test allowing select premium partners to bring their own ads into YouTube, served by FreeWheel. Then on Wednesday, blip.tv announced that it too had integrated with FreeWheel, so ads could be served for blip's producers across their entire syndication network. I caught up with FreeWheel's co-CEO Doug Knopper yesterday who added that more deals, especially with major content producers, are on the way. FreeWheel is riding the syndication wave in a big way.

    Plenty of action with CDNs - CDNs were in the news this week, as Vusion (formerly Jittr Networks) bit the dust, after going through $11 million in VC money. Elsewhere CDN Velocix (formerly CacheLogic) was acquired by Alcatel-Lucent. ALU positioned the deal as fitting with its "Application Enablement" strategy, supporting customers' needs in a "video-centric world." Limelight announced its LimelightREACH and LimelightADS services for mobile media delivery and monetization (both are based on Kiptronic, which it acquired recently). Last but not least, bellwether Akamai reported Q2 '09 earnings, that while up 5% vs. year ago, were down sequentially from Q1. Coupled with a cautious Q3 outlook, the company's stock dropped 20%.

    IAC is making big moves into online video - IAC is making no bones about its interest in online video. Last week the company unveiled Notional, a spin-out of CollegeHumor.com, to be headed by that site's former editor-in-chief Ricky Van Veen. Then this week it announced another new video venture, with NBCU's former co-entertainment head Ben Silverman. IAC chief Barry Diller seems determined to push the edge of the envelope, as IAC talks up things like multi-platform distribution and brand integration. With convergence and mobile consumption starting to take hold, the timing may finally be right for these sorts of plays. At a minimum IAC will keep things interesting for industry watchers like me.

    Click here to see an aggregation of all of the week's broadband video news

     
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  • Catching Up on Last Week's Industry News

    I'm back in the saddle after an amazing 10 day trip to Israel with my family. On the assumption that I wasn't the only one who's been out of the office around the recent July 4th holiday, I've collected a batch of industry news links below so you can quickly get caught up (caveat, I'm sure I've missed some). Daily publication of VideoNuze begins again today.

    Hulu plans September bow in U.K.

    Rise of Web Video, Beyond 2-Minute Clips

    Update on New Channels

    ABC Content Now on Hulu

    Nielsen Online: Kids Flocking to the Web

    Amid Upfronts, Brands Experiment Online

    Clippz Launches Mobile Channel for White House Videos

    Prepare Yourself for iPod Video

    Study: Web Video "Protail" As Entertaining As TV

    In-Stat: 15% of Video Downloads are Legal

    Kazaa still kicking, bringing HD video to the Pre?

    Office Depot's Circuitous Route: Takes "Circular" Online, Launches "Specials" on Hulu

    Upload Videos From Your iPhone to Facebook Right Now with VideoUp

    Some Claims in YouTube lawsuit dismissed

    Concurrent, Clearleap Team on VOD, Advanced Ads

    Generating CG Video Submissions

    MJ Funeral Drives Live Video Views Online

    Qik Raises $5.5 Million

    Why Hulu Succeeded as Other Video Sites Failed

    YouTube's Pitch to Hollywood

    Invodo Secures Series B Funding

    Comcast, USOC Eye Dedicated Olympic Service in 2010

    Consumer Groups Push FTC For Broader Broadband Oversight

    Crackle to Roll Out "Peacock" Promotion

    Earlier Tests Hot Trend with "Kideos" Launch

    Mobile entertainment seeking players, payment

    Netflix Streams Into Sony Bravia HDTVs

    Akamai Announces First Quarter 2009 State of the Internet Report

    Starz to Join Comcast's On-Demand Online Test

    For ManiaTV, a Second Attempt to be the Next Viacom

    Feeling Tweety in "Web Side Story"

    Most Online Videos Found Via Blogs, Industry Report

    Cox to Turn "MyPrimeTime" Dial to 100

    How to Start a Company (and Kiss Like Angelina)

     
  • Robust Ecosystem Promises that Online Video Will Keep Looking Better and Better

    I continue to be impressed with the ecosystem of technology companies whose products enable online video to be delivered better, cheaper and faster. Video quality has made incredible strides over the last ten years, evolving from grainy postage stamp-sized experiences to gorgeous HD or near-HD experiences that are becoming more routine. This is causing a powerful "virtuous cycle" to take hold: as users' video experiences improve they watch more video. As they watch more they help fuel more investment in the online video medium.

    In particular, CDNs' ability to offer better service even as their delivery rates continue to plummet is based on continuous improvements in their infrastructure. Similarly, content providers' ability to offer higher-quality video is based on improving operational efficiencies and costs in their content management and publishing processes. Two announcements today illustrate both of these dynamics quite well.

    First, Blackwave, a Boston-area early-stage provider of video storage and delivery systems that I've been following for a while, is announcing today the R6, its first production system, along with its first major CDN customer, CDNetworks. Last week, Andrew Grant, Blackwave's director of business development and Mike Killian, CTO gave me an update,

    Blackwave's focus in on giving CDNs a more powerful, more efficient way of storing and serving high-quality video content. The R6 reduces the CDN's hardware requirements by offering both higher-density and more intelligent storage. One example is that Blackwave continuously gauges the popularity of certain pieces of content. If their popularity increases, more resources are provisioned for higher-availability; if their popularity decreases (as for Long Tail content), they get fewer resources. Among other things, Blackwave is also able to support WMS and Flash streaming, FTP uploading for content ingest and "multi-tenancy" for customer resource sharing.

    The net effect of all this is that Blackwave believes it can deliver 10x improvements in both capex (through lower hardware requirements) and opex (through lower power, cooling, data center costs). All of this of course means that CDNs gain more financial flexibility to deliver ever higher quality content from their customers.

    Separate, thePlatform (note a VideoNuze sponsor) is announcing today that it is launching mpsManage Ingest, a new streamlined feature for ingesting its customers' content. Marty Roberts, thePlatform's VP of Marketing told me last week that as video quality has increased - thereby causing an explosion of file sizes - the time and effort to ingest them has grown more burdensome and costly. This is particularly true for companies with large or dynamic video libraries.

    mpsManage Ingest sets up "Watch Folders" where customers push their content via FTP, a feed reader for thePlatform to subscribe to updates and multi-format ingest adaptors. mpsManage Ingest carries no extra charge, and continues the company's recent efforts to lower the total cost of operating for video content providers (see earlier post on thePlatform's mpsManage Storage and mpsManageCDN offerings).

    These are just two examples of how improved technology is enabling higher-quality video. There's plenty more happening; I recently received a briefing from Nokeena, which provides video caching, streaming and delivery intelligence for delivery across screens, a category that includes others like Verivue and EdgeWare, which I haven't spoken to yet. Then there is adaptive bit rate streaming from companies like Move Networks, Adobe and Microsoft, efficient transcoding from companies like Grab Networks, HD Cloud, mPoint and Encoding.com and file transfer and work flow acceleration from companies like Aspera and Signiant.

    Adding it all up, the ecosystem of technology helping enable higher-quality, more efficient delivery of online video is impressive and its momentum is growing. Users will continue to benefit from all of these initiatives, as the quality line between conventional delivery and online delivery further blurs.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

     
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  • VideoNuze Report Podcast #17 - May 22, 2009

    Below is the 17th edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for May 22, 2009.

    This week Daisy takes on 2 topics: how book publishers are (finally!) embracing video to promote their authors and titles, and also what NBC's local media division is doing to roll out new web sites to support its ten owned stations. They're adding lots of original content (including from 3rd parties), video, social media features and more community emphasis. No surprise syndication is a real push. Local stations have been really hammered by the recession and also by the shift to broadband distribution, so it's good to see NBC being aggressive.

    Separate but related NBC.com is my focus on this week's podcast. Specifically, I add more detail to my post this week about how NBC.com is leveraging its existing online/broadband infrastructure to support its mobile video efforts by using Kiptronic, a mobile video ad insertion company.

    Coincidentally, Kiptronic was just acquired by Limelight, further validating that mobile video is a rising priority for many video providers. I've been digging into mobile video and though it's still well behind the broadband adoption curve, the iPhone and other video-ready mobile devices are creating a lot of momentum. (Recall that mobile video taking off was one of my 5 predictions for '09)

    For those of you celebrating the long Memorial Day weekend, and the official start of summer, enjoy! I'll see you on Tuesday.

    Click here to listen to the podcast (13 minutes, 21 seconds)

    Click here for previous podcasts

    The VideoNuze Report is available in iTunes...subscribe today!

     
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  • Limelight Acquires Kiptronic; Positions Itself for Mobile Video Growth

    This morning Limelight announced it has acquired Kiptronic for cash and stock. Just yesterday I wrote about how Kiptronic is helping NBC.com insert ads into its mobile video streams by plugging into NBC.com's existing work flow and DART ad infrastructure.

    While NBC.com is on the leading edge of blending its broadband and mobile video infrastructures, based on my conversations with other video content providers, I suggested this is going to be a significant future trend. David Hatfield, Limelight's SVP of Products, Marketing and Sales, who I spoke to earlier today about the Kiptronic deal, echoed that sentiment.

    While mobile video is still in the early stages, David said that for "all of its customers, mobile and Internet-connected devices are top-of-mind" and that they are looking to partners like Limelight to cost-effectively address new 3 screen opportunities, as well as challenges like audience fragmentation.

    David explained that having worked with Kiptronic for 3+ years, they shared a common vision of the importance of blending broadband/online infrastructure to support the mobile/Internet-connected device world. Both companies also emphasize open video ecosystems, and Limelight intends to continue supporting other CDNs that Kiptronic has been working with. As I said yesterday, the iPhone has been responsible for driving a lot of today's mobile video usage, but with other smartphones and devices coming on strong, mobile viewership is poised to broaden and intensify. With Kiptronic under its tent, Limelight will be better positioned to serve its customers' mobile needs, and augment its core CDN services.

     
  • thePlatform Targets SMB Customers with New Cost-Savings Initiatives

    Here's another sign of the times: thePlatform is announcing this morning that it has launched three new initiatives aimed at reducing small-to-medium (SMB) sized content providers' total cost of running their broadband video operations. In the context of the woeful economy, it's a savvy move.

    In effect thePlatform (note, a VideoNuze sponsor) is using its scale to create a buyer's cooperative to save money on three services (CDN, storage and others), thereby enabling its SMB customers to receive pricing comparable to what big customers can negotiate themselves. With thePlatform's customers driving 440 million video views in December '08, (3rd place after Google's site and Fox Interactive Media) according to comScore, the company is in a strong position to use its size on behalf of its SMB customers. I talked to Marty Roberts, thePlatform's VP Marketing, who explained the specifics of how the savings would work.

    thePlatform's initiatives are based on an analysis it conducted of its SMB customers' key cost elements. No surprise, the cost of delivery was the biggest chunk, coming in at 78% of total. This was calculated using a set of assumptions including $.55/GB for delivery. For its new "mpsManage CDN" service, thePlatform has partnered with EdgeCast to resell its service for $.35/GB, resulting in a 36% savings on delivery costs. It will also be available on a utility basis, meaning no monthly commitments. Marty said that thePlatform will continue to work with its other 15 CDN partners, but I would guess that this new program is going to gain a lot of attention among its SMB customer base.

    Delivery costs have always been a central issue for making the broadband P&L work. Having done many business cases for various content providers over the years, I'm well-acquainted with how quickly CDN costs can gobble up potential profitability even though the cost/GB delivered has plunged over the years. Yet there is a raft of CDNs out there to choose from, and the key is finding the right one for your needs at the moment and your budget. Still delivery costs persist as a major flashpoint: some of you may have read Mark Cuban's post just 2 weeks ago "The Great Internet Video Lie" in which he basically asserted that large CDNs and their pricing are the real gatekeepers to a truly open broadband distribution model (for the record, I think some of his points are valid, but long-term his logic is flawed).

    The other programs thePlatform is rolling out are important, though not as impactful as the delivery option, simply because their percentage of underlying total costs is so much smaller in size. thePlatform is offering a new storage program which slashes the cost of storage from $8/GB on average, to $2/GB. Though a big cut, thePlatform calculates storage only accounts for 5% of total costs today.

    Lastly, through its new Advantage program it's tapping into a select group of its ecosystem partners to find another 10% or more cost reduction on services like advertising, reporting and analytics and online community creation. Advantage program participants include Panache, BlackArrow, TubeMogul, Live Rail, ScanScout, Gloto and Visible Measures.

    Add it all up and thePlatform believes it can offer a 32% reduction in "total cost of ownership" for SMB video content providers. These new services create a new revenue stream for the company, as the reduced prices include a margin for thePlatform as well. And as Marty pointed out the SMB space is quite vibrant and these programs will allow thePlatform to be more competitive in winning deals by giving them another negotiating lever.

    thePlatform's moves are also smart from a positioning standpoint; in this troubled economy I think providers who overtly message that they are doing what they can to save customers money generate valuable notoriety. In good times everyone's focused on top-line growth and wants more features and flexibility. In bad times those goals are still valued, but saving money - which can often make the difference in merely surviving - is prized over everything else (Ben Franklin said it best: "a penny saved is a penny earned"). As a result, I suspect we'll see more companies unveiling messages of this kind in the months to come.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

     
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