Live streaming is continuing to get a lot of mind share these days from both content providers and technology companies. The latest example in the latter category is Brightcove, which yesterday introduced in beta the Brightcove Video Cloud Live, a module to support live streaming across multiple devices.
A key part of Video Cloud Live is the recently announced Brightcove Zencoder Live Transcoding service, which provides live transcoding as a scalable API. This obviates the need for content providers to purchase and maintain their own hardware for encoding live events. This in turn reduces cost and complexity of running live events, making them far more feasible to offer to viewers. The Zencoder service also produces multiple adaptive bitrate streams so that users on various devices get the right stream for them.
Following is a contributed post by Frank Sinton who is the CEO and founder of Beachfront Media, a video solutions platform for publishers, advertisers, and enterprises. Previously, he worked for Sony Pictures Entertainment as executive director of architecture.
Video Apps, Devices, and Fragmentation: How to Navigate the Maze
by Frank Sinton
Fragmentation has long been an issue in the mobile industry. Even with the advent of the smartphone era, it’s still a problem. Take these stats from a recent report by app analytics company Flurry:
"Suppose you’re an app developer who wants to ensure that your app is optimized to function well on 80% of the individual connected devices currently in use (e.g., my iPad, your Windows phone). How many different device models (e.g., Kindle Fire HD 8.9" Wi-Fi, Galaxy S III) do you think you need to support? 156. Maybe you’re okay with having your app optimized for only 60% of active devices. That still means that you need to support 37 different devices. Even getting to 50% means supporting 18 devices, as shown below. If you’re a large or particularly thorough app developer, reaching 90% of active devices will require supporting 331 different models."
Topics: Beachfront Builder
Traditionally most online video has been on-demand, but recently that has begun to change with more live events delivered online all the time. The trend has been driven primarily by sports, news and music, but other categories like entertainment are also following along.
For content providers, live presents numerous new workflow complexities vs. on-demand in areas such as encoding, ad insertion, stream management, metadata, device support, etc. To address this complexity and try to streamline workflows, thePlatform is today introducing a single web-based console in its mpx platform that can handle key tasks including signal acquisition and encoding via an integration with Elemental (so encoding can be managed within the console), dynamic ad insertion and metadata creation plus archiving to VOD for replays.
Getting a branded video to go hugely viral is like catching lightning in a bottle - it's hard to predict and very rare. But a viral video's huge branding benefits through free, or so-called "earned media" impressions, makes it extremely appealing.
Now Visible Measures, which has been tracking video viewership across devices for years, and Publicis Groupe's VivaKi and Starcom MediaVest have developed a planning tool called CONTAGION that uses data to help brands and agencies actually plan for how viral a branded video campaign could be. CONTAGION is launching today for use by Publicis Groupe agencies for a year before becoming available to the broader market.
Grab Media, which has been at the forefront of what I've called the "Syndicated Video Economy," is gaining traction with its recently-released "GrabPress" video plug-in for the WordPress content management system. GrabPress allows publishers of any size using WordPress to quickly customize and embed a feed of video from Grab Media' s ever-growing catalog of 500K+ video clips directly into their web pages. Grab Press has been downloaded 3,500 times to date.
Grab executives recently explained to me that while the company's core mission of connecting video providers with a distribution network of publishers remains the same, the mechanism for doing so has changed significantly over the past year. The big driver of this is that advertisers have become reluctant to place video ads against syndicated video content showing up in right column 300x250 units. As such, Grab has sought, with GrabPress, to enable video content to be more contextually integrated with publishers' own content.
I'm pleased to share the final 3 video interviews that I did at NABShow 2013 today. Below you will find interviews with Kevin Norris, president and CEO, Brevity, Dustin Encelewski, Director of Product Marketing, Elemental Technologies and Tim Street, VP, Mobile Video, mDialog. All of the interviews are in the final player at bottom.
The cloud continues to create more flexibility in both video production and distribution, with the latest example being "Reach Engine Stage," a video/media management system that allows producers at multiple sites to collaborate more efficiently. Reach Engine Stage was developed by Levels Beyond, a privately-held company based in Denver with deep roots in video workflows.
At the NABShow, Levels Beyond's co-found Danny Gold stopped by the VideoNuze booth to explain Reach Engine Stage and give more background on the company. Levels Beyond has been low-key, but recently raised a round of funding and is now used by a number of major media companies for their online video workflows.
Topics: Levels Beyond
LiveU, which pioneered the bonding of cellular broadband cards to enable flexible live mobile broadcasting, has gained a huge following among TV networks and stations. Now it has introduced a new, even lighter-weight backpack unit that enables any content provider - no matter how small - to affordably become a live mobile broadcaster.
At the recent NABShow, Ken Zamkow, director of sales and marketing for LiveU, brought one of the new backpacks, the LU40-2 ("LU40 squared") by the VideoNuze booth and showed it off. It weighs less than 10 pounds and is very compact, allowing up to 13 cellular channels and controllable through a smartphone interface.
Last week at the NABShow I did a short video interview with Kurt Michel, Akamai's director of product marketing - media solutions. Akamai has always been known primarily as a content delivery network, but as Kurt explains, it is broadening its positioning to become an online media platform.
Akamai is responding to what it is hearing from its media customers, that they're experiencing unprecedented challenges given the proliferation of devices, formats, networks and bandwidth variability. As a result, Akamai has expanded beyond delivery to also offer content preparation and workflow solutions under its Sola Vision branding.
At the NABShow last week I did a short video interview with Albert Lai, Brightcove's CTO for Media and Broadcast. In the interview, Albert explained Brightcove's expanded TV Everywhere integrations with Adobe Pass and Akamai's Sola Vision Identity Services.
It's well understood that if content providers are to distribute to multiple devices via TV Everywhere, security and authentication are paramount. By integrating with Adobe and Akamai, Brightcove is trying to provide its content customers with multiple authentication choices depending on their preferences, helping reduce friction in TVE rollouts.
Video ad tech providers FreeWheel and Mixpo have collaborated with Discovery Communications to deliver the first VPAID 2.0-enabled video ad campaign across desktop and mobile. The interactive in-stream ads are running on Discovery's Animal Planet online and mobile properties.
VPAID 2.0 is an IAB standard that defines a common interface between video players and ad units, enabling in-stream interactivity. It obviates the need for advertisers to create custom code in order for an interactive campaign to work across multiple video players. As a result, interactive campaigns can be deployed across desktop and mobile far quicker and more cost-effectively, while using common ad serving/decisioning. (Mixpo created a short video explaining all this).
Adobe Primetime (formerly "Project Primetime") has officially launched in general availability. Adobe Primetime is positioned as a full video publishing and monetization platform that includes publishing, player, DRM, advertising and analytics components for use by both content providers and pay-TV operators across multiple screens. At the NABShow this week I interviewed Ashley Still, director of product management for Adobe Primetime, who explained its key benefits (see video below).
At NABShow this year, my weekly podcast partner Colin Dixon from nScreenMedia and I are doing a series of video interviews with industry executives, which I'll be posting over the next couple of weeks. Kicking off our series today I'm pleased to share Colin's interview with Jay Fulcher, CEO of Ooyala.
In the interview, Jay talks at length about several of Ooyala's recent innovations including Hook, which is a mobile video playback app for Android; XTV Connect, an Airplay-like feature bridging mobile video to connected TVs; and Ooyala Discovery Guide, which allows content providers to "assemble" a personalized viewing experience. VideoNuze recently covered them here.
Teads.tv, a French ad tech provider, has an interesting solution to the scarcity of premium video ad inventory: enable premium text-based web pages to carry video ads as well. In-page video ads and rich media units have been around for a while for a similar purpose, but Teads.tv's "InRead" unit is a different approach that I believe nicely balances advertiser concerns about viewability and performance with publisher/user concerns about experience.
Video management platform provider Ooyala is introducing several new features today to make online and mobile video more accessible and pervasive across devices. The new features include Hook (a mobile video playback app for Android), XTV Connect (to bridge mobile video to any connected TV) and Ooyala Discovery Guide (to create live/VOD program guides). Below I describe each in more detail and explain their respective importance.
U.K. based online video ad technology provider Videoplaza is unveiling Karbon 2, the next generation of its sell side ad management platform today. In addition, the company is launching Karbon Data Alliance, a network of data partners that enable Videoplaza content publisher customers to better analyze their audiences and create targeted monetizable segments. Karbon Data Alliance includes data management partners Nugg.Ad, Meetrics, Enreach, Eyota, Bluekai and others TBD.
It wasn't that long ago when the back-end delivery systems for traditional pay-TV services and those for over-the-top video services were quite distinct. Ditto for the in-home set-top devices that viewers use to receive these disparate video services. But as pay-TV operators continue to standardize on IP, the cloud becomes ever more pervasive and devices more powerful, those distinctions are melting away.
The latest example comes this morning from the UK, where thePlatform, a U.S.-based Comcast subsidiary, has announced that its mpx video management system is now powering key elements of BT's actual TV services, BT Vision and YouView from BT. According to thePlatform, mpx is supporting BT's video workflow, coordinating playback data with recommendations engines and enforcing video rights for subscribers. mpx has been integrated with BT's existing systems for content delivery, set-top boxes and user experience.
Multiplatform video services provider Avail-TVN has rebranded itself as Vubiquity. Chief Marketing Officer Laurie Lawrence told me last week that the new branding is meant to convey that "no other company does more to make video available ubiquitously."
Vubiquity works with both content providers and service providers to prepare, deliver and monetize video across devices. It manages more than 28K hours of content/month from 340 different content providers that reaches over 75 million homes through 270 different service providers. Among the services Vubiquity provides are encoding, metadata management, dynamic ad insertion, linear channel delivery, TV Everywhere authentication, cloud-based delivery, data analytics and marketing.
For more on Vubiquity, see this video interview I did with CEO Ramu Potarazu at last year's Cable Show:
Another milestone today in advertisers' ongoing quest for clearer insights into how their TV and online video ads perform together: Extreme Reach, a company that until now has mainly focused on distributing TV ad creative to local TV stations, is announcing a suite of cross-media reports that integrate performance metrics from actual TV and online video campaigns. As a result, agencies and advertisers are able to optimize spending in each media and can understand how different permutations of spending and creative drive different results.
As viewers fragment their behavior over connected and mobile devices, the ability to measure ad performance across screens is becoming an increasingly urgent problem for advertisers. Because metrics for online video campaigns are silo'd from TV ad reporting, it is virtually impossible for media buyers to truly understand how the two sets of campaigns worked together.
upLynk, which provides a single HD adaptive streaming format, has extended its technology solution to also incorporate native video ad insertion. Whereas traditional video ad insertion requires logic in the video player upLynk moves it all to the server. By integrating the ads with the content this way, upLynk is able to deliver a single continuous adaptive stream to the player. By reducing the player's workload, viewers get a smoother, buffer-free video experience. This in turn builds viewer loyalty and view times, which are critical to ad monetization.