• Akamai Launches Media Acceleration to Boost OTT Viewing Experiences

    Akamai has launched Akamai Media Acceleration, a new content delivery technology which boosts the quality of over-the-top video, as well speeds up video game and software downloads. In a briefing, Alex Balford, senior product marketing manager, media, told me that Media Acceleration was developed in order for Akamai customers to deliver broadcast TV quality OTT experiences to viewers, whose expectations continue to rise.

    Alex said that Media Acceleration addresses the last mile connection from the edge of Akamai’s own network to the viewer’s device. It uses an emerging technology standard called “Quick UDP Internet Connections” or “QUIC,” to detect and overcome congestion or latency, including in the viewer’s in-home WiFi network.

    At launch Akamai has enabled Media Acceleration for desktop viewing on Chrome (the only browser that currently natively supports QUIC), Apple’s tvOS and for mobile with both iOS and Android. Alex anticipates support for other browsers and connected TV devices later this year. Media Acceleration is available as an SDK, with content providers including the code in their apps that users would receive as part of regular updates. When Media Acceleration is activated, it works automatically in the background, without the user initiating anything other than the play itself.

    Vimeo has been using Media Acceleration in its beta period and has already seen improvements across 3 key performance indicators: an increase in the percentage of HD plays, reduction in start time and reduction in buffering. Naren Venkataraman, Vimeo’s VP, Engineering, told me that the reduction in start time is particularly critical because this directly correlates to lower abandonment, which of course translates into better viewer satisfaction and monetization.

    Vimeo has currently implemented Media Acceleration on Chrome for desktop viewing and for mobile web, with iOS and Android for mobile coming next.

    Just last Friday in our podcast, Colin and I discussed recent data which shows the inexorable shift in viewing hours to connected and mobile devices, especially for long-form content. As this trend continues, viewers’ expectations that they will received a TV-like experience regardless of the video’s source, will only grow. In this context, Media Acceleration is poised to be a critical building block for content providers to deliver high-quality video.

    Media Acceleration is available immediately for customers and Akamai will demonstrate it at next month’s NABShow in Las Vegas.

    (Note: Akamai is a VideoNuze sponsor)