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.
Have you noticed that live streaming video is getting more and more popular? Lately, sports in particular have been leading the charge, with live streams of PGA golf, US Open tennis, NFL football, Major League Baseball games and British soccer, among others. But sports are hardly the only area where live video streaming is taking off.
Hang out for a few minutes at LiveStream, Ustream, Stickam and Justin.tv, to name a few, and you'll see all manner of live news, talk and business shows, some of which are actually quite good. Of course, you'll also find plenty of the mundane/ridiculous, like webcams pointed mutely at someone's backyard laundry or at London's Tower Bridge. Live streaming is definitely a corner of the market where video has been democratized!
Two key catalysts for this part of the live streaming market have been mobile access (with the iPhone and other smartphones' video capture and playback driving the market) and social media/video sharing (with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others providing instant outlets). A lot of this activity is Flash-based. As both mobile and social trends gain ground, we can expect even more activity in this segment.
Aside from sports, live streaming is also gaining traction for high-profile events, with some companies moving to support this end of the market. For example, today Kyte, which positions itself as a full mobile and online video platform, is introducing "Kyte Live Pro," an add-on that allows HD live streaming from multiple sources and encoding using Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder.
I chatted with Gannon Hall, Kyte's COO yesterday, who explained that while "authentic" content - mainly short live clips - remain popular, Kyte's customers have also been asking for the ability to live stream longer-form events in HD. For example, TV Guide is using Kyte Live Pro this Sunday night to stream the Emmys red carpet pre-show online. Gannon expects other video platform companies, recognizing the opportunity, will start to offer live HD streaming as well. Swarmcast is one company I'm aware of that has made a name for itself broadcasting high-profile live events over the years. Microsoft is also putting a big push behind live, with its Smooth Streaming product.
Moving even further up-market, there's also a huge amount of live video streaming happening among enterprises, educational institutions and government agencies. These entities have much tighter requirements, often needing an on-premise, behind-the-firewall configuration for capture, broadcast and viewing, multi-location secure distribution, transcoding into various formats, integration with other network and other IT components, and mission-critical reliability.
The leader in this part of the market is a company called VBrick (according to research compiled by Frost & Sullivan), whose executives I've spoken to a couple of times recently. VBrick has over 6,000 customers in 56 countries, including 50 Fortune 500 companies, 100 Federal agencies and 900 schools, among others. The range of VBrick uses includes executive broadcasts, training and education, digital signage and surveillance and monitoring, to name a few.
VBrick deploys a hardware appliance that does video capture and transcoding into multiple formats, high-quality distribution over varied networks (LAN, WAN, Internet) and secure viewing at desktops or conference rooms. VBrick also offers "VBoss," which is a SaaS alternative for less frequent/more budget-minded users.
To date, most online video has been consumed on-demand. But this appears to be changing fast. With nearly infinite use cases and technology providers addressing all potential market segments, live video streaming appears poised for lots of growth ahead.
What do you think? Post a comment now.