Wurl - leaderboard - 7-26-21

Analysis for 'Move Networks'

  • 10 Online/Mobile Video Items from CES Worth Noting

    Happy Friday. Below are 10 interesting CES news items related to online and mobile video that hit my radar this week, but that I didn't have an opportunity to write about. There were many more cool things coming out of Las Vegas, and on so on Wed, January 19th TDG's Colin Dixon and I will present our next complimentary webinar, "Demystifying CES 2011" to review everything more fully. Mark your calendars, registration will be open shortly.

    Intel "Insider" Movie Service unveiled - Intel unexpectedly launched its own online movie service as part of its "Sandy Bridge" chip announcement. The world probably doesn't need another service, but when Intel soon enabled is "WiDi" wireless display to project content to HDTVs, Insider will get more attention.  

    EchoStar acquires Move Networks assets - an inglorious ending for early leader in adaptive bit rate (ABR) streaming. As CDN prices plummeted and ABR competition emerged, Move's service was over-priced and marginalized.

    Funai integrates ActiveVideo Networks into connected devices - The first integration of AVN's "CloudTV" into connected CE devices allows interactive streaming content to be delivered in standard MPEG format.

    Orb BR launches - Orb Networks launches "Orb BR," a disc that inserted into connected Blu-ray players or PS3 that allows viewers to access content from the full Internet. Cost? $19.95. Waiting to try one out, this could be a winner.

    Comcast and Time Warner Cable service coming directly to Sony and Samsung TVs - Hate that cable set top box? Soon Comcast subscribers will be able to buy a connected Samsung TV and access the full Xfinity TV channel lineup. Similarly, Time Warner Cable subscribers will be able to buy Sony connected TV buyers and see the full cable channel lineup. Who would have thought?

    Skype plans to acquire Qik mobile video service - Moving to bulk up its involvement with video, Skype plans to acquire Qik, which allows users to record and share video via mobile devices.

    Motorola and AT&T unveil Atrix 4G - Have a look at this video to see what the future of mobile devices look like - the power of a full computer in your pocket. Two very clever docks mean that users can easily view video on bigger screens as well as work with a full keyboard and mouse.

    Vudu to offer 3D movies - a first for online delivery, aggregator Vudu announced that it is currently offering 3D movies to certain Samsung connected devices, and will soon offer it to PS3, Vizio, LG, Mitsubishi, Toshiba and boxee.  

    Boxee gains access to CBS programs - Boxee broke some new ground by gaining access to CBS programs, something that neither Apple TV, Roku or Google TV currently have. No word on pricing yet.

    Yahoo adds feature to its Connected TV platform - Yahoo, one of the early entrants in the connected TV area, launches a feature call "broadcast interactivity" which allows further engagement with TV program content.

  • LTN - full banner - 5-10-21
  • Move Networks Lays Off Entire Staff

    Move Networks has laid off its entire staff today, with only CFO Jamie Harper remaining, I've learned. Move, which had raised approximately $70 million to date was once a high-flyer in the online video space, powering ABC, Fox and other premium content sites' video.

    However, as I've written, with advances in adaptive bit rate streaming from competitors and plunging delivery pricing from CDNs, Move shifted away from this market to instead become a white-label solution for companies looking to deliver multichannel lineups exclusively through broadband infrastructure. This followed its acquisition of Inuk Networks.

    Move was apparently trying to raise another $30 million but this didn't come to fruition. Move is the third big crater in the online video space, following Joost and Veoh. I've left a voice mail for Jamie Harper and am also digging around for additional details.

    Update: Move has posted a press release which says the company "intends to retain a financial advisor to assist the Company in evaluating strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of the Company." The release also confirms that Roxanne Austin, CEO and President has stepped down, and says that Marcus Liassides will be elevated to President. More updates as they happen.

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).
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  • Fox Switches from Move to Flash; ABC Plans Transition Too

    Fox.com has quietly switched from Move Networks' player to Flash for its online video, with Brightcove powering content management and publishing. Separately, a Disney-ABC spokesperson told me that ABC.com will also be transitioning from Move to Flash in the coming weeks, though both will be used temporarily.

    Neither of the changes will surprise Move. Earlier this week I spoke with Move's Marcus Liassides, who explained that the company is continuing its own transition, evolving from a technology provider to content owners to an end-to-end broadband delivery platform for powering next-generation multichannel video services. Marcus said that Move has been working closely with its content customers to support their respective swap-outs.

    Move was an early leader in adaptive bit rate streaming and gained a ton of visibility for raising close to $70 million, including a whopping $46 million round in April '08. Move gained notice for showing people that the Internet could indeed delivery crystal-clear, high-quality video that could credibly compete with TV viewing. For many, Move's player was very tangible evidence of how far the online video experience had changed since the pioneering days of RealNetworks' RealPlayer just 10+ years earlier.

    Unfortunately the company encountered a perfect storm. First, as CDN prices fell, content providers considered Move an increasingly expensive-looking solution. Then, since Move's customers used a free, ad-supported model, as the recession crimped ad spending their ability to afford a luxury video player deteriorated. Meanwhile, both Microsoft (with Smooth Streaming) and Adobe (with FMS 3.5) both launched their own adaptive bit rate alternatives. Between their ultra-competitive pricing and large embedded customer bases, Move was squeezed from all sides. Compounding matters, Move also conveyed mixed messages about its strategy and rumors about its disjointed product development process were widespread.

    Last June, Marcus provided me with an extensive overview of Move's revamped game plan, which blends Move's underlying delivery system with "virtual set-top box" technology acquired from Inuk Networks. The goal is to provide telcos, broadband ISPs and others with a platform to deliver an end-to-end multichannel linear, live, on-demand and DVR service, all through broadband.

    More recently, Move hired Roxanne Austin, a former DirecTV president and COO as its new CEO, who in turn has brought in new executives to run operations, strategy and business affairs. Last September, Move announced that Cable & Wireless has partnered with it to roll out IP-based TV services. Marcus said that additional customer announcements are forthcoming soon.

    Move has been on a roller-coaster ride since its inception. It is now in the delicate process of shedding existing customers as it migrates to its new model. With innumerable companies vying for a piece of the video market, Move finds itself in the middle the action once again. It will be interesting to see how the company's second act plays out.

    Thursday morning update - Move has announced this morning that Eddy Hartenstein and Sol Trujillo have joined its board of directors. Hartenstein was the founder and CEO/Chairman of DirecTV and is currently the Publisher and CEO of the LA Times. Trujillo was the President/CEO of US West and of Telstra, Australia's largest telecom company. No doubt both bring significant Rolodexes to Move, helping it open doors to large telcos, ISPs and others.

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required)

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  • 4 Items Worth Noting from the Week of September 7th

    Following are 4 news items worth noting from the week of Sept. 7th:

    1. Hulu's boss says it needs to charge for content - Bloomberg ran a story this week quoting Chase Carey, deputy chairman of News Corp (Fox's owner, and therefore a part-owner of Hulu) as saying at a BofA investor conference, "Ad-supported only is going to be a tough place in a fractured world....You want a mix of pay and free."

    VideoNuze readers know that while I've admired Hulu's user experience from the start, I've long been critical of its thin ad model, which falls well short of generating revenue/program/viewer parity with traditional on-air program delivery. That lack of parity has caused Hulu's owners to cordon off access to Hulu on TVs for most viewers. But the networks' fear of cannibalizing their own P&Ls only frustrates loyal Hulu users, who neither understand nor care about such legacy concerns. All of this and more led me months ago to conclude a subscription offering is inevitable from Hulu. The impending TV Everywhere launches, which further marginalize ad-only business models, and now Carey's public remarks, solidify my thinking. We'll soon see some type of Hulu subscription tier.

    2. Move Networks notches a win with Cable and Wireless deal - Score one for Move Networks, which this week announced Cable and its first tier 1 telco customer. Move enables C&W to deliver an HD, linear multichannel video service, plus on-demand and broadband content to its broadband customers, all through existing DSL connections. Move's repositioning, which I wrote about recently, obviates telcos' need to invest billions in upgrading their networks to get into the IPTV business. Indeed, Roxanne Austin, Move's CEO told me yesterday that C&W has for years considered all the various options for getting into video, but has never pulled the trigger until now. The deal covers up to 7 million homes and interestingly, rather than getting a license fee, Move will be paid a share of subscriber revenue. Roxanne says another big deal will be announced shortly.

    3. iPod Nano gets video, battle with Cisco's Flip escalates - As you likely know, Steve Jobs unveiled the new iPod Nano this week, which incorporates an SD video camera. Following the iPhone 3GS adding video recording capability, I think it's pretty clear that Apple has decided video is the next big thing for its devices. As I suggested recently, Apple's embrace is going to drive user-generated video - and YouTube, as the undisputed home for it - to a whole new level.

    But one wonders what this all means for Cisco's recently-acquired Flip video camera, and others from Creative, Sony, Kodak, etc? Cisco in particular has a lot on the line since it just shelled out almost $600M for Flip's parent Pure Digital. Granted Apple's devices are still SD, while Flip now emphasizes HD, but still, getting video recording "for free" as Jobs put it at the launch is pretty compelling for consumers. Even if the Flip deal doesn't work out as planned, Cisco will still be selling a whole lot more routers to handle all of this newly-generated broadband video, so it's a winner either way.

    4. AT&T Wireless adding 3G capacity - In last Friday's "4 Items" post, I noted a great story the NY Times ran showcasing the frustrations that AT&T Wireless customers are experiencing due to the millions of data-intensive iPhones clogging up the network. AT&T has been hearing complaints from all sides, and this week announced 3G network upgrades in 6 cities this year, with plans to cover 25 of the top 30 U.S. cities by the end of next year, and 90% of its current 3G footprint by the end of 2011. These upgrades can't come soon enough for iPhone users. Meanwhile the company's YouTube video, featuring "Seth the blogger guy" explaining how AT&T is addressing network issues itself came under attack, as AdAge reported. There's no pleasing everyone.

    Enjoy the weekend!

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  • Move Networks' New President/CEO Roxanne Austin Explains Company's Advantages

    I spoke to Roxanne Austin this afternoon, whom Move Networks announced as its new president/CEO earlier today. Roxanne is a former president/COO of DirecTV, partner at Deloitte & Touche, and current board member of Ericsson, Target, Abbott Laboratories and Teledyne. Since 2004 she's been running her own investment and consulting firm Austin Investment Advisors. Move's president/CEO slot has been vacant since the spring when John Edwards was shifted to Executive Chairman.

    Roxanne believes Move's distinct competitive advantage is that it is the only provider of end-to-end solutions for high-quality live, streaming and VOD video delivery. Roxanne sees the timing as being right for Move because the industry has evolved to an understanding that broadband video must have both paid and advertising-based models. In addition, it must be able to offer users traditional linear experiences as well as VOD, all in HD.

    My recent post on Move's repositioning detailed the company's new focus on supporting video service providers (e.g. cable, satellite, telco, ISPs, etc.), however Roxanne equally weights content providers (its traditional customer base). As Roxanne put it, "we want to follow the rights." In other words, whoever has the ability to distribute premium video content - either the creator or the authorized distributor - is in Move's sights.

    Roxanne wants to see Move's adaptive bit rate streaming technology remain best-of-breed, even as new competition from Microsoft and Adobe heats up. But I think she correctly emphasizes that the company's total solution - which now includes Inuk's "virtual set-top box" software - is how it will distinguish itself.

    As all industry participants feel the pinch of the recession and the need to demonstrate viable broadband business models, better video quality alone is not sufficient to succeed. Move is betting that by supporting traditional linear, paid models, along with new VOD (and sometimes ad-only)-based models, it will be the technology partner of choice.

    There are a lot of moving pieces here, but Roxanne's industry relationships and know-how surely enhance Move's odds of eventual success.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

  • LTN - full banner - 5-10-21
  • Unveiling Move Networks's New Strategy

    Move Networks, the well-funded Internet television technology company which has been virtually silent for the last 60 days since acquiring Inuk Networks and bumping former CEO John Edwards to Executive Chairman, is pursuing a major repositioning. Earlier this week I met with Marcus Liassides, Inuk's former CEO and founder who joined Move's management team, who previewed the company's new strategy to be a wholesale provider of IPTV video services delivered over open broadband networks.

    Broadband video industry participants know Move best for its proprietary adaptive bit rate (ABR) technology and player, which power super-high quality live and on-demand video streams for broadcasters like ABC and Fox. Move gained a lot of attention by raising over $67M, including a $46M Series C round in April '08 from blue chip investors.

    Despite all this, Marcus explained that coming into 2009 Move had at least 3 significant problems, symbolic of how fluid the broadband video market remains.

    First, its core business of charging content providers in the range of $.30/GB of video delivered was being pressured by the fact that advertising-only business models couldn't support this pricing. Content providers loved Move's quality; they just couldn't afford it, particularly given the alternative of plunging CDN delivery rates.

    Second, Move's pricing and business model were being challenged by both Microsoft and Adobe entering the market with ABR streaming features of their own (I wrote about this here). But because both were enabled on the server side (IIS and FMS respectively), the cost of ABR moved from content providers to CDNs, who might or might not choose to charge extra for these features. Either way, Move's direct cost looked comparatively more expensive, especially as the recession pounded ad spending.

    Last, but not least, Marcus explained that Move's product development approach was undisciplined, leading to resources being spread too thin in too many directions. That was reflected by the market's ongoing difficulty in categorizing which business Move was really in.

    Meanwhile, U.K.-based Inuk, which had been on its own funding and product development roller-coaster, was delivering its Freewire IPTV service to about 200K university students in the UK, Ireland and Canada. Because Inuk needed to serve these students when they were off campus, it had developed a "virtual set-top box" application that duplicates on the PC the IPTV service that had traditionally been delivered via an expensive IPTV set-top box. Inuk was using Move's ABR technology to power video delivery to the PC. Recognizing potential synergies and trying to address its other issues, Move acquired Inuk in April.

    Move's new positioning as a provider of IPTV video services delivered over open broadband networks essentially replicates what Inuk has been doing, except that going forward services will be offered wholesale, not retail like with Freewire. Move's strategy starts from the proposition that to get cable TV networks online requires that they be paid consistent with the norms, rather than expecting them to free and ad-supported only. It also anticipates that consumers demand not just VOD offerings, but a full linear lineup as well (as an aside, that aligns with Sezmi's thinking too). While Move will continue supporting existing customers like ABC and others, its new wholesale model is a major shift in that it uses the company's core technology to support packaged multichannel video services, instead of a la carte web-based video.

    Marcus explained that Move is targeting 3 verticals: (1) telcos which haven't traditionally offered video services (or have through direct satellite partnerships), (2) broadband ISPs looking to get into the video business, and (3) existing video service providers looking for a lightweight capex approach for extending their service either for remote access (a la "TV Everywhere") or in other rooms in the house (a model which has traditionally required another set-top box and truck roll for installation).

    Marcus demo'd the Freewire service to me using his PC and a large monitor, and it looks great. There's instant channel changing, HD (when available), a great looking guide and auto-DVR of every program, all in the cloud. Freewire also offers targeted advertising, and HTML-based apps like Twitter integration, etc. My caveat is that I have no idea how well the service would scale to millions of homes.

    Move's new positioning puts it in the middle of tectonic video industry shifts. For example, what's the appetite of 3rd parties like telcos and ISPs for new video solutions? Will other, well-suited consumer brands like Google, Netflix, Yahoo enter the multichannel video business, and if so how? What approach will cable operators like Comcast use for emerging, "TV Everywhere" services that would benefit from Move's lightweight capex model (note Comcast said it was using Move in its 5,000 subscriber technical trial yesterday)? How will major cable TV networks expect to get compensated in the broadband era where individuals, not homes, are the new unit of measurement? How will local ISPs, over whose networks remotely-accessed video will run, expect to be compensated? It's way too early to know the answers, but if Move's technology works as intended, and its costs are reasonable, it will likely find itself in the middle of a lot of very strategic industry discussions.

    Another big change is that Marcus said the company's messaging will be focused more around business cases and services than its specific technologies. That seems smart given giants like Microsoft and Adobe are closely circling these waters with lots of their own technology, which could easily swamp Move. If all this wasn't enough, Move is also in the midst of hiring a new CEO and implementing a new management team, all of which will be announced imminently. One thing Move isn't doing for now is raising additional capital, which Marcus said is not needed.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

    (Note: Move Networks is a current sponsor of VideoNuze)

  • LTN - full banner - 5-10-21
  • HD and Convergence Themes Pick Up Steam at NAB Show

    Two highly related broadband video themes - HD delivery and convergence between broadband and TV - are both picking up steam at this week's NAB show. Among the key announcements are:

    Adobe extending Flash into digital home devices

    Move Networks acquiring Inuk Networks (announced just this morning)

    Akamai detailing HD monetization opportunities in new white paper with IDC

    Microsoft releasing "Smooth Streaming" HD delivery feature in its IIS Media Services

    Limelight supporting Microsoft's IIS and Adobe Flash Media Server 3.5

    Brightcove and Adobe expanding its partnership to enable delivery higher-quality long-form programming, among other things

    CDNetworks commercially deploying first Adobe Flash Media Server 3.5 for first time

    And separate from the show, TiVo and Roku supporting Amazon VOD HD titles

    The entire broadband video ecosystem is getting more and more focused on both HD delivery and convergence. However, the former, which is primarily an infrastructure upgrade, is easier to execute on than the latter, which almost always requires users to buy and install some new device (either single or multi-purpose). Given the lousy economy and natural replacement cycles, this means that for many users, those gorgeous online HD experiences will be viewed on their computers for some time to come.

    I think that's actually OK though. By proliferating online HD delivery, users will increasingly be getting a taste of what would be available to them if their broadband was connected to their TVs. Further, plenty of early adopters will become evangelists, showing off online HD experiences for their friends and families. Making things more tangible will help create the necessary promotional tailwind that convergence devices need to succeed.

    Convergence has been a long time in coming, but the elements are now beginning to fall into place. I believe that the more HD content that's available online, the faster the convergence device market will develop.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

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  • January '09 VideoNuze Recap - 3 Key Themes

    Following are 3 key themes from VideoNuze in January:

    Broadband video marches to the TV - At CES in early January there were major announcements around connecting broadband to TVs, either directly or through intermediary devices (a recap of all the news is here). All of the major TV manufacturers have put stakes in the ground in this market and we'll be seeing their products released during the year. Technology players like Intel, Broadcom, Adobe, Macrovision, Move Networks, Yahoo and others are also now active in this space. And content aggregators like Netflix and Amazon are also scaling up their efforts.

    Some of you have heard me say that as amazing as the growth in broadband video consumption has been over the last 5 years, what's even more amazing is that virtually all of it has happened outside of the traditional TV viewing environment. Consider if someone had forecasted 5 years ago that there would be this huge surge of video consumption, but by the way, practically none of it will happen on TVs. People would have said the forecaster was crazy. Now think about what will happen once widespread TV-based consumption is realized. The entire video landscape will be affected. Broadband-to-the-TV is a game-changer.

    Broadband video advertising continues to evolve - The single biggest determinant of broadband video's financial success is solidifying the ad-supported model. For all the moves that Netflix, Amazon, iTunes and others have made recently in the paid space, the disproportionate amount of viewership will continue to be free and ad-supported.

    This month brought encouraging research from ABC and Nielsen that online viewers are willing to accept more ads and that recall rates are high. We also saw the kickoff of "the Pool" a new ad consortium spearheaded by VivaKi and including major brands and publishers, which will conduct research around formats and standards. Three more signs of advertising's evolution this month were Panache's deal with MTV (signaling a big video provider's continued maturation of its monetization efforts), a partnership between Adap.tv and EyeWonder (further demonstrating how ecosystem partners are joining up to improve efficiencies for clients and publishers) and Cisco's investment in Digitalsmiths (a long term initiative to deliver context-based advanced advertising across multiple viewing platforms). Lastly, Canoe, the cable industry's recently formed ad consortium continued its progress toward launch.

    (Note all of this and more will be grist for VideoNuze's March 17th all-star panel, "Broadband Video '09: Building the Road to Profitability" Learn more and register here)

    Broadband Inauguration - Lastly, January witnessed the momentous inauguration of President Barack Obama, causing millions of broadband users to (try to) watch online, often at work. What could have been a shining moment for broadband delivery instead turned into a highly inconsistent and often frustrating experience for many.

    In perspective this was not all that surprising. The Internet's capacity has not been built to handle extraordinary peak load. However on normal days, it still does a pretty good job of delivering video smoothly and consistently. As I wrote in my post mortem, hopefully the result of the inauguration snafus will be continued investment in the infrastructure and technologies needed to satisfy growing demand. That's been the hallmark of the Internet, underscored by the fact that 70 million U.S. homes now connect to the 'net via broadband vs. single digit millions just 10 years ago. I remain confident that over time supply will meet demand.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

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  • Recapping CES '09 Broadband Video-Related Announcements

    CES '09 is now behind us. As has become typical, this year's show saw numerous broadband video product and technology announcements. As I wrote often last week, the key theme was broadband-enabled TVs. Assuming TV manufacturers deliver on their promises, Christmas '09 should mark the start of real growth in the installed base of connected TVs.

    Here are the noteworthy announcements that I caught, in no particular order (I'm sure I've missed some; if so please add a comment and include the appropriate link):

    Intel and Adobe to Extend Flash Platform to TVs

    Adobe and Broadcom Bring the Adobe Flash Platform to TVs

    Samsung and Yahoo Bring the Best of the Web to Television

    Yahoo Brings the Cinematic Internet to Life and Revolutionizes Internet-Connected Television

    LG Electronics First to Unveil "Broadband HDTVs" That Instantly Stream Movies From Netflix

    LG Electronics Launches Broadband HDTVs with "Netcast Entertainment Access"

    Sony Debuts Integrated Networked Televisions

    Vizio Announces New and Exciting "Connected HDTV" Platform with Wireless Connectivity

    Netflix Announces Partnership with Vizio to Instantly Stream Movies to New High Definition TVs

    MySpace Partnerships Bring Web Site to TV Set

    Macrovision to Bring Instant Access to Digital Content Directly to Internet-Connected Televisions

    Move Networks Improves Delivery of High Definition Internet Television to Intel-based Mobile Internet Devices and Netbooks

    NETGEAR Unveils Two New Internet-Connected Set-Top Products to Enrich TV Entertainment for Internet Families and Serious Media Enthusiasts

    Amazon Video on Demand Brings Customers New-Release Movies and TV Shows to the Roku Digital Video Player

    Cisco Brings Manufacturers Together to Make Connected Home Products Simple to Set-up and Easy to Use

    Sling Media Introduces SlingGuide: Redefining Search and Discovery for Satellite, Cable and Terrestrial Broadcast Programming

    blip.tv and ActiveVideo Networks Sign Deal to Bring Original Online Shows Directly to Television

    Hillcrest Labs and Texas Instruments Showcase RF4CE Remote Controls with Freespace Technology

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  • NFL.com's "Game Rewind" Feature is Pretty Cool

    I got a tip yesterday about "Game Rewind," a feature that NFL.com has apparently launched in the last week or so. For a mere $20/season, you can now watch full, commercial-free replays of all the season's games. The video is delivered in terrific quality by Move Networks, and as seen below, also offers a side window that shows a synopsis of the game's scoring. I'm not a huge football fan, but since I missed the exciting end of last week's Patriots-Seahawks game, I simply dragged to the fourth quarter and sat back and enjoyed (btw, how nice is it to watch commercial-free?!).


    One suggestion for the NFL team: introduce EveryZing's MetaPlayer, Gotuit VideoMarkerPro or Digitalsmiths (or someone else's metadata-based search technology) so that fans can quickly retrieve only the highlights they care about (especially for the fantasy crowd). If I just want to see Matt Cassel's touchdown passes, it would sure be nice to enter that phrase and be shown those specific highlights only. Still, Game Rewind is a very cool new feature, of course only possible courtesy of broadband delivery.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

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  • Video Quality Keeps Improving - What's it All Mean?

    Is it just me, or are you also noticing that the quality of your online video experience is getting consistently better and better? Even though I'm totally immersed in the space, periodically I will find myself watching something online and still think to myself, "This quality is just unreal!"

    I've had the experience of watching some or all of the following recently: the Democratic convention on demconvention.com, the movie "Ordinary People" on Hulu, swimming on NBCOlympics.com, trailers on Fancast and "Eli Stone" on ABC.com, among others. In each case, the quality of the video is outstanding, even in full screen mode.

    All of this is due to tremendous innovation in the content delivery world. This includes not only traditional CDNs such as Akamai, Limelight, Level 3, CDNetworks and others, but a raft of other players specifically focused on optimizing video delivery quality such as Move Networks, Swarmcast, Digital Fountain, Vusion, BitGravity and others. Further enhancing the experience are improvements in media players like Windows Media, Flash, QuickTime and more recently Silverlight.

    The innovation and investment in this space shows no signs of abating. I was reminded of this just last week in a call with Perry Wu, CEO and co-founder of BitGravity, which yesterday announced a strategic relationship and investment from Tata Communications (part of Tata Group, the massive Indian conglomerate).

    Perry explained that the underlying theme of the deal is to deliver video at consistently high quality on a global basis. That aspiration fits with the increasingly international-oriented distribution strategies I hear about from content providers. While fast-growing international markets have been core growth drivers for content companies, frictionless and cost-effective IP delivery is creating a whole new ball game. I expect international reach - and the ability to monetize with locally-appropriate advertising - to become more and more important.

    Meanwhile, back in the U.S. surging video quality means the bar is getting higher for all video providers. Delivering video without a full-screen option, or where the audio and video aren't synched perfectly, or where rewind/instant play isn't available will soon be perceived as sub-par. For budget-minded broadband content startups this will require heavier investments in delivery services if they're to be taken seriously.

    For traditional networks and the Hollywood community, higher quality broadband delivery means the shift from on-air to online consumption will only accelerate. As more consumers come to see broadband as a legitimate alternative, they'll continue modifying their behaviors. With these shifting eyeballs comes a slew of economic challenges (the "analog dollars to digital pennies" anxiety) that must be urgently addressed.

    Lastly, for the owners of local broadband networks (cable operators, telcos, etc.) surging video quality increases the pressure on their networks' delivery capacity. When a handful of users are watching high-quality long-form video that's one thing. But what happens when it's the norm? Bandwidth management and net neutrality debates are sure to intensify.

    While all of these uncertainties swirl, consumers are gleefully seeing a high-quality video Internet unfold that just a few years ago would have seemed unimaginable.

    What do you think? Post a comment.

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  • Microsoft Invests in Move Networks, Jointly Power Democratic Convention Video

    Move Networks will officially announce tomorrow morning that Microsoft has joined its Series C round as a strategic investor. The $46 million round was unveiled last April and was led by Benchmark Capital. The two companies also recently announced that Move would be integrated with Microsoft's Silverlight media player. The curtain on this first example of their integration is going up momentarily as the companies have also announced they're powering the video feed from the Democratic convention at http://www.demconvention.com/.

    With the convention video, Microsoft continues the momentum Silverlight generated during the just-wrapped up '08 Summer Olympics. Meanwhile Move burnishes its reputation for high-quality delivery gained through deals with ABC, Discovery, Fox and others. These two are natural partners.

  • LTN - full banner - 5-10-21
  • Non-Linear Presentation + Long-form Premium Video = Big Opportunity

    I continue to be surprised that more long-form premium content providers have not pursued initiatives to slice and dice their programs into a non-linear user presentation. This is what "The Daily Show" has done at its site, deconstructing every episode into searchable clips. I think it's a big opportunity to drive more fan engagement, new ad inventory and provide insight about new programming ideas.

    While this idea is a natural for archived sports and news programming, I think the model applies to scripted programs as well. Here's an example:

    As I've written before, my wife and I were huge fans of "The West Wing" during its seven-year run on NBC. While we now own the full DVD collection, periodically I'll talk to someone about the show and reminisce about a specific moment from years back. (In fact, TWW seems cosmically related to the current election cycle, given the show's last narrative around 2 candidates - one younger and one older - battling to succeed Bartlet.) This spurs many of those, "boy, I'd love to see that scene right now!" moments.

    So wouldn't it be awesome if NBC or Warner Bros. (its producer), or whoever has the rights, were to create a site where all the episodes were archived and fully indexed for searching? This would go far beyond the show's current lame-o web site. I could type in "Bartlet speeches," "Josh meltdowns" or even "C.J.-Danny fights" and instantly see collections of relevant clips.

    Before you accuse me of being geeky, stop and consider that we all have our favorite programs and love to relive memorable lines and moments. I'd argue that a really vibrant community could be built at these sites, attracting traditional advertisers eager to continue their audience relationships. Then of course there's the opportunity to embed clips into Facebook and MySpace pages, extending the community further. And think about what this ongoing loyalty would do to drive up the value of broadcast syndication rights.

    The big challenge here is indexing the archive. The process must rely heavily on accurate metadata generation, but in a highly scalable, cost-effective manner. That's a mouthful of requirements, so clearly this isn't easy stuff. Various players are trying to crack this nut; two which I've previously written about are Gotuit (which is announcing a partnership with Move Networks today) and EveryZing, but there are others too. Recently I've had briefings with 2 companies that are investing in this area and will have news in the coming months.

    Long-from premium providers are facing an onslaught of competition from short-form alternatives while also commonly experiencing a shortage of available inventory. Non-linear presentations of their content addresses both these issues, while delighting loyal fans. I see this as an emerging and sizable opportunity.

    Am I missing something here? Post a comment now!

  • Wurl - full banner - 7-25-21
  • Overview of New Brightcove 3 Beta Release

    Today Brightcove is announcing the beta version of its Brightcove 3 platform. Last week CEO/Founder Jeremy Allaire briefed me on what he called a "pretty dramatic new version of the platform." There are three new areas:

    1. Contextualization - Brightcove is changing how its customers display their video from the current standalone video player/index environment to one where the player window is embedded within in an HTML page with surrounding contextual content and ads. In tests it has done, Brightcove has found that, no surprise, integrating the video window results in more video and page views. Also by surfacing video in context, it enhances search engine optimization. This is similar to EveryZing's SEO-focused approach. (see my profile). Brightcove has new APIs that work with existing content management systems to match relevant non-video content.

    2. Dynamic delivery - Brightcove is upping its emphasis on high-quality long-form content by introducing a dynamic delivery feature that modulates the quality of the video delivered based on detection of the user's bandwidth. This adaptive bit rate streaming idea was pioneered by Move Networks and allows on-the-fly video file delivery adjustments. Brightcove is doing this on top of Flash with no new plug-in required by users. It will also automatically generate various encoded files for customers.

    3. Producer tools overhaul - Brightcove is updating the back-end work flow tools that its customers' producers use, so they can more quickly do things like upload large video files, create tags, generate business rules, transcode files and so forth. Jeremy demo'd it for me; it's a complete drag and drop environment that looked pretty straightforward.

    All-in-all these look like positive steps. Since Brightcove had invested heavily in its earlier versions, I give them credit for emphasizing continuous improvement and not sitting still. Brightcove 3 is in beta (Showtime is one site that's already using it) with wider deployment in the fall. Jeremy added that other updates are expected then too. I pried out of him that these will include monetization and distribution/syndication among others.

  • LTN - full banner - 5-10-21
  • News from NAB

    The press releases began flying today, timed with NAB's kickoff. Here are a few that caught my eye:

    Move Networks Raises $46 Million

    Move continues its fund-raising prowess, raising a large C round. As more content providers push the HD quality bar, Move's content delivery services have increased appeal.

    Signiant Powers Hulu's Distribution Efforts

    Hulu, the NBC-Fox aggregator is using Signiant's media management platform to ingest content from the various content partners it works with.

    Widevine Provides Content Security for Microsoft's Silverlight

    For the first time Microsoft has used a third-party content security system to add a layer of protection for content providers using the company's new rich media plug-in.

    EveryZing Introduced "RAMP," Signs Up Cox Radio

    Building on its recent launch of EZSearch and EZSEO to enable video discovery, EveryZing has introduced a management console for the products for which Cox Radio will be the first customer.

    Live Streaming Quality Bar Raised Via Mogulus-Kulabyte Partnership

    Live streaming gains further traction as Mogulus and Kulabyte announce deal to bring high-quality live Flash streaming to producers.

    No doubt there will be plenty more over the next couple of days.

  • LTN - full banner - 5-10-21
  • Move Networks $40.1M Round Could Increase, '08 Expansion Planned

    Move Networks, which quietly closed on a recent $40.1 million second round, may expand it further pending diligence being conducted by one more investor. Move CEO John Edwards shared the information with me in a briefing. The company still hasn't officially announced the round or its participants. John did say they're mainly strategic investors and the official word should come in a couple of weeks. The funding comes on top of its $11.3 million first round announced in February '07.

    Move is focused on high-quality broadband video delivery, especially for long-form content, and optimizing the user experience. It is clearly gaining traction with both customers (e.g. Disney, Fox, CW, Discovery, etc.) and users. Move's client runs its proprietary adaptive "stream selection protocol", which dynamically detects the user's bandwidth and CPU, thereby optimizing the video experience. This leads to low video stall-out or re-buffering incidents, which Move believes is the #1 cause for terminating video sessions.

    John shared a few interesting statistics. Its customers have delivered Move-powered video to a cumulative 27 million users since March '07. Using its client, Move can track all manner of user behavior including time spent with the selected video. This yields another stat: for a single one hour episode delivered, approximately 60% watch longer than 30 minutes, with an average session length of 53 minutes.

    Demonstrating that it can deliver higher-quality video and consistently longer viewing is at the heart of Move's value proposition, as it allows content providers to sell more ad inventory, driving top line revenue and ROI. Move also offers an ad module, allowing improved targeting and insertion of flexible cue points based on user behaviors plus a drag-and-drop syndication feature. The company also focuses on reducing customer expenses by optimizing delivery over multiple CDNs and augmenting this with a peer-sharing capability.

    Move has a lot on its plate going into '08. John says they are running projects with all the major networks, are supporting all the live streaming for the Olympics plus lots of other live event broadcasts, rolling out integrations with set-top boxes and expanding internationally with new offices in Europe and Asia.

  • LTN - full banner - 5-10-21
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