Netflix Doing Live Webcast Tomorrow Showcasing Their Results Comparing H.264/H.265/VP9

imagesNo one has more experience encoding video for on-demand delivery than Netflix. The company is always working to improve their video compression efficiency to deliver the best video quality possible, with as few bits as possible. And over the past few weeks, the company has been comparing the quality difference between encoding video utilizing H.264, H.265 and VP9. Netflix ran a large-scale comparison to see if the 50% bandwidth improvement over H.264 was applicable to their use case.

Netflix said they, “sampled 5000 12-second clips from our catalog, covering a wide range of genres and signal characteristics. With 3 codecs, 2 configurations, 3 resolutions (480p, 720p and 1080p) and 8 quality levels per configuration-resolution pair, we generated more than 200 million encoded frames. We applied six quality metrics – PSNR, PSNRMSE, SSIM, MS-SSIM, VIF and VMAF – resulting in more than half a million bitrate-quality curves.”

Netflix will present their methodology and results tomorrow, during a live webcast from the SPIE Applications of Digital Image Processing conference, at 11am ET. The link is not yet available, but Netflix’s Anne Aaron will publish the link to Twitter when it’s live.

StreamingMedia.com To Celebrate Growth Of OTT Services With A Week Of OTT Focused Webinars

SM-OTT-Week-2016To celebrate the growth of OTT services in the market, StreamingMedia.com is dedicating an entire week (Sept. 26th – 30th, 2016) of live webinars to the topic of deploying and managing a successful OTT service. Because there are so many different business and technology strategies for going OTT, we want to highlight how content owners can pick and choose the best solutions in the market and help answer some tough questions. The week of webinars will discuss the best ways to handle ingestion, transcoding, media management, protection, ad insertion, delivery, and analytics, amongst a host of other workflow requirements.

It will also give insights into the unique use cases around live linear OTT offerings and technology like live stream stitching. Hear the pros and cons of using a templated, turnkey service that enables faster time-to-market, or why you should or shouldn’t build a more customized, highly differentiated offering in-house. We will publish the agenda for OTT week next month and vendors that want to get involved should contact Joel Unickow.

Streaming Media West Conference Program Live – Now Placing Speakers

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 2.09.01 PMThe program for the next Streaming Media West show, taking place November 1-2 in Huntington Beach CA is now available for viewing, (day oneday two) with all of the session and presentation topics selected. Speaker placement starts today and will close out in about six weeks. If you are interested in one of the speaking positions, please download the program and reach out to me. Spots go fast, so the longer you wait, the less options will be available. I’ve added more how-to, case study and technical sessions to the West program this year with presentations from Facebook, Periscope, Twitter, Viacom, NY Times, LinkedIn, Google Chrome, Roku, Twitch, Tastemade and The Humane Society of the United States. Here’s a list of all the topics in the program:

  • Codec Battles Revisited: HEVC vs AVC in 2016
  • Solving The Challenges of Live Streaming Over Mobile Networks
  • How Periscope Migrated To HTML5 And Low Latency HLS
  • Best Practices For Streaming High-Bitrate Video
  • How To: Streaming Video To The Desktop Without Flash
  • How The Industry Can Address The Challenges Around Virtual Reality
  • Case Study: Live Streaming at The Humane Society of the United States
  • How To Succeed With OTT: Tackling Business Strategy and Unlocking Revenue
  • What Viewers Want: Current and Future Trends in the Video Revolution
  • How To: Deploying Server Side Ad Insertion
  • Best Practices For Executing High Profile Live Streaming Events
  • The Future Of TV: Shifting From Linear To Online
  • How To: Performing Subjective Evaluation of Encoding Technologies
  • Case Study: How Tastemade.com Built Their Own Video Platform
  • Building Audiences On The Roku Platform
  • Emerging Streaming Technologies: Picking The Winners
  • Business and Technical Challenges Of Forensic Watermarking For 4K/UHD
  • How To: Improving The Quality Of Experience By Iterating Your ABR Logic
  • Using Analytics To Create Better Content & Personalize The End-User Experience
  • Best Practices For Building an Internal Streaming Solution
  • How To: Fine-Tuning Your Adaptive Encoding Groups With Objective Quality Metrics
  • Best Practices In Implementing Live and Synchronized OTT Services
  • How To: Choosing And Benchmarking HTML5 Players
  • Latest Advances in Open Source Compression Technology
  • Case Study: Building A Video Publishing Pipeline At The NY Times
  • Building Streaming Workflows For K-12 and Higher Education
  • How To: Build Your Own Cloud Encoder With FFmpeg
  • Best Practices For Captioning Live Video On The Web
  • Using QoE Data To Insure A High-Quality Viewing Experience
  • The Latest With DASH, HLS, and MPEG-CMAF
  • How To: Virtual Reality And 360-Degree Live Streaming

Save The Date! Next NYC Streaming Media Meetup, Sept. 20th

BarcadeNewYork_header2015-2The next meetup of streaming media professionals in NYC will take place on Tuesday September 20th, starting at 6pm at www.barcadenewyork.com – 148 West 24th Street between 6th/7th. Come network, drink and play videos games for free. If you would like to sponsor a meetup, by covering $500 of the bar tab, please let me know. Thanks to Float Left for being the first sponsor!

Barcade has over 50 old school video games, 25 beers on tap and some great food. There is no RSVP needed or list at the door. Just show up with a business card and you are in! You will need a wristband to drink, so introduce yourself to me when you show up.

Thanks to JNK Securities, Hola CDN, Elemental Technologies, and Imagen for sponsoring July’s meetup and PacTV and Kaltura for sponsoring June’s.

I’ll keep organizing these every month so if you want to be notified via email when the next one is taking place, send me an email and I’ll add you to the list.

The Online Video Advertising Market Is Severely Broken, And It’s Only Getting Worse

As a consumer, I want a good user experience when I watch video no matter the platform or device I am using. It’s what all consumers want and something the online video industry has been promising for years. But when it comes to content that is supported by advertising, the market is completely broken, providing a crappy user experience. And it’s been this way for years, with no signs of getting better. In fact, it’s getting worse, much worse.

Because there are almost no standards in the online video advertising market, it makes for a very poor user experience. Every website seems to treat video advertising differently, be it the format, length, quality or functionality of the ad. Vendors that publishers use to deliver and track these ads promise things like targeting, and high-quality engagement, but they fall severely short. It’s the whole reason why the average CPM for non-targeted pre-roll videos has fallen over the years, and now hovers around $10. No advertiser wants to spend a lot of money, except in specific niche cases, because the targeting of the ad, the experience for the consumer and the metrics given back to the advertisers are so poor. Yes, there are some online sites that can charge $25 CPM for pre-roll and get it, but not many.

Day after day, site after site, I get the same pre-roll ad delivered to me ten times in a row. On sites like CNN, ESPN, NFL, etc. many times I get the exact same ad each time, all on different video clips. So either there is a lack of inventory by the publisher, which you then have to question why from a business standpoint, or the technology can’t tell it’s repeating the ad, which I know isn’t the problem. On some sites, the content I want to watch is available in HD quality, but the pre-roll ad is delivered in SD quality. Some websites will deliver a 4:3 ad inside a 16:9 player. One site will run a 30 second pre-roll ad before a video clip that is only 30 seconds in length, but another will stick to only 15 second pre-roll ads for content that is short-form.

Some versions of pre-roll ads will let you skip them, others won’t. And when it comes to the player itself, some ads you can make full-screen, others you can’t. Some you can pause and others don’t let you pause the ad at all. And then you have the problem on some sites that auto-play videos, that start with an ad, which don’t even let you turn them off. I will read an article on a website only to later notice that a video was playing someplace else on the page the whole time, and yet I didn’t see the ad or engage with the video at all. But an advertiser just paid to deliver that ad anyway. Last year, Google said that 46% of the video ads running across the desktop and mobile web (outside of YouTube) never had a chance to be seen. All online video advertising vendors talk about is engagement, and yet the metrics they all use to measure engagement are different or there is no real engagement taking place at all.

And for live streaming, it’s even worse. Server side ad insertion is very hard to do, many vendor solutions in the market do not work, and the consumer experience is poor. If I want to watch a live stream of an event that has already started, I want to get to the stream as quickly as possible because I feel like I am missing out. And yet as an example, for the DCN convention stream on FOXNews.com last week, I had to sit through the page loading, (6 seconds), the player loading the ad, (5 seconds) then the ad itself, (30 seconds), and then the live stream buffering (5 seconds). So 46 seconds after clicking the live stream link, I’m finally getting the content. What is it about that experience that publishers and video advertising vendors think is good?

Nine years ago I wrote a blog post entitled “The Five Biggest Technical Issues Hurting The Growth Of Online Video Advertising” and sadly, almost a decade later, the industry is struggling with the same issues. Nothing has truly changed. Seven years ago I was commenting that there is a shortage of online video advertising inventory, and that’s still a problem today. And the reason for all of this, the dirty little secret so to speak that no one wants to address, is that the cost of dealing with the ad network and technology is in most cases, larger than the revenue from the advertising. At a $10 average CPM, there isn’t a lot of revenue to split up amongst everyone that has to get a piece of the pie. Sure, a site like Hulu can do well with video advertising because of the content they have, but very few sites have content as valuable as Hulu. So you can get high CPMs in the $20-$25 range, but that’s only for high-quality video offerings, which isn’t vast majority of videos on the web.

Demographics is key with advertising, we all know that, and yet almost no targeting is taking place at all when it comes to online video advertising. I get ads for physical stores that aren’t within a hundred miles of where I live. I get ads for senior citizens, which isn’t me. Ads for kids products, which I don’t have. And now I know why so many ads start off with questions like, “are you…”, “do you…” etc. because they don’t know whom that ad is reaching. So not only is there a whole host of technical problems when it comes online video advertising that is preventing the medium from being truly successful, but we also have quite a few business problems as well. Hence why the usage of ad blocking software by consumers continues to climb.

Some will argue by telling me how big the online video advertising market is, but that doesn’t mean the consumer experience is a good one. It’s been a bad experience for the past ten years, and so far, I see nothing on the horizon that gives us any indication it’s going to get better. We’ve seen a lot of promises made, but very little in the way of actual advancement. So we all better get used to seeing the same non-targeted ad, over and over again, because they aren’t going to be going away anytime soon.