Thursday Webinar – Streaming Major Sporting Events

Thursday at 2pm ET, I’ll be moderating another StreamingMedia.com webinar, this time on the topic of, “Streaming Major Sporting Events.” For broadcasters, content owners, and over-the-top (OTT) video service providers, major challenges include delivering a seamless live viewing experience to a very large audience, as well as implementing profitable monetization strategies. In this roundtable webinar, we will explore techniques successfully used to provide a satisfying live viewing experience coupled with successful monetization models that support various business strategies. Join speakers from Level 3, Vindicia and The Diffusion Group and bring your questions for a discussion on:

  • Live Video Acquisition
  • Media Processing
  • Workflow Automation
  • Flexibility of content and promotion
  • Monetization including Advertising, Pay-per View Processing, Authentication, Subscription & DRM
  • Scaling Architecture
  • Cloud Platforms, APIs and Legacy Systems
  • Security
  • Multiscreen Delivery – Strategies, Workflows, and Quality

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from industry experts who have conquered these challenges. You’ll learn how to build new revenue streams by delivering live video to many people, in many formats, on many devices, over many networks. You can register for free here.

Mike Dunkle, Network Infrastructure at Valve To Keynote Content Delivery Summit

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 11.50.34 AMI’m pleased to announced that Mike Dunkle from Valve’s network operations and infrastructure group will be the opening keynote at the Content Delivery Summit, taking place Monday, May 11th, at the Hilton Midtown in NYC. If you’ve ever wondered how a platform to support 100 million registered users gets built, this is the keynote to attend.

Now in its seventh year, the Content Delivery Summit is the place to meet those who are building out some of the largest public and private CDN deployments to date. Attendees will see case studies on real-world deployments, demos of new technology platforms and discussions on business models for both on-net and off-net delivery. But it’s not just about streaming and last-mile video delivery. The summit also covers other web acceleration technologies including dynamic content delivery, transparent caching, app acceleration, QoS measurement, front-end optimization, mobile content acceleration and more.

The call for speakers for the Content Delivery Summit is still open, so if you have interest in speaking at the event, now is the time to send in a submission or contact me. Online registration for the event will open within the next two weeks. If you would like a discount code for the event, email me and I’ll be happy to send you one.

Streaming Media East Program Now Available, Speaker Placement Starts Today

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 2.50.55 PMI’ve just finished laying out the advance program for the Streaming Media East show, taking place May 12-13 in NYC. We’ve got a lot of new session topics and presentations this year and now that all of the topics have been chosen, myself and the moderators will start placing speakers. If you are interested in speaking on a session, download the agenda (word doc) to see which sessions are available and follow the instructions on the document.

Below is a list of all the session and presentation topics, but note that some of these do not have speaking spots available on them. So download the agenda for full details. In addition, all of our sessions and presentations this year are listed within nine different categories:

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 3.03.27 PM

  • How OTT Is Disrupting The Pay TV Business
  • Benchmarking Your Broadcast Video Workflow
  • Twitter, Facebook & Snapchat: On-demand Social Video & The Real-Time Feed
  • How To: Bringing Media Channels to Amazon Fire TV
  • 4K/UHD Streaming: Definitions, Challenges, and Champions
  • Codecs, Containers, and Protocols: Digital Media Formats For Online Distribution
  • Creating Revenue Streams From New OTT Services
  • How To: Building A Chromecast Application
  • Demo: Smart TV Platforms In Action
  • Enterprise Delivery: Building an Internal Streaming Solution
  • Dissecting Big Data: Trends In Video Consumption and Behavior
  • Implementing New Technologies With MPEG-DASH
  • Developing OTT Apps for Multiple Platforms
  • How To: H.265 vs. H.264, An Under the Hood Assessment
  • Measuring The ROI On A HEVC Deployment
  • Expanding Outside YouTube: Creating A Multi-Channel Network Strategy
  • Monetizing the Multi-Screen Consumer Experience
  • How To: Creating A Streaming Channel On Roku’s Platform
  • Programmatic Video Advertising Goes Premium
  • From the Classroom to the Athletic Fields: Streaming In Educational Institutions
  • Hands-On With Streaming Devices and OTT Platforms
  • How To: Building a Video Player
  • Best Practices For Adding Redundancy To Live Encoding & Delivery
  • Using Media Optimization to Reduce Data Rates and Bandwidth Costs
  • Business Strategies to Break Out of the OTT Crowd
  • Developing Universal Windows Applications for Xbox and Beyond
  • Replacing Flash: Adaptive Streaming and DRM in HTML5
  • How To: Selecting The Right Video Management Technology
  • Video Management Technology’s Role in Delivering Optimal User Experiences
  • Best Practices For Live Streaming Production
  • The Future Of Branded Content
  • How To: Producing and Distributing HEVC
  • The Transformation of News Reporting Using Digital Video
  • Integrating Streaming, Video Conferencing, and Unified Communications Solutions
  • The Future of Video in a Multi-Screen World

Volar Video Selling Stream Stitching & Video Platform Assets

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 10.41.55 AMLexington Kentucky based Volar Video is selling its streaming software and platform that handled over 13,000 live streams and over 2 million viewers over the past six months. The company has asked me to make it public that they are now considering all strategic alternatives, including an asset sale, acqui-hire, or selling a majority stake. You can download an overview of Volar’s platform and technology to get more details on what they have to offer.

Volar’s major clients are primarily in the live sports vertical and include the Mountain West Conference and many other NCAA Division I, II, and III colleges and universities. Volar has also recently worked with Root Sports, Fox Sports Midwest, Time Warner Oceania, as well as Silver Chalice and Encompass Media. Volar was one of the first to figure out stream stitching when they demoed their mid-roll ad solution to me years ago. Volar’s platform functionality includes:

  • a cloud-base live streaming and VOD platform
  • VAST compliant mid-roll ad insertion that works on desktop, mobile SDKs and iOS mobile web
  • advanced multi-party ad inventory management functionality
  • streaming software for Mac and PC
  • real time analytics, SDKs and APIs

Volar has ten engineers that have worked together for two years building the software and platform. Anyone interested in talking to the company can email me and I’ll be happy to make an introduction.

FCC’s Proposed Internet Rules Changes Little, No Real Impact On Interconnection or Choice

FCC Chairman Wheeler released a fact sheet today that outlined the new rules he is proposing for the Internet, which falls far short of solving the main complaints we’ve heard about in the market for so long. Many think it’s a big win for consumers that the proposed laws will prohibit ISPs from blocking, throttling, or prioritization content on their network, yet to date, no ISP has been accused of doing this. It’s nice that these restrictions might be a law going forward, but it doesn’t do anything to address the complaints of what takes place outside the last mile, or all the debate around consumers wanting more choices for broadband services.

In fairness, we haven’t seen the full proposal or all the details, but the fact is, that one of the biggest complaints we read about is that consumers want more choice when it comes to Internet service providers. The proposed rules won’t require any last-mile unbundling, so those that think the rules will foster more ISP services will be sadly mistaken. Think of how many times we read about consumers contending with local monopolies for their broadband Internet service and want more choice. Isn’t that the number one complaint by consumers? These new rules do nothing to address that. Not that I think they should, but this proposal doesn’t unbundle the last-mile and doesn’t regulate rates. So for those that call this a “win” for consumers, I don’t see it. There will be no new competition. The proposed new rules also allow ISPs to do “reasonable network management”, so those that wanted that off the table, won’t be happy either.

When it comes to the topic of interconnection taking place outside of the last mile, which so far Netflix has been the only content owner to complain about, the proposed new rules won’t actually govern them. The little bit of language we have on the topic, so far, says that the “Commission would have authority to hear complaints and take appropriate enforcement action if necessary, if it determines the interconnection activities of ISPs are not just and reasonable.” That’s not a law. It’s simply a way for the FCC to hear any gripes and then try to figure out what to do with them. How does the FCC plan to define “just and reasonable”? Traditionally, “just and reasonable” is defined by reference to the “cost” of providing the service. As a practical matter, this has been accomplished through the use of tariffs and investigations into tariffs. I couldn’t find any prior case where the FCC has assessed whether a non-tariffed rate is just and reasonable.

Who or what will be the authority on what “just and reasonable” market rates are? Will these rates be compared to pricing from transit providers, third-party CDN providers or some other form of alternate distribution? And will the decision only be on cost, or on the quality of service? I find it interesting that so far, in this whole net neutrality debate, people are arguing over capacity and speed, but never bring up quality of service. Capacity means nothing without performance and a good user experience. Also, while this may sound silly, the FCC is going to have to define what they classify as an interconnection. The language makes reference to the “interconnection activities of ISPs”, but what about those who aren’t ISPs? If people truly want an “open Internet” and transparency, it’s not fair that Cogent can secretly prioritize packets and impact the consumer experience, but doesn’t fall under the same rules.

One article I read today said, “without specific rules, ISPs would be tempted to ban, slow down or seek payment from content providers.” Why would they be tempted to do that? They don’t get paid a lot of money from interconnect deals, just look at the revenue numbers Comcast made public. ($40M-$60M in 2013) And by law, Comcast already isn’t allowed to block or throttle content due to their purchase of NBC. So for all the people acting like we have all kinds of blocking or throttling of content, by ISPs, we don’t have a single example of it being done.

Again, why not draft a proposal that deals with the actual complaints of consumers, instead of perceived issues that no consumers are actually dealing with. And before anyone says this is what Netflix has been complaining about, it isn’t. Netflix has never once accused Comcast or any other ISP of blocking or throttling their content, but rather a lack of wanting, and not getting for free, more capacity at interconnection points. Netflix’s CEO was quoted as saying, “it has no evidence or belief that its service is being throttled.” We need to stop using this term of “throttling” or implying that it’s happening to Netflix, or to anyone else, until someone makes that claim, and shows evidence of it happening. Implying it is taking place, only fuels the fire, and makes people debate non-facts, which does not help.

I read one post that said these proposed rules are a “big win for Netflix”, but in reality, that’s not the case. Netflix will have a hard time trying to convince the FCC that they are being mistreated when the interconnection deal they have with Comcast costs them less money than using transit providers and third-party CDNs, improves the video quality for consumers, and comes with an install SLA, packet loss SLA and latency SLA from Comcast. In Q2 of 2014 alone, Netflix paid third-party CDN provider Limelight Networks $5.4M, to deliver a small percentage of their overall traffic. Clearly if the FCC felt interconnect deals were a big enough problem, or that Netflix was truly getting treated unfairly, they would have proposed something much stronger than what is primarily a way to just “hear complaints.”

Another question I have from reading the proposed new rules is how the FCC is going to reclassify mobile broadband, when we have clear language protecting mobile broadband from Title II. I also can’t tell from the proposal if the FCC plans to reclassify retail broadband service only, or those services they provide to edge providers as well. The bottom line is that this outline we have seen today doesn’t really addresses the issues and leaves us with a lot of unanswered questions. We need to see the full proposal to know the details and see the language that will be used, but this is just another step along the way of what is going to continue to be a very long debate on the topic of net neutrality. It brings no real clarity to the debate, still has to be voted on, pass any legal hurdles and be put into practice. That’s not happening anytime soon.

One final thought, it says these new laws are intended to let consumers “access the legal content and applications that they choose online, without interference from their broadband network provider.” That’s funny considering my broadband provider is never what prevents me from accessing content. It’s always the combination of the device, the OS platform and the closed and highly controlled ecosystem that run on these devices.