HD Streaming Push

Promises mass scale, DVR-line functionality for online video

By Glen Dickson — Broadcasting & Cable, 9/29/2009 4:18:34 PM EDT

Content delivery network (CDN) Akamai says it has developed a new streaming platform which can deliver high-definition online video to a number of playback formats and devices, including Adobe’s Flash technology, Microsoft’s Silverlight and the Apple iPhone, at a scale that will be meaningful to content providers.

The new “Akamai HD Network” will use the CDN’s collection of 50,000 servers scattered in 750 cities around the world to deliver content at what Akamai President and CEO Paul Sagan described as “primetime scale.” Sagan said that new platform will also allow online viewers to customize their experience, such as pausing and rewinding with a response times under a second, and timeshift between live and on-demand content.

“We can deliver interactive, DVR-like experiences with real-time analytics,” said Sagan, who introduced the new service in a live video Webcast Tuesday afternoon.

When Akamai began pushing HD video delivery three years ago, said Sagan, very few consumers were able to support the bitrates necessary for HD over their IP connections. But that has changed with improvements in both broadband speeds and compression technology.

“TV quality is now possible online at HD bit rates with clips encoded at 3.5 megabits per second,” said Sagan.

According to Akamai chief scientist Tom Leighton, some two-thirds of consumers that Akamai delivers content to have a broadband connection of at least 2 Mbps, while a quarter of the consumers it serves have connections of 5 Mbps or faster. That goes a long way to solving the traditional “last-mile problem” that plagued early online video, he said.

HD video still means more bits than SD video, however, and that means more cost for programmers to pump it through a CDN like Akamai. Leighton said that in developing the Akamai HD Network, the company had made a “large investment to minimize the cost impact,” but gave few details on how that related to customer pricing.

The Akamai HD Network provides HTTP adaptive bitrate streaming, which seamlessly adjusts to fluctuations in available bandwidth; an open, standards-based video player; and authentication for the Flash, Silverlight and iPhone environments to ensure that only authorized players can access content.

“We are excited to see Akamai’s commitment to HTTP adaptive streaming as the future of online video delivery, as we have worked closely over the past year to build a robust end-to-end media delivery platform with IIS Smooth Streaming and Silverlight,” said Steve Sklepowich, director for Silverlight at Microsoft, in a statement. “Together, we’ve proven that these true HD experiences can dramatically increase online viewing times for broadcasters.”

“Adobe works closely with Akamai to optimize Flash Media delivery on Akamai’s network for the benefit of our mutual customers,” added Jim Guerard, V.P. and GM of Dynamic Media for Adobe. “We’re pleased that customers who already leverage the Flash Platform as the number one video format online will now enjoy increased scalability and quality gains as a result of utilizing Akamai’s vast edge infrastructure via HTTP video streaming.”


Epix Bulks Up Online Movie Library to Rival Netflix

Epix Bulks Up Online Movie Library to Rival Netflix

Published: September 21, 2009

Epix, the new premium channel from Viacom, its Paramount Pictures unit, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Lionsgate, has upped its commitment to online content by promising to deliver 3,000 movies to subscribers through EpixHD.com.

Epix Megaplex, which will be a web option available to Epix’s distributors, will include many films which have never before been digitized, including selections of crime dramas, mob movies and musicals.

Epix Chief Digital Officer Emil Rensing contended in a phone interview last week that the collection will be the largest HD film library online, and that combining it with the company’s already announced selection of new releases would give the service a better online movie offering than anyone else, including Netflix. Netflix does have 17,000 titles, so we might have to ding him for hyperbole, but Rensing countered that Netflix inflates its library by counting every TV episode as an individual title.

All along, Epix has claimed its web component will match its TV channel, but Megaplex will in fact give web users access to far more than could ever be aired on TV. However, distributors may opt not to make Megaplex part of their Epix offering, and indeed the service’s sole announced distributor, Verizon, has not yet signed on to make Megaplex available for its FiOS customers, said Rensing.

Rensing said Megaplex would launch in the first quarter of 2010, and have at least 3,000 titles by the second quarter. The next step for the online service will be developing recommendations, collaborative filtering and other methods for parsing all the choices.

Updated: We erroneously called the Megaplex product “Multiplex” in an earlier version of this post.

Copyright 2009 GigaOm. All Rights Reserved.

Google Buyout Of Brightcove Is Talk Of The Town

by Gavin O’Malley, Yesterday, 2:54 PM function articleview(view) { if (view == ‘article’) { document.getElementById(‘article’).style.display=’inline’; document.getElementById(‘articlelink’).className=’pubtabs selected default’; document.getElementById(‘comments’).style.display=’none’; document.getElementById(‘commentslink’).className=’pubtabs’; } else { document.getElementById(‘article’).style.display=’none’; document.getElementById(‘articlelink’).className=’pubtabs’; document.getElementById(‘comments’).style.display=’inline’; document.getElementById(‘commentslink’).className=’pubtabs selected default’; } } function hasCommentAnchor() { str=”#comments”; //alert(location.hash==str); if(location.hash==str) { //tabdropdown.init(“articlemenu”,1); articleview(‘comments’); } else tabdropdown.init(“articlemenu”,0); } window.onload = hasCommentAnchor;

The Twittersphere on Wednesday was buzzing with reports that Google is in talks to buy Web video startup Brightcove for $500 million to $700 million.

“Source with knowledge of deal tells me video service Brightcove is in talks with Google about a buyout in $500m to $700m range,” PBS MediaShift editor Mark Glaser tweeted on Wednesday afternoon.

“Brightcove deal for Google would give YouTube entree into paid video service with many traditional media co. clients,” Glaser added.

A Google spokesman said the company does comment on rumors and speculation. A Brightcove spokesman said the company had no comment on Wednesday.

Acquiring the Cambridge, Mass.-based company would give Google’s YouTube a firm footing in a critical area of Web video technology. Indeed, last year, a slew of top Web publishers turned their corporate video content management duties over to Brightcove, including Condé Nast, AOL, and The New York Times.

“Beyond the scaling ability and the uniform platform, we give publishers a more contextual video strategy,” Jeremy Allaire, chairman and CEO of Brightcove, recently told Online Media Daily.

The Nikkei recently quoted Google CEO Eric Schmidt as saying the search giant was poised to begin “seriously looking at acquisitions again.” Yet, according to the Japanese newspaper, Schmidt is considering smaller investments in venture-stage firms poised for growth, rather than mega deals.

Founded in 2004, the privately held Brightcove has raised an estimated $91 million in funding from a long list of investors, including Accel Partners, AOL, AllianceBernstein, Brookside Capital, General Catalyst Partners, Hearst, InterActiveCorp., The New York Times Co., and Maverick Capital.

Allaire said the company was now profitable and cash flow-positive. Despite that contention, all with all its client wins, Brightcove still had to cut 15% of its workforce — or 25 out of 172 employees — late last year.

Film Set for Mobile Phone Premiere

Sept 3, 2009

– Alex Palmer


NEW YORK Sally Potter’s film Rage will premiere on mobile phones when Babelgum offers one episode from the movie per day for seven days via its free mobile application for iPhone and iPod devices, beginning on Sept. 21.

The episodic mobile release will be available in the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany and Spain.

Rage tells the behind-the-scenes story of a New York fashion show through a series of interviews, as if shot by a schoolboy on his mobile phone over a seven-day period. The film, which features Simon Abkarian, Steve Buscemi, Lily Cole, Judi Dench, Eddie Izzard, Jude Law, John Leguizamo and Dianne Wiest, premiered at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival. Written and directed by Potter, it was produced by Christopher Sheppard and Andrew Fierberg.

In a statement, Potter, Sheppard and Fierberg said, “We always wanted to incorporate new-media platforms into our release strategy and to find a novel approach to bringing ‘Rage’ to both new and traditional film audiences. We are delighted to be working with Babelgum, who we see as a true partner in crafting an innovative distribution model.”

The mobile premiere will kick off a multiplatform, multiterritory release that includes the U.S. DVD release on Sept. 22 through Liberation Entertainment; an interactive satellite premiere in the U.K. on Sept. 24; the online release via Babelgum beginning Sept. 28; and the Adventure Pictures DVD release in the U.K. and Ireland on Sept. 28.

The red carpet event and Q&A following the Sept. 24 premiere at London’s BFI/Southbank will be broadcast online commercial-free on Justin.tv.

Nielsen Business Media