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Executive Interview: Eric Black Discusses the Latest Business Models and Technical Challenges in The Sports Streaming Market

For my latest “Executive Interview” podcast, I sit down with Eric Black, who joins me for a discussion about the sports streaming market. We discuss licensing costs, bundling and packaging of sports content, user personalization, the impact of low/ultra-low latency streaming, and discuss the focus of his new job, as CTO and GM of Media for Edgio. You can listen to the podcast here.

AOM Members Detail the Latest on AV1 Commercial Readiness, at the NAB Show Streaming Summit

At the NAB Show Streaming Summit, hear directly from the internet, tech, and media companies that make up Alliance for Open Media member base on their adoption of AV1 in real-world implementations, the benefits of AV1, and the future of where the codec is heading. Anne Aaron from Netflix will moderate a session with David Ronca from Meta, Iole Moccagatta from Intel and Alex Liu from NETINT. Full session details are on the NAB Show website here.

Episode 54: YouTube TV Price Increase; Problems at Twitch; Apple TV+ Content Might Come to Theatres

Podcast Episode 54 is live! This week we discuss the recent price increase at YouTube TV which will now start at $73 a month, which in some cases, is only a few dollars cheaper than cable TV in a triple-play bundle. We also highlight some recent news from Apple including rumors they may be partnering with studios to put more titles in theaters; Paramount+ announcing it will offer mobile-only plans in Brazil and Mexico; a detailed report on the challenges Twitch is facing; and a notice of proposed rulemaking from the FTC it dubs “click to cancel,” requiring companies to make ending a subscription equivalently simple to signing up for one.

Companies and services mentioned: Apple TV+, Paramount+, YouTube TV, Twitch, Netflix, Microsoft, MLB, Fire TV, MLB, FTC.

Episode 53: Reviewing Netflix’s First Live Streaming Event; Disney’s CEO Discusses Pricing, Hulu and DTC Growth

Podcast Episode 53 is live! This week we review Netflix’s success with their first live event from both a video quality and user interface standpoint and discuss what live streaming means to Netflix’s business since most consumers are not going to regularly tune into Netflix on a scheduled time. We also highlight a lot of interesting comments made by Disney’s CEO around the pricing and bundling of Disney+, how they are “very carefully” studying the streaming business to decide what to do with Hulu and his thoughts on what growth for Disney’s DTC business looks like going forward.

Companies and services mentioned: Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, ESPN, HBO Max, Warner Bros. Discovery, TikTok.

Fireside Chat: Xumo’s Evolution from FAST to Streaming Platform, and Its Industry Impact

Last year, Comcast and Charter established Xumo, a joint venture driven to bring consumers nationwide a new way to enjoy streaming entertainment in the home. I’m excited to sit down with Colin Petrie-Norris at the NAB Show Streaming Summit for a fireside chat, as the company prepares to launch its first streaming devices later this year. You can see full details on the session here and still get a ticket to the event. #streamingsummit

Episode 52: Earnings Recap from Warner Bros. Discovery, fuboTV, DISH, Brightcove, Vimeo + Sports Streaming News

Podcast Episode 52 is live! This week we detail the numbers you need to know from the Q4/full-year earnings of Warner Bros. Discovery, Vimeo, fuboTV, Vizio, Brightcove, DISH and Altice. We highlight revenue growth, free cash flow, pay TV subs lost, streaming subs gained and ARPU. We also cover some of the news around sports streaming and OTT services from MSG+, RSN licensing, NFL Sunday Ticket and Indian Premier League cricket.

Companies and services mentioned: Netflix, HBO Max, fuboTV, Warner Bros. Discovery, MSG+, Brightcove, Vimeo, DISH, Altice, YouTube TV, Tubi, Tubular Labs and Chartbeat.

Executive Interview: Harmonic Discusses the Latest Challenges and Opportunities in Cloud Workflows

I’m pleased to announce the launch of a second podcast, called “Executive Interviews“. Each month I interview executives to get their thoughts on opportunities and challenges they are seeing in the streaming media space. For this episode, Gil Rudge, SVP, Video Products and Solutions at Harmonic joins me for a discussion about some of the latest deployment trends for cloud-based video workflows. (Listen here)

We discuss the lack of adoption of 4K; the complexity of live sporting events; the trade-off between on-prem versus the cloud; and the success Harmonic has shown in diversifying the company’s revenue from hardware to the cloud.

If your company has an executive they would like to be considered for the interviews series, please reach out to me.

I’m Organizing Video Engineering Topics at The StreamTV Show, June 12-14 in Denver

I’m excited to announce that in association with the Fierce Video team, I will be organizing and chairing content tied to video engineering topics at the StreamTV Show, June 12-14 in Denver.

Called the Video Engineering Summit, these set of sessions will focus on technical content for developers, engineers, and business stakeholders, tasked with building great video experiences at scale. These technical papers, presentations and case studies will highlight and showcase some of the best ways to ingest, encode, package, and deliver streaming media services across the OTT, broadcast, media, sports, and entertainment industries. All of this content is included as part of the StreamTV show, at no additional cost to attendees.

If you are interested in submitting a technical paper or presentation, please reach out to me via email: dan@danrayburn.com and check out the website for some of the topics I expect to cover. It will be about 1.5 days of content, across one track.

Episode 50: Key Takeaways from Disney Earnings; Sling Launches FAST Offering; Pay TV Isn’t Dead

Podcast Episode 50 is live! This week we breakdown all the numbers from Disney’s Q4 calendar 2022 earnings including subscriber losses with Disney+ (2.4M); Gains at Hulu (800K) and ESPN+ (600K); announcement of 7,000 layoffs; loss of $1.1B from DTC business; latest ARPU numbers; the re-org of Disney into three divisions and the CEO’s comments that Disney is not considering a spinoff of ESPN. We also discuss Sling’s newly launched FAST service called “Sling Stream” and discuss why pay TV will not be “dead” in three years like some executives are suggesting. Thanks to this week’s podcast sponsor, Agora.

Companies and services mentioned: Netflix, Disney, AMC Theaters, Sling, Amazon Prime Video, Yahoo, Zoom, ESPN, Hulu.

Live Streaming the Super Bowl Across 12 Devices and 6 Platforms

I’m testing the FOX Sports live stream of the Super Bowl (1080p HDR, upscaled to 4K) across 12 devices from 6 different platforms including multiple models of Apple TV’s, Roku’s, Fire TV’s, Macbook’s, iPad’s and smart TVs from Samsung, LG and Vizio. The platforms I’m streaming from include the FOX Sports website, FOX Sports app, Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling TV and fubo TV. More updates to come…

If you’re looking for streaming stats from the 2022 Super Bowl, (blog post testing stream) note that NBC said the 11.2 million number they gave out is a viewers-per-stream figure and is not directly comparable to previous years, when co-viewing was not as prevalent. The figure comparable to past years is the 6 million number NBC released for 2022, which marks a 5% increase over the 2021 Super Bowl of 5.7 million AMA (Average Minute Audience).

Updated Feb 13 – FOX Sports says Super Bowl LVII was the most-streamed Super Bowl in history, delivering an average of 7 million streams, up +18% over last year (vs. 6 million). But last year NBC measured it with the Average Minute Audience (AMA) metric and the FOX Sports release simply says “average”. (UPDATED: FOX says that’s 7M “simultaneous”) I’ve asked for clarity if they mean AMA. The Super Bowl LVII live streaming audience includes consumption across: com; the FOX Sports app; FOX.com; the FOX NOW app; NFL digital properties including the NFL mobile app, the NFL Fantasy mobile app, NFL.com, the NFL connected TV app and NFL+ for subscribers.

Updated Feb 13 – FOX Sports streaming peaked at about 30Tbps.

10:21pm – That’s a wrap. I’ll update this post with streaming viewer stats when FOX Sports pushes them out in the next few days. FOX Sports did a great job on the event. Other streaming services looked to be good overall, with the only exception being fubo TV that seemed to have some issues.

10:12pm – YouTube TV’s support team does a good job of pointing users to a page on their site that shows users how to share “stats for nerds” with the YouTube team when viewers are having a problem. More streaming services should have a page like this. Throughout the game, YouTube support said they were, “actively monitoring things and everything is quite stable,” and provided timely updates to questions on reddit.com/r/youtubetv

9:46pm – For all the support people at the streaming services who have to deal with consumers online, I feel for you. Between Amazon TNF, World Cup, Super Bowl, Olympics, Apple Friday Night Baseball, HBO Max soccer etc. I’ve read and scrolled through easily 10,000+ comments in the past 12-months during live events, just on Twitter alone. The amount of cursing and language used by many are vicious. And the vast majority of those that report problems, provide no details of their device, error message, error code, zip code etc. requiring more back and forth then should be required.

9:33pm – I see very few people reporting issues with the stream on Hulu, but they did acknowledge they were looking into reports of people having issues when trying to switch profiles, with Hulu tweeting, “It sounds like you may be experiencing a behavior we’re currently looking into. Rest assured, we’re all hands on deck.”

9:15pm – In the browser from the FOX Sports website their encoding bitrate ladder shows 7 streams, all HLS TS going over Fastly, but they are not the only CDN involved. Akamai, Edgio and Amazon are also in the mix. Also note, no upscaled 4K version is shown, which I assume is because this is being viewed in the browser:

  • https://foxvideo.global.ssl.fastly.net/1677117580_4a9b207714a9ec0e02a28ed11b82ca38b8c9960a/*~/haw/mcl-haw/stream_7_270p_30.m3u8
  • https://foxvideo.global.ssl.fastly.net/1677117580_4a9b207714a9ec0e02a28ed11b82ca38b8c9960a/*~/haw/mcl-haw/stream_6_360p_30.m3u8
  • https://foxvideo.global.ssl.fastly.net/1677117580_4a9b207714a9ec0e02a28ed11b82ca38b8c9960a/*~/haw/mcl-haw/stream_5_480p_30.m3u8
  • https://foxvideo.global.ssl.fastly.net/1677117580_4a9b207714a9ec0e02a28ed11b82ca38b8c9960a/*~/haw/mcl-haw/stream_4_540p_60.m3u8
  • https://foxvideo.global.ssl.fastly.net/1677117580_4a9b207714a9ec0e02a28ed11b82ca38b8c9960a/*~/haw/mcl-haw/stream_3_720p_60.m3u8
  • https://foxvideo.global.ssl.fastly.net/1677117580_4a9b207714a9ec0e02a28ed11b82ca38b8c9960a/*~/haw/mcl-haw/stream_2_720p_60.m3u8
  • https://foxvideo.global.ssl.fastly.net/1677117580_4a9b207714a9ec0e02a28ed11b82ca38b8c9960a/*~/haw/mcl-haw/stream_1_1080p_60.m3u8

9:02pm – I find it odd Sling TV continues to recommend the FOX News Channel to me when I log out/in, instead of showing the Super Bowl as the first choice. I get this in the app and in the browser. Their stream is currently about 55 seconds behind broadcast for me on Fire TV and desktop.

8:49pm – Still more issues being reported on fubo TV. Unknown now many are being impacted.

8:27pm – I’m seeing some slight audio delay from the FOX Sports app on Fire TV and Roku which I didn’t experience earlier. 1-2 seconds behind the video.

8:10pm – Looking at the manifest file for FOX Sports website I see 60 FPS and streams coming from Akamai and Fastly. That’s not to say more CDNs aren’t involved, those are just the two I am seeing. Not surprisingly, Nielsen and Conviva are collecting data.

8:00pm – Fubo TV looks to be having some issues with errors being reported by users on Twitter and down detector as of 7:12pm. Stream not loading, constant buffering or errors. Unknown how widespread it may be but I’d consider it to be too many complaints when compared to other services. Fubo seems to know about the issue as they keep replying to people on Twitter saying, “As a workaround, you can use your fuboTV credentials in the FOX NOW app to sign in and watch through there.”

7:50pm – Looking at all of the Twitter accounts online for all the streaming services, YouTube TV has the most complaints of picture quality, buffering and reports of the stream being minutes behind the broadcast for some users. However, note that YouTube TV has more subscribers, both free trial users and paid, than any other live linear streaming service. So one would expect to see more complaints overall, due to the size of their audience.

7:39pm – Sling has some angry users on Twitter complaining they paid to get the Super Bowl but it’s no where to be found. While Sling does have the Super Bowl as part of their Sling Blue or Orange + Blue package, it’s only available in certain markets.

7:29pm – Hulu users are reporting online that Hulu went to a commercial in the middle of the National Anthem. I wasn’t toggled over to Hulu at that time, but sounds like an ad triggering problem.

7:20pm – Across all services, I am getting less latency streaming from the FOX Sports app when compared to any other streaming service. Latency of 7-30 is the norm across service and devices. Note that I don’t think latency is a big deal and there is no business incentive to get it down to sub-seconds. Hulu has the worst latency for me of any streaming service so far.

7:11pm – Multiple users online are reporting issues with FOX Sports app no loading, amongst other issues, but nothing that looks like more than normal. Some users are always going to have issues and will need to update OS, update app or do a restart of the device.

7:02pm – I started testing the streams about an hour before the game started and so far, I don’t see any major issues across any service with excess buffering. I see some audio sync issues with the FOX Sports app on Roku and I see a handful of people on Twitter reporting the same issue.

Notes: For all of these devices and my testing, Verizon is my ISP. All Fire TV devices are connected via ethernet and all other devices are a combination of Wi-Fi and ethernet. All devices are running the most up to date OS and app versions.

Netflix’s New Account Sharing Rules Are a Mess With Confusing, Incomplete and Conflicting Information

Netflix has a major problem. Since rolling out their new account sharing rules in Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain, numerous problems with their policy have appeared. Customers have been left with a lack of details, confusing language, conflicting statements and instructions by Netflix support and a lack of transparency and clarity into how the new policy works. Over the past 48 hours, users are sharing their Netflix cancellation screens all over message boards and on social media.

Since the launch, I have spoken to more than a dozen friends in Canada, reviewed their accounts and chat logs with support and read through more than 1,000 comments on Twitter from consumers sharing issues they have encountered. I don’t say this lightly. Netflix has a very serious problem on their hands that needs fixing. If they roll out this new policy in the U.S. and other locations where they have the most subscribers, without making major changes, I think it will seriously hurt their subscriber numbers in a negative fashion.

The biggest problem Netflix has encountered is the poor job they have done in explaining to customers what has changed. Netflix is now enforcing that their service can only be used within a “single household”. Netflix has restricted their plan not based on who you are related to, but rather to a single address. As Netflix’s language states, “a Netflix account is for people who live in the same location.” While some might argue that Netflix has always said their plans were to be used by people living at the same location, that’s not how consumers think of it. In 2013, Netflix rolled out a new plan they called a “family” plan and while Netflix doesn’t use that term any more, that’s still how most of their customers think of being able to use Netflix, amongst family. Netflix may have changed their definition of a “household” a long time ago, but that definition has not changed in the eyes of consumers.

Some of the chat logs I have seen from Netflix support told users that if Netflix, “detects persistent use of a device outside of the primary account owner’s household, we may ask them to verify that device before it can be used to watch Netflix.” What is considered “persistent use” and what’s the methodology behind that? All I can find online is Netflix saying, “We use information such as IP addresses, device IDs, and account activity to determine whether a device signed into your account is connected to your primary location.” Netflix says that if you trigger this alert, you will have to sign into your account and verify the device based on a “verification code sent to the account owner email address”. Once you do verify the device, how long will the device work? Multiple users are reporting online that Netflix support has told them the device will be able to stream for 7-days and then will need re-verification. Online, I can’t find any mention of this.

If your kids are away at college, or deployed in the military, or you are charging your Tesla car at a Supercharger, based on Netflix’s language, these are use cases where you are no longer allowed to use the same Netflix account. Maybe you still can stream with your account, but the point is it’s unclear to consumers. When it comes to traveling Netflix says, “members can still easily watch Netflix on their personal devices or log into a new TV, like at a hotel or holiday rental,” but Netflix’s instructions online of how to do this are vague saying, “open the Netflix app on your mobile device(s) while connected to the Wi-Fi network at your primary location once a month and then when you arrive at the second location.” That might work for mobile devices, but what about a TV or device connected via ethernet at the second location? These instructions are found on the Netflix Canada FAQ page under the heading of “second home or frequent travel to the same location”, but what if it’s not the “same location” when traveling?

Adding to the confusion is language on Netflix’s site that says, “If you don’t watch Netflix on a TV or don’t have one, you do not need to set a primary location for your account.” Does that mean one can share their account with others outside of their primary location as long as Netflix is only being viewed on tablets and phones? Only a few days ago, on February 8th, Netflix tweeted out via their Netflix Canada account saying, “We know there’s been a lot of confusion about sharing Netflix,” and they provided a link to a short post on their website that lacks any details.

Starting on Saturday and now 24 hours later, going to Netflix’s FAQ page brings up a message that says, “We are currently experiencing a higher than normal wait time for support via phone and chat. Please try again later or check our online help center for answers to frequently asked questions.” It’s no wonder support is so busy.

Another issue that came to light is language on Netflix’s website stating that if you have two ISPs in your house, Netflix probably won’t work on both of them. Netflix’s Canada help page says, “If you have multiple Wi-Fi networks, we may only recognize one as your primary location. Devices connected to Wi-Fi networks that are using different ISP accounts or that have different external IP addresses may be blocked from watching Netflix.” If Netflix is using more than just IP addresses in their decisioning like they suggest, why would two ISPs be a problem? You could do a look up of both IPs and see they are at the same location.

There is also no explanation by Netflix of how devices will stream from within the same home, if they use ethernet to connect and not Wi-Fi. I have a TV in the basement where Wi-Fi doesn’t work, so it’s connected via ethernet. Based on Netflix’s language, the TV has to connect to Wi-Fi at least once every 31-days to be able to stream. Or maybe it doesn’t if it sees a similar IP on the device? In practicality, the TV connected to ethernet may work with no problems. But the point is, Netflix doesn’t address any of these questions anywhere online so consumers are making their own assumptions.

Another big question that Netflix doesn’t answer on their website or in any chat log I have seen to date is whether or not the account holder can change their primary location as often as they like. What do you do if you move? What if you rent a house for the summer and live at another location for a few months? What if you have a second home? Netflix says, “You can always update your primary location from a TV by connecting to your Wi-Fi,” but they don’t say how often you can do that. Will users have to do this every time they go on vacation and then change it back to their home addresses after each trip?

In response to a member of the military, Netflix support told them they would have to get a second account if they want to use Netflix in Canada as well as another country they might temporarily be stationed at, since Netflix’s new rules don’t allow you to add another person outside of your household in another country. Netflix is not taking into account people who work remotely for a living, traveling amongst different countries, which might be more people than ever in this new hybrid workforce. Netflix seems out of touch with how many in the world now work and the changes that have taken place since the pandemic.

In calendar year Q4 2022, Netflix had a Domestic (US and Canada) ARPU of $14.78, which doesn’t include any ad revenue. That means on average, for every user that cancels Netflix, they need two new people added to a Netflix account, at an average of $8 per user, just to make up for the user they lost. In my opinion, those seems like bad odds to take with the business.

Netflix knows that consumers gravitate to things that are easy to use. That’s been the hallmark of Netflix since the beginning. But with Netflix’s new account sharing rules, it is no longer convenient and consumers are confused. Netflix’s messing has been poor, its language vague and at times, conflicting. I can’t find any FAQ page on Netflix’s website that answers all of these questions on a single page. You have to click on multiple hyperlinked words, directing you to multiple pages to try and find more details. Online, some users are reporting they have cancelled their service simply due to the confusion and not having a clear understanding of how it all works, even if some of their assumptions are in fact wrong. Consumers don’t like uncertainty.

One would “assume” that Netflix is rolling this out in regions where they have fewer subscribers so they can learn from the experience and make changes for when they roll it out in the US, where they have the most subscribers. If this is not the case and Netflix rolls this out in the U.S., as is, they are going to see a volume of cancellations large enough to impact the numbers they give out to wall street, which we would see show up in calendar year 2023 Q2 earnings. I have no insight into how many consumers have already cancelled their accounts in the countries this has been rolled out in, or how many may have added a new user to their account, but as you can see online, this is a snowball rolling down hill.

Netflix should have made this simple by using simultaneous streams as the methodology to determine when you have to pay to add another user to your account. Customers would understand that metric and Netflix would not have to track IPs, devices, where a user was located or have users sign into Wi-Fi with devices every 31-days. If Netflix doesn’t backtrack on how they are rolling this out and realize how complex they have made it, their subscriber churn could get ugly.

Commercial Use Cases for GPAC: An Overview of Motion Spell’s Licensing Model

The deployment of GPAC open source software (OSS) across Netflix’s worldwide content operations was announced in November 2022 by Motion Spell SARL, a Paris-based media technology software and consulting company with a strong focus on R&D. Motion Spell is the exclusive commercial licensor of GPAC OSS.

As part of the deal, Motion Spell provided consulting expertise to Netflix’s R&D division. Netflix is not the only company to integrate GPAC OSS. Facebook also recently mentioned how they leveraged GPAC’s MP4Box to alleviate Instagram’s live video compute times by 94%. This choice prevented an upload capacity shortage within 12 months.

To get a deeper understanding of how GPAC is licensed, the use cases for commercial licensing, its value proposition for the streaming media industry, and how Motion Spell came to be the exclusive commercial licensor for the software, I spoke to Motion Spell‘s CEO Romain Bouqueau.

GPAC is a professional-grade multimedia open-source software and some consider it the leader in packaging and streaming. After 20 years of continuous development by the open source community, some suggest that GPAC OSS has commoditized the business of packaging. GPAC is now considered as a critical infrastructure component for video streaming services and today, GPAC is to packaging what FFmpeg is to encoding.

For packaging, GPAC is articulated around the ISO Base Media File Format (ISOBMFF), a technology developed at MPEG. The GPAC open source community has independently contributed to ISOBMFF and related technologies like fMP4, CMAF, DASH, or Common Encryption. Its efforts greatly contributed to the dominance of ISOBMFF, which is royalty-free (and has no relationship to the MPEG-LA patent-pool).

When a company licenses GPAC software they must either make themselves compliant with open source licensing rules, or, they have to request a commercial license from Motion Spell. Such a commercial license comes at a fraction of the price of building an equivalent product while keeping the flexibility of a custom software.

In a nutshell, open source software licenses enable anyone to use the software for free, but they have to respect certain requirements. Free software gives users the freedom to run, copy and change the software. When they distribute their own version of the software, modified or not, they then must provide their users with the same rights and publicly acknowledge its origins.

Some specific use cases include:

  • You don’t want to distribute GPAC source code as dictated by the LGPL. You don’t want to publicly acknowledge that you have used GPAC in any way. You do not want the name or accreditation to GPAC, or the GPAC filenames, to appear in your product.
  • You want to claim proprietary ownership over the code after you’ve modified it. You want to redistribute and charge for the modified software. You want to prohibit reverse-engineering of the modified software by third parties.
  • You want to do the above things, but you also need support, training or custom developments. For example, you need help to integrate or deploy GPAC into your operations. You use the GPAC libraries but you don’t know how to build your own GPAC executables.

Motion Spell’s CEO Romain Bouqueau says that Motion Spell was created to enable commercial licensing fees to be shared with the contributors. He said that over the course of its lifetime, $15M has been spent developing GPAC, so they needed funding to continue to sustain the software. Motion Spell is now inviting business users, who use the software extensively, to participate in the funding of this critical infrastructure, now that Motion Spell believes that packaging has become commoditized.

Motion Spell counts 100+ customers for GPAC including Netflix, Akamai, Fox, Cisco, Comcast, Ericsson and AWS Elemental. When joining the GPAC corporate community, Motion Spell makes it easy to access the necessary commercial licenses, plus support, training and custom developments for all kinds of commercial multi-media and video streaming use-cases.

Netflix and Motion Spell will present some of what they have done together at the NAB Show Streaming Summit, April 17-18 in Las Vegas.

Updated List Of Vendors Offering Stand-Alone Cloud Transcoding Services

There’s a lot of vendors in the market when it comes to transcoding video and many options to pick from based on requirements. Some vendors offer the ability to purchase stand-alone transcoding services that are cloud based with other vendors including the functionality as part of a much larger video platform solution. We also have vendors that sell software and hardware based transcoding products for on-prem deployments and others that specialize in certain types of transcoding for live and VOD deployments inside the firewall and within service provider networks. Like all products and services in the video ecosystem, specific customer requirements and the application use case for video dictate which solutions will work best.

Below I have I’ve updated my list of vendors that offer currently offer cloud-based transcoding services that can be purchased outside of a larger video platform. Some would call these stand-alone transcoding services. For instance, vendors like Haivision, Wowza, Deltatre, Vimeo, Amagi, Kaltura, ATEME, Endeavor Streaming, Zype and many others are not on the list as they offer a deeper video stack, of which transcoding is one element. They don’t sell cloud transcoding services by itself.

Over time I may add to this list and update it to include hardware-based encoding options along with those that offer a larger video workflow that has encoding inside of it. By my estimates, that would make the list close to 100 vendors and a bit unmanageable. So for this specific post, I am focusing on just cloud-base transcoding services that can be bought stand-alone. If you feel I’ve missed any vendors, (probably a few I forgot), you can email me and I’ll look at the request, but that doesn’t guarantee they will be added. They need to meet the criteria above.

Questions or comments? Please email me at any time.

Executive Interview: Vevo Discusses Their FAST Offering, Monetization, Engagement and User Experience

I’m pleased to announce the launch of a second podcast, called “Executive Interviews“. Each month I’ll interview executives to get their thoughts on opportunities and challenges they are seeing in the streaming media space. For the first episode, Kevin McGurn, President of Sales and Distribution for Vevo joined me for a discussion around Vevo’s FAST strategy. (Listen here)

Kevin discusses the success Vevo is seeing with regards to their content programming and how it changes per region; their monetization strategy with advertising; how they are getting such high engagement numbers; the importance of multi-platform distribution; and why the largest volume of their viewership happens on the large screen.

If your company has an executive they would like to be considered for the interviews series, please reach out to me.

Episode 48: The Key Takeaways From Netflix’s Earnings; Reviewing HBO Max’s First Sports Event; Content Deals by Viacom18 and NBCUniversal

Podcast Episode 48 is live! This week I highlight all the key numbers you need to know from Netflix’s earnings including subscriber numbers, free-cash-flow, paid sharing and projected numbers around AVOD revenue. I also give my review of HBO Max’s first live sporting event on the platform with the US women’s national team soccer match against New Zealand. Finally, I run through all the new sports licensing deals with NBCUniversal, (U.S. Soccer Federation), Viacom18 (Women’s Indian Premier League) and the rumors Apple will bid on the Premier League domestic television rights that come up for renewal in 2025.
 Thanks to this week’s podcast sponsor, Agora.

Companies and services mentioned: Netflix, HBO Max, Nielsen, JW Player, InPlayer, DAZN, Amazon Prime Video, NBCUniversal, Peacock TV, Viacom18, Apple, Sky Sports, BT Sport, Alphabet, Microsoft.

Episode 47: Super Bowl Won’t Stream in Native 4K; DAZN Discloses Sub Numbers; How Many FAST Channels Are Too Many?

Podcast Episode 47 is live! This week we highlight the price increases from fuboTV, DirecTV Stream and HBO Max’s ad-free plan, with many live linear plans now being more expensive than cable TV. We also discuss news from FOX Sports who said their NFL Playoffs/Super Bowl broadcast schedule will not be broadcast or streamed in native 4K, but rather will be captured and produced in 1080p HDR and upscaled to 4K. We breakdown the new subscriber numbers from DAZN and their announcement that it now has 15 million premium paying subscribers and highlight their financial numbers reported by the media. Finally, we debate how many FAST channels are considered too many with Samsung announcing their Samsung TV Plus service now has over 1,800 channels globally and more than 200 in the US alone. Thanks to this week’s podcast sponsor, Agora.

Companies and services mentioned: Netflix, HBO Max, fuboTV, DirecTV Stream, DAZN, Curiosity Stream, Samsung TV Plus, NBC Sports, Sunday Night Football, FOX Sports, BSD Crown, Amazon, Twitch, DirecTV.

Updated List Of CDN Vendors and History of All CDNs To Date

Over the past 18-months, we’ve seen a lot of changes in the CDN vendor landscape. Below is an updated list of vendors I am tracking in the market that offer commercial CDN services to deliver video for content owners as well as vendors that offer CDN platforms for deployment inside telecom networks or DIY CDN buildouts. (list is at: www.cdnlist.com) At the bottom of the post is the history of all the CDN vendors tied to video delivery, nearly 100 of them, dating back to 1994, along with what happened to the companies. For nearly 20 years I have been offering free help to any CDN customer who has questions on their CDN deployment including vendor selection, latest pricing, creating an RFP, CDN technologies etc. so feel free to reach out to me at dan@danrayburn.com if I can help.

With this vendor list comes a LOT of caveats which are important to note. The term “CDN” means many things to people and is an umbrella term that covers the delivery of a lot of different types of content. Not all commercial CDNs specialize in delivering the same type of content for small objects, large objects, streaming etc. and many CDNs offer a lot of other services in the cloud security, edge and application realm. Just because all the vendors are on this list together does NOT mean they can be compared apples-to-apples! Customers have to drill down into specific requirements around their performance needs, capacity, regions of delivery, SLA etc. and then use those metrics to compare which CDN vendors truly have a similar offering. Some CDNs target SMBs (small, medium businesses) where pricing could be as low as $100 a month and still other CDNs won’t even quote a customer under $5,000. There is no one-size-fits all and the differences between CDNs can vary widely, especially when it comes to capacity in specific geographic regions outside North America. PoPs on a map does not equal capacity or guarantee performance.

For my list, I am including CDN vendors who deliver video as part of their core services but not resellers, like a hosting provider that white-labels a CDN provider. I’m also not including “most” telcos and carriers that have their own CDN, what we call DIY, since the majority of them don’t resell it as a service and instead, use it to deliver content within their own network. There are more than 100 telcos, ISPs and carriers around the world that have a combination of their own CDN or a hybrid model that mixes in commercial CDNs, so there are simply too many of them to list.

I am not listing vendors by size of network, number of customers etc. but rather in alphabetical order. That said, if you strip out the vendors in China, the top 5 commercial CDNs globally, in order of revenue tied to CDN (note I didn’t say “video” revenue) would be 1. Akamai, 2. Amazon, 3. Edgio, 4. Lumen and 5. Fastly.

Every time I make this list, I get companies that say they are missing. If you think you should be listed, contact me at dan@danrayburn.com and I will review your company. But please note, if you have a website with no info, no details on the executives, no customers mentioned, dead links, have pricing at $10 a month and call yourself an “enterprise” solution, you won’t be added. I also don’t accept payment to add a company to the list.

Companies Offering Video CDN Delivery Services or Platforms

History Of CDN Vendors and What Happened to Them
In addition to the current CDN vendors in the market, I think it’s important to remember how the CDN industry got to where it is today. Many CDNs raised tons of money but didn’t have a business model; some only focused on selling at the lowest price and many had technology that simply didn’t work. The CDN market has been through a lot of hard times over the past 25 years and here’s a running list of what happened to all the vendors.

Open to corrections if you see any errors.

Episode 46: Industry Layoffs; Latest ARPU Data; Fragmented Video Advertising Metrics

Podcast Episode 46 is live! This week we highlight some of the layoffs across the industry (Vimeo, Amazon, Kaltura, Amdocs, JWP) and why getting to positive cash flow for vendors is and should be the number one goal in 2023. We also detail the latest ARPU numbers from OTT services and some TV news from CES, with Roku announcing the first-ever smart TV designed and built by Roku and a still unnamed partner. Finally, we discuss the extremely fragmented landscape for video advertising metrics, the news of Nielsen ONE and how every major media company has struck deals with measurement firms like VideoAmp, EDO, Comscore, and iSpot to replace or supplement Nielsen. Thanks to this week’s podcast sponsor, Agora.

Companies and services mentioned: Vimeo, Kaltura, JPW, Amazon, Netflix, Disney, Nielsen, Videoamp, Amdocs, Transmit Live, Warner Bros. Discovery, Roku, Samsung, Google TV, EDO, Comscore, iSpot.

BSD Crown, Formerly Emblaze, Is Suing Amazon and Twitch Over HTTP Live Streaming Patent

BSD Crown, the Israeli company, formerly known as Emblaze LTD., is suing Amazon and Twitch over a patent pertaining to HTTP based live video delivery. Emblaze sued Apple asking for $511 million in damages pertaining to HLS and lost their trial in 2014 with the jury ruling that Apple did not infringe on the patent. In 2010, Microsoft was also sued by Emblaze pertaining to “Smooth Streaming” and in 2015, Emblaze dropped the suit against Microsoft. In the case against Amazon, BSD claims that Amazon knew about their ‘473 patent by at least 2015 or sooner through Amazon’s own patent filings. While that is true, simply knowing about the patent doesn’t mean Amazon infringed on it.

In the suit, BSD Crown claims that their patent, “powered the first real time video broadcast over the internet using HTTP—the White House 1998 Easter Egg Roll”, which we all know to be false. There were other real time live broadcasts over the Internet that took place before 1998 that used HTTP. It also claims that “today, the technology described in the ’473 Patent powers the majority of live broadcasts.” That is also false.

Those that were in the streaming industry in the last 90’s might remember Emblaze Video and Emblaze Audio, which were the product names under Geo Interactive Media Group, which later changed their company name to Emblaze Systems Ltd., then to Emblaze Ltd and in 2014, renamed it again to B.S.D Crown Ltd.

In addition to the Video and Audio products the company also had a line of development tools called Emblaze Creator, Emblaze Hotspot, Emblaze Webcharge and Emblaze email. At the time, the company billed themselves as the world’s first Internet-specific multimedia authoring tool.

Geo Interactive Media Group Ltd was formed back in 1994 by a group of technicians from the high technology unit of the Israeli army and first previewed the Emblaze software back in February 1996. In 2014, Emblaze lawyers said they were not “patent trolls”, referencing annual revenues running to hundreds of millions of dollars in 2008. However, the company brought in just $1.9 million in revenue in 2013.

I’ve worked on a lot of cases over the years pertaining to streaming patents tied to Real, Microsoft, Burst Networks, Nokia, Move Networks and others. BSD Crown’s claim is quite the stretch.

CES TV News Round-Up From LG, Samsung, TCL, Roku, Google and Sony

Here’s a round-up of CES TV news from LG, Samsung, TCL, Roku, Google and Sony with pricing, if announced. The big trend at the show was larger screen sizes (93″-97”), QD-OLED, mini-LED and microLED tech. Not much was highlighted in the way of TV OS or content services.

  • LG: Announced upgraded Z3 (77” to 88”), G3 (55” to 97”) and C3 (42” to 83”) OLED evo series with higher brightness and color accuracy as well as amazing clarity and detail thanks to the new α9 AI Processor Gen6. G3 models get LG’s Brightness Booster Max technology and an upgrade leaving no visible gap when wall mounted. Their webOS will get a redesigned user interface to provide more options to customize the launcher based on different profiles. LG has done away with the A series and now considers the B3 series its entry-level OLED offering. LG press release.
  • TCL: Announced updated S-Series and the all-new Q Series. Q6 (50” to 75”), Q7 (55” to 85”), QM8 (65” to 98”). The new TCL 98-inch Class XL Collection Smart TV will be TCL’s first QD-OLED, retailing for $8,500. QD-OLED TV is a new type of display technology that merges quantum dots with an OLED panel for an ultra-thin screen that can produce all of blacks of OLED, along with better brightness and more accurate colors. TCL press release.
  • Samsung: Announced larger QD-OLED models, up to 77”. Neo QLED TVs will see at least two major new models in this category. The QN95C has been redesigned to house all of its connections inside the chassis of the TV itself, instead of within a backpack breakout box that the TV used. All of the 2023 Neo QLED models will benefit from the company’s new Auto HDR Remastering AI tech, which can analyze and apply HDR effects to SDR material in real-time, on a scene-by-scene basis. Samsung TV Plus, the free, ad-supported TV and on-demand service on Samsung’s smart TVs, now has over 1,800 channels globally. Samsung press release.
  • Roku: Announced the first-ever smart TV (Roku Select and Plus Series) designed and built by Roku (with a manufacturing partner they aren’t naming). Will be available in the U.S. in 11 models, ranging from 24” to 75”, beginning spring 2023. Retail prices ranging from $119 to $999 for HD and 4K models. Roku blog post.
  • Google: Android TV OS – the underlying platform for both the Google TV and Android TV experiences – now has 150M monthly active devices. Total isn’t just for Google TV devices or for Android TV devices, but all of them combined. Google blog post.
  • Sony: Decided to delay its TV-related news until later in 2023, no new models were announced or displayed at CES.