Announcing Call For Speakers for Streaming Summit at NAB Show: Business & Technology of OTT Video

I’m excited to announce the new website and call for speakers for the Streaming Summit, at NAB Show, April 8-9 in Las Vegas. The event is in the North Hall this year with 75 speakers over two days across 30 sessions in addition to 10 fireside chats with key executives in the OTT industry. The focus will be on the business and technology of OTT video and will cover both monetization topics and the video workflow via presentations and round-table panels.

Everything you need to know about packaging content, transcoding, media management, playback, analytics and so much more – all from industry leading experts. Learn how to capitalize on direct-to-consumer (DTC) offerings and hear how some of the largest companies in the world are monetizing their video library and building a brand relationship with their customers.

If you are interested in moderating or speaking, please see the website and reach out to me (917-523-4562) ASAP! Thanks to our first round of sponsors Google, Verizon Digital Media Services, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Qwilt and Haivision. #streamingsummit #NABShow

Conducting Survey On DRM Deployments for Video: Chance To Win Apple TV

I am conducting a quick anonymous multi-choice survey of CE manufacturers, Mobile Operators, Content Companies and MSOs on their use of DRM technologies and platforms. One respondent will be randomly chosen and will win an Apple TV.

Accenture, Your Webcast With Hotstar Wasn’t A “World Record”

Here we go again. It seems every year we have a few companies involved in a webcast that are quick to pat themselves on the back calling it a “world record”. The latest is Accenture, who is promoting the Hotstar cricket webcast in 2018 saying it, “established the world record for the highest observed concurrency on a streaming platform, at 10.3 million concurrent views.” Accenture is touting this statement via a case study they have done to highlight their Accenture Video Solutions platform. The problem with their statement is that it’s simply false. On May 20th, 2018, the League Of Legends final peaked at just over 24.5M simultaneous streams. And unlike Accenture’s lower number, the League Of Legends number was verified by a third-party company, ESC. Who was Accenture’s verified by? While the Hotstar webcast was big, calling it a “world record” on a “streaming platform” is simply wrong. It wasn’t and Accenture should know better to advertise it as such. If you really want to impress us Accenture, give us numbers about the quality of the stream, not just how many were connected to it.

Technical and Business Reasons Kept Low-Latency Streaming Out Of The Super Bowl

A thread was started on LinkedIn with some suggesting that CBS should have enabled low-latency streaming for the Super Bowl and that the stream should not have had a 20-40 second delay. There are so many wrong assumptions being made by people in the industry around low-latency streaming, from both a business and technical level. For starters, what value does CBS get, from a pure ROI standpoint, by reducing the latency of the Super Bowl stream? Do they sell more ads? No. Would more people initiate the stream? No. There is ALWAYS a cost vs. quality tradeoff that takes place with any streaming media service.

Netflix could make the quality of their videos better tomorrow by encoding them at 10Mbps. Why don’t they do it? Because there is no business benefit. The idea that CBS or anyone else should enable certain technology or features, just because they can, doesn’t make good business sense. Next up is the idea that delivering low-latency streaming at scale is easy or cheap to do. It’s not. Any major CDN that delivers live events with multi-million simultaneous streams will tell you it’s not easy to do at scale and many today can’t do it for large audiences. [see: Edge Computing Helps Scale Low-Latency Live Streaming, But Challenges Remain]

Not to mention, most CDNs charge more to deliver low-latency streaming, but broadcasters don’t want to pay more for it, expect in specific use cases. In a recent survey I did of over 100 broadcast and media customers, 80% of them said they wanted ultra-low latency functionality, but were not willing to pay more for it. Many expect the functionality to be part of a standard CDN delivery service, capable of supporting millions of simultaneous viewers. So to justify the extra cost, CBS or anyone else, needs to have a business reason to enable it.

Also, when it comes to latency, there are many places it can be introduced into the workflow, not just at the encoding and distribution points. So the idea that any one vendor can offer a solution that a company just “drops in” to their workflow isn’t accurate. The bottom line is that broadcasters streaming live events to millions at the same time have to make business decisions of what the end-user experience will look like. So no one should fault CBS or anyone else for not implementing low-latency or 4K or any other feature, unless they know what the company’s workflow is, what the limitations are by vendors, what the costs are to enable it, and what KPIs are being used to judge the success of the event.

Leaked Pricing Details Licensing Costs Per Channel For Live OTT Services

Recently, one of the major live OTT services shared with me their licensing costs broken out per channel. I agreed not to disclose which live platform this comes from and the pricing listed doesn’t mean this is what every live TV company pays or that the platform carries all of these specific channels. There are variations based on length of contract and number of subscribers. Most of the pricing listed is for 2 years, but some are 5 years. For this specific unnamed platform, ESPN pricing is 3 years. Also, a few of the content providers require an ad split, while others don’t. The costs are per subscriber, per month.

The channel pricing listed gives a good insight into one of the major costs of running a live OTT platform and when you add in the distribution costs, and all the technical pieces of the workflow, on top of the content costs, it’s not possible to run a profitable streaming live TV business. Even at scale, I don’t know of any live OTT service that isn’t losing money which is why all of the major services are owned by MVPDs, ISPs, or others that can afford to lose money on the service, since their offering is part of a bigger product ecosystem.

Some of the live TV platforms have told me they think that with the growth of their service they can push back on TV network licensing costs, or drop unwanted networks. But no MVPD to date has been able to do this, so I don’t see the streaming platforms having any better leverage. With content licensing costs rising, it’s the main reason why nearly all of the live streaming TV services raised the cost of their packages by $5 last year. Like it or not, live TV streaming is only going to get more expensive for consumers.