Customers Tell Content Delivery Networks What They Want At Streaming Media East Session

One of the topics that I presented on at Streaming Media East was entitled "Costs for Outsourced Hosting And Video Delivery". (on-demand video here) It was a packed room, with over 150 attendees listening to what the going rates are today for video delivery via outsourced delivery networks for both large and small volume.

It’s a session I do every year and enables me to track the pricing from one presentation to another each year. It also gives everyone an opportunity to hear from the customers in the room on what problems they are having and also what they think the vendors need to improve on. The biggest disappointment to me was that of the nearly 10 delivery networks that were exhibiting at the show, hardly any of them showed up to this session to hear from their customers. I never understood why they miss that opportunity to get direct feedback.

The session went well, with a lot of questions and was very interactive with audience participation. Of all the questions and comments we discussed, the following are the ones that were asked about most often or were pain points that they are experiencing:

  • Why is it so hard to find out from a service provider what formats they support, from what geographic regions, for streaming and/or progressive downloads both live and on-demand? Case in point, someone brought up the example that all delivery networks websites show large network maps with lots of locations and peering connections but none of that tells the customer exactly what is supported, where and in what form.
  • Why don’t more networks give you an incentive to push more traffic on
    their networks instead of penalizing you when you do overages? I’m discouraged to see that as of late, some providers seem to be going back to the early years with their pricing models where they charge you a premium if you do more than you committed to. We know why the providers do this as they have to estimate how much capacity they themselves have to buy and plan for each month, but this is a broken model. You won’t keep a customer this way, especially when some of them are then using a second provider just so they don’t pay overages. That’s a horrible business model when your overage pricing model sends your customer to your competitor.
  • Why is online reporting still so poor? I asked for a show of hands in the room if anyone was satisfied with the reporting they are getting from their current service provider. Not a single hand went up in the room of over 150, the majority of which were all large and small content owners. And talking to specific customers after the session, nearly all of them complained about reporting with their current provider, of which they were all using multiple providers. So this is an industry wide problem and not specific to just one provider.

Those were the biggest points of frustration for customers along with why the pricing varies so much from one provider to another. But that’s something that has been and always will be case. The subject of P2P came up regarding the role that it may play in delivery but we didn’t dive too deep into that discussion since we had a specific session at the show on P2P they could go to. However, it was clear that more customers are looking at P2P and have a lot of questions around it.

The other thing they asked for was a list of service providers, both large and small, for which I pointed them to this list on my blog. The content delivery space is becoming more crowded for the first time in years which is a good thing as far as I am concerned as it helps the customers and more importantly, puts more exposure on the content delivery market and helps the industry as a whole.

UPDATE: As an update to my post from two weeks ago about the size of the CDN market, I have almost completed all of that data and will have it up on the blog shortly. I apologize for not being able to get to it faster but I have a lot of follow up items from the show last week.