BusinessWeek Article: “A Better Way to Stream TV?” Gets It Wrong

Arootz Video DeliveryI like BusinessWeek. It’s the one publication I always make time to read no matter how many start to stack up on my desk. But an article from last week entitled “A Better Way to Stream TV?” features a profile about a Israeli based startup, Arootz, who says it can satisfy Web video demand using multicasting and cheap hard-drives.

By itself, not a bad topic to cover, but there are many places where the article never questions the hype clearly being fed to the author by the vendor. Why are so many people in the media falling for the idea that the web is breaking when it comes to video delivery? Four sentences in, the article starts with the hype saying, “The demands of streaming video over the Net are already starting to put a strain on both the infrastructure and the business models of the world’s Internet service providers (ISPs).” Really? Please give one example.

The article explains that Artooz says it has devised a solution that greatly increases the Net’s ability to deliver video without requiring substantial new infrastructure by multicasting and by using “off-the-shelf hard drives that can store vast amounts of data fast and cheap.” Apparently, the author thinks or was told by Artooz that, “The combination of the two represents a radical new approach to using the Net.” Wrong. Multicasting has been around for at least ten years and is anything but new. And using cheap hard drives to store videos, well that’s what everyone has been doing for years. Where is the radical approach? Store and forward models for video have been used for years.

The article goes on to say that, “The company figures that all of Israel could be served with just one server farm, while the U.S. could be covered with about 20.” More hype. 20 servers to cover how many users? Also says that, “Providers of Net-based TV services, such as Joost (which uses a P2P architecture) and Babelgum, are bound to be interested in what Arootz is up to”. Why? Multicasting has been around for so long now, that if multicasting was a reasonable option, more networks and ISPs would be multicast enabled, but they aren’t for many reasons.

What the article doesn’t say is how this technology is going to work to deliver content to someone who uses an ISP that is NOT multicast enabled. More questions than answers.