MLB.com Now Using Level 3’s CDN For Video Delivery, Akamai No Longer Sole CDN
Over the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of trace routes to see where video is being delivered from some of today's largest M&E customers. While tracing content from MLB.com, I noticed that Level 3 is showing up more often than in the past and yesterday, on Level 3's earnings call, the company stated that MLB.com now uses Level 3's CDN for video delivery.
While Level 3 has been a network and co-lo partner to MLB.com for some time, MLB.com was not using Level 3's CDN until recently. MLB.com would not give out details on the current split of traffic between Akamai and Level 3, but a person I spoke to at MLB.com made it clear that the business driver behind using Level 3 was due to the need to provide the best performance possible for end-users and that MLB.com moving some traffic to Level 3 was not due to price.
The announcement of the new customer win by Level 3 comes at an interesting time as Akamai reported during their earnings call last week that the rate of traffic growth on their network from media and entertainment customers had "moderated", but that it was not due to them losing business or wallet share in the market. At the same time, Level 3 said traffic growth on their network was accelerating at a faster rate than at this time last year. Basically, Level 3 is seeing the exact opposite of what Akamai is seeing.
Clearly Akamai is losing some share of their M&E traffic to companies like Level 3 and while MLB.com was the only customer that Level 3 mentioned by name during their earnings call, trace routes I've done from other content sites shows Level 3 as a new CDN in the mix. Do trace routes for videos from Facebook and see where those are coming from. The evidence that Level 3 is winning more business is clearly out there and that means the share has to be coming at the expense of another CDN.
Based on my estimates it looks as if 25-30% of MLB.com's traffic is now going over Level 3's CDN and I expect that to grow to a higher percentage over time. And if Level 3 does clear all of the regulatory hurdles in their planned acquisition of Global Crossing, Level 3's CDN network will only get stronger internationally. The bottom line is that Level 3's wins are coming at the expense of another CDN, or multiple CDNs.
Updated 9:27am: Someone pointed out to me that all of the small objects for Twitter are now being delivered from Level 3, in what looks to be the exclusive CDN. I don't know who Twitter was doing this with in the past, but maybe someone else knows more details.
Updated June 6th: Here is the press release announcing the deal.