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Telecom Operator Orange Launches Commercial CDN in France, With 5 Tbps Capacity

Orange has launched a new commercial CDN offering in France and is now selling content delivery services for live and on-demand video, software downloads and dynamic content. In a briefing with the product team, the company tells me their underlying CDN software is from Gcore and that Orange has twelve POPs in France with a total CDN capacity of 5 Tbps, supporting both unicast and multicast delivery.

With all the POPs inside Orange’s network, the company sees their CDN offering as a “premium” service, with their value proposition being a guaranteed level of capacity on a network they own and operate. Their go-to-market strategy is to focus on customers who want a higher level of QoS in the country as opposed to competing on price or trying to undercut other CDNs to win business. The company also plans to be flexible on their pricing models offering flat per subscriber pricing for OTT services in addition to the standard per GB delivered and per Mbps sustained models.

Phase two of Orange’s CDN deployment will be rolling out in Africa and the Middle East with the company suggesting they could grow total capacity in France to 10 Tbps by the end of the year. As of now, the Orange website doesn’t have any product page or details about their new CDN offering but the company says they will have more details to share around the IBC show in September. With a total capacity today of 5 Tbps in France, Orange won’t be displacing any competitive CDNs but they could be looked at as another CDN option for large customers using a multi-CDN approach or for smaller customers who don’t need as much capacity.

Orange isn’t the first telecom operator or network carrier to offer commercial CDN services in a specific country as a regional offering. More than a dozen years ago, many telcos and carriers around the world were offering commercial CDN services by way of a LCDN (Licensed CDN) or MCDN (Managed CDN) approach. (see this post from 2017 for a list of telco and carrier based CDN deployments) Telcos as large as AT&T, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Korea Telecom and others were all in the commercial CDN business wanting to compete with the likes of Akamai and others.

In 2011, some carriers got together to discuss the idea of federating their services into one offering, via something they called the OCX (Operator Carrier Exchange), in an effort to bypass commercial CDNs. While on paper it seemed like a good idea, in reality, it didn’t make any sense from an operational standpoint and the idea never got off the ground. Most telcos and carriers shut down their own commercial CDN offerings a long time ago when they realized the market opportunity for CDNs services wasn’t as large as they thought and realized they could not compete with dedicated CDN providers. Many carriers re-purposed the CDNs they built to handle traffic from their own video services internally across their network and a large portion of carriers, like AT&T, started reselling Akamai. This is the model by which most telcos are operating today, reselling a third-party CDN platform or not offering CDN services of any kind commercially.

Twitter’s Platform Couldn’t Handle 600,000 Users for Audio Only Stream of Ron DeSantis

Last month, Ron DeSantis took to Twitter Spaces announcing he was running for President, via a live audio only stream. Not surprisingly, the Twitter platform had technical issues that impacted the event proving that Twitter is not a stable platform for large-scale broadcasting.

For nearly 30-minutes, Twitter couldn’t get the audio stream to work with about 600,000 users waiting for it to start. There was a host of issues reported by users including with the Twitter app on phones, with some users saying it only worked in a browser. When it did get underway, the stream peaked at 257,831 simultaneous users in David Sacks main space and when combined with Elon and DeSantis’ spaces, concurrent listeners peaked at “over half a million“, according to Twitter. Elon Musk suggested the technical problems were due to the fact that so many people showed up to listen to the stream and that they, “broke the internet”, which is laughable. Twitter didn’t break the Internet, it simply broke Twitter, without a lot of traffic, showcasing just how poorly their platform scales. Twitter also called it, “the largest-ever social media gathering”, and that the size of their audience was “staggering”, but neither of those are accurate.

David Sacks who moderated the audio event and has some sort of technical role with Elon Musk, tried downplaying the technical problems saying, “we got so many people here that we are kind of melting the servers, which is a good sign.” A good sign? If all it takes is 6000,000 users trying to listen to a low-bitrate audio stream on Twitter to “melt their servers”, it shows just how poorly the Twitter platform performs. A low-bitrate, audio only stream is as easy as it gets. Last week, Jio announced they hit 32 million simultaneous users for video, for IPL and I’ve learned the bitrate was around 1Mbps.

After the event, some current Twitter employees told me that there was no pre-planning for the event, no stress test done and no contingency plan in place if there were technical issues. None of this is surprising since Twitter laid off so many employees tied to their infrastructure and those responsible for their servers, cloud services, storage, etc. The decision to do a live audio only stream also makes you wonder why video wasn’t used? There is no better medium for storytelling than video, so I find it odd there was no video option. Post-event, Twitter said, “Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign announcement proved to be a tremendous success,” and Twitter is still spinning that narrative two weeks later.

Episode 59: Netflix’s Password Sharing Chaos; Max Rolls Out; Twitter Spaces Fails for the Ron DeSantis Live Stream

Podcast Episode 59 is live! This week we discuss the Netflix password sharing notifications that have started rolling out in 103 countries and territories and the challenges users are having in understanding how Netflix will enforce the rules and what exactly classifies as a violation. We also detail the roll out of Max, with less than .1% of HBO Max accounts having technical issues and highlight some new details from YouTube TV around NFL Sunday Ticket regarding simultaneous stream counts, multiview and video quality. We also breakdown the laughable comments by Elon Musk and others at Twitter who suggested they “broke the internet” and “melted their servers”, due to 600,000 users trying to stream live the audio of Ron DeSantis announcing his 2024 presidential bid on Twitter Spaces.

Companies and services mentioned: Netflix, Disney, Twitter, Max, YouTube TV, Warner Bros. Discovery, HBO Max, AOM, Beamr.

As Netflix Password Sharing Crackdown Starts in the US and Other Territories, It’s Unknown How Netflix Will Enforce The Rules and What Exactly Classifies as a Violation

Netflix announced that password sharing notifications started rolling out in the US, Europe, Asia, New Zealand, Australia, and Middle East (103 countries and territories total) for members of their standard and premium plans (without ads), but with some changes on how they have done it in other countries. As expected, an account is only allowed to be shared with individuals living in the same “household”. You can add another member for $7.99 a month per person (US) and the extra member (1 or 2 max depending on account type) must be activated in the same country where the account owner created their account.

But unlike the password sharing rollout in New Zealand, Canada, Portugal and Spain, I don’t see Netflix asking US users to set a “primary location” for their account. See my post on that roll out here: “Netflix’s New Account Sharing Rules Are a Mess With Confusing, Incomplete and Conflicting Information.

It’s unknown how Netflix plans to enforce the restriction of password sharing with members who don’t pay to add new users to their account. It is interesting to note they are not giving users a pop-up message telling them to set a physical default location, like they implemented for users in New Zealand, Canada, Portugal and Spain. In those regions, Netflix said that if they, “detect 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.” Netflix said that members that trigger this alert will have to sign into their account and verify the device based on a, “verification code sent to the account owner email address”. It’s not clear if that’s how they plan to enforce password sharing in these new locations, but I would expect to see some sort of verification required.

During Netflix’s Q1 2023 earnings results, the company briefly discussed their paid sharing policies, which went into effect in New Zealand, Canada, Portugal and Spain in February. Although the company acknowledged there was an initial cancel reaction in Canada and the other markets, they said that churn was quickly offset, but didn’t give out any numbers on churn or cancellations. It should also be noted that the new rules rolled out about six week before the end of Netflix’s Q1 2023 quarter, so not enough time had gone by for them to truly see what the short or long-term impact might be, good or bad on their business.

As of the writing of this post, I have not gotten my notification email from Netflix as of yet nor do I see many on Twitter talking about the changes. But it’s coming and there is going to be quite the backlash online. Short-term, Netflix will take a hit with some cancellations but long-term, it’s possible they make more money by cracking down on account sharing. It’s something wall street and everyone else in the industry will be closely watching over the next few quarters.

Episode 58: YouTube TV, Apple TV and Netflix Suffer Live Streaming Outages; Disney’s Earnings Numbers; Netflix’s AVOD News

Podcast Episode 58 is live! This week I discuss the technical issues that YouTube TV, Apple TV and Netflix all had in the past 30-days with a live event/stream on their platform. I also break down all the key numbers from Disney’s earnings including the 3.8 million sequential decline of Disney+ Hotstar subs, their comments that the price increase for Disney+ without ads had no meaningful negative impact on churn, and the latest non-news on ESPN going DTC. Also highlighted are comments from FOX’s CEO on why they don’t have a D2C sports offering and Netflix’s announcement that their ad-supported plan has nearly 5M monthly active users globally.

Companies and services mentioned: Netflix, Disney, ESPN, Hulu, Peacock, NFL, IPL, FOX, Apple TV, YouTube TV, MLS Season Pass.

YouTube TV, Apple TV and Netflix Suffer Live Streaming Outages due to the Complexity of the Streaming Video Stack

In the past 30-days, YouTube TV, Apple TV and Netflix all had technical issues with a live event/stream on their platform. On May 17th, technical issues marred the final minutes of YouTube TV’s stream of the Heat-Celtics NBA playoff game on TNT with users getting a looping ad for The Little Mermaid. Clearly YouTube TV had some issues on the DAI side with insertion and playback of the ad. YouTube TV was quick to acknowledge the issue on Twitter saying, “we’re aware of it & our team is working on a fix.” [Updated May 22] Some YouTube TV users are reporting online that they have received two weeks of the service for free, after contacting YouTube TV about the outage.

On April 15th, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+ went down, due to a problem across all of Apple’s cloud services, with some users reporting an outage of two hours. Neither MLS or Apple communicated the technical issue on their websites nor social media channels, which is 100% unacceptable. Pretending it doesn’t exist is a TERRIBLE strategy, especially when it’s a service consumers pay for. [UPDATED May 19] Apple tells me that it was up to the clubs to determine how to communicate the outage with fans, with some clubs contacting fans to say, “We apologize for the technical difficulties with your MLS Season Pass subscription this past Saturday. The issue was resolved as quickly as possible that night. We appreciate your patience and support of [xx club] and MLS.” That’s good, but it happened after the fact and the outage wasn’t acknowledged at all during the outage.

One day later, on April 16th, Netflix’s live stream of the ‘Love Is Blind’ reunion never got underway as Netflix had a technical issue. The company acknowledged the problem on Twitter, apologized, and decided to make the video available on-demand only. In Netflix’s Q1 2023 earnings call, the company addressed the outage saying:

  • We’re really sorry to have disappointed so many people. We didn’t meet the standard that we expect of ourselves to serve our members. And just to be clear, from a technical perspective, you know, we’ve got the infrastructure. We had just a bug that we introduced. Actually, when we implemented some changes to try and improve live streaming performance after the last live broadcast Chris Rock in March, we just didn’t see this bug in internal testing because it only became apparent once we put sort of multiple systems interacting with each other under the load of millions of people trying to watch Love is Blind. So, we hate it when these things happen, but we’ll learn from it and we’ll get better and we do have the fundamental infrastructure that we need.”

All of these outages and technical issues are a reality of the industry when the streaming video stack is as complex as it is. These outages and technical issues will never go away completely – ever. Anyone who thinks otherwise isn’t living in reality. Yes, all streaming platforms are doing everything they can to mitigate outages and technical issues as much as possible, but these aren’t cable TV platforms which have 100% control over the entire video stack end-to-end, including the hardware.

The media doesn’t seem to understand the core differences in the technology and infrastructure of cable TV versus delivering video over-the-top. Some of their suggestions on how to “fix” these issues show a complete lack of understanding of the basics of how streaming media technology works. All that aside, outages across OTT platforms for both live and on-demand content will never go away. Overall, OTT platforms continue to improve upon the user experience and will become more reliable, but with more users, (scale) and new business models (advertising), it brings more complexity and technical challenges- and that will only increase.

Episode 57: Q1 Earnings Recap: Brightcove’s Layoffs; Vimeo’s CEO Bonus; Latest Cord Cutting Numbers; Resumes and Job Hunting In Today’s Market

Podcast Episode 57 is live! This week we highlight the Q1 earnings news from Brightcove (will lay off 10% of company), Vimeo (CEO could get $800,000 bonus), Paramount (+ added 4.1M subs), Comcast (Peacock subs up 2M), Warner Bros. Discovery (expects DTC business to be profitable this year) and the latest cord cutting numbers with over 1M pay TV losses in Q1.

We also discuss problems we are seeing with many resumes and LinkedIn pages by those looking for new jobs in the industry. We share feedback on what you should be doing if you are looking for a new job and how you should be setting yourself up for success.

Episode 56: NAB Show Highlights, Earning Numbers from Roku, Netflix, Comcast and Amazon

Podcast Episode 56 is live! This week we highlight some of the news from the NAB Show and detail the technologies and business models we heard talked about the most. We also discuss the trends we saw at the show, vendor messaging, specific data shared from speakers and what impressed us. We also cover some numbers you need to know on cord cutting, P&L and ARRU from earnings related to Roku, Comcast (Peacock), Amazon, Verizon, Meta, Netflix and others.

Companies and services mentioned: Roku, Netflix, Amazon, Verizon, Peacock, HBO Max, Comcast, Brightcove, Harmonic, Haivision, Amagi, IMAX, Bitmovin.

New OTT Demo Area at the NAB Show: Get Hands-One With Dozens of Streaming Services

At the NAB Show, I’ll be curating a special area on the exhibit floor in the West Hall called the “OTT Demo Area“. These 5 pods will feature hardware from Amazon, Apple, Roku, Google, LG, TCL, Vizio and Samsung – all showcasing dozens of streaming services including: Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, Discovery+, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu+ Live TV, Sling TV, Netflix, Paramount+, Peacock TV, YouTube TV, Tubi, Pluto TV, ESPN+, Freevee, AMC+, fubo, DAZN and many others.

This area is part of the CONNECT Experiential Zone, in the West Hall. Come get hands-on with OTT services, during all 4-days of the NAB Show, for free! Link to area on show floor here.

AMD Announces New Video Processing Unit With the Goal of Enabling Interactive Video Services With Profitability

AMD has announced a new 5nm based ASIC based media acceleration solution, that’s being marketed as the Alveo MA35D, targeting video streaming applications that are highly personalized and interactive by nature, demanding low to ultra-low latency. This PCIe accelerator card is designed to enable up to 32 x 1080p60 transcode channels using the AV1 codec, while also supporting the H.264, and H.265 standards. AMD says the card can achieve a full 1080p60 ABR transcode at 1W for reduced power consumption and cooling.

The Alveo MA35D is targeting the rapid growth of what AMD calls “Second Generation” interactive media applications such as cloud gaming, live eCommerce, watch parties, sports betting, as well as ‘blended experiences’ that integrate many of these services at once. AMD says they anticipated the upcoming opportunity for these use cases several years ago and recognized the challenges in terms of infrastructure and operating costs to scale broadly. Their solution can achieve ultra-low latency transcodes—8ms at 4kp60—by offloading the video pipeline with hardware acceleration of decoding (AV1, H.26x, VP9), scaling, compositing, encoding (AV1, H.264, and HEVC), and additional pre- and post-processing functions.

With this new chip they’ve integrated AI processing enabling “Smart Streaming” to improve perceptual visual quality while simultaneously reducing bandwidth consumption per stream. During my discussions with Sean Gardner (Head of Strategy & Market Development) from AMD Video Acceleration group he stated that, “by creating an AI-enabled, intelligent video pipeline, customers will no longer be tied to the historical inefficient ‘configure for worst case scenario or Set & Forget’ approach when configuring and operating their video transcoding services. Now they will be able to adjust settings dynamically. While this new intelligent, dynamic processing will be able to demonstrate a 25% bandwidth reduction under certain conditions and content types, AI is not fool proof.”

It makes sense that this is why AMD has instantiated a VQ feedback loop. This VQ feedback loop integrates a hardened IP block that monitors in real-time, every frame coming out of the encoder, analyzing the dynamic changes being driven by the AI processing unit to ensure they are operating within the target QoE/QoS range set by the operator.  According to AMD what makes this significant is the fact that not only can they do this in real-time but at full density, providing the ability to transcode 32 channels of 1080p60 using AV1 and consuming 32W for this use case.

There is significant excitement in the industry around the development of video applications with new engagement and monetization models. AMD says it worked closely with leading providers to understand both their technical requirements and infrastructure challenges and tailored their new platform to meet the streaming density, performance, power-efficiency, and most importantly—cost-effectiveness—to scale these use cases. The 35W, HHHL PCIe card is priced at $1,595 USD MSRP, sampling to key customers today and will be in full production in Q3 of this year.

Indian Premier League (IPL) Opening Weekend Records 16 Million Simultaneous Streams, but also Reported QoE Issues

Viacom18 reported the opening weekend of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Jio Cinema had a simultaneous stream count of 16 million viewers. While the numbers are impressive, Jio Cinema also faced criticism from viewers for streaming quality issues. Users complained on social media for two consecutive days that the English commentary lost its audio feed. There were also reports of “buffering issues, sound problems, screening problems, brightness problems, and pixelated streams”. Some users also reported that the Jio Cinema app crashed during the opening encounter between the Chennai Super Kings and the Gujarat Titans.

Viacom18 isn’t disclosing the average bitrate or percentage of users that were on mobile but the company did say that viewers spent an average of 57 minutes per match. Without more details on the average bitrate, quality of the stream and breakdown on devices used for viewing, it’s hard to compare one live streaming event to another. But just based on the simultaneous stream count alone, it would put IPL opening weekend in the top ten largest streaming events of all time. But please see the caveats above since we don’t have more details from the company to compare the stream to other previous live events.

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.