Streaming Media West is the only show that covers both the business of online video and the technology of streaming, downloading, Webcasting, Internet TV, IPTV, and mobile video. It does a great job of catering to corporate and consumer business, technology, and content issues in the enterprise, advertising, media and entertainment, broadcast, and education markets.
Streaming Media West was attended by more than 2,500 executives last year. Streaming Media West 2009 was larger than the past year, which is always encouraging news in a time when the economy is still pretty poor for many companies.
Some key presentations focused on new and exciting broadband enabled devices. Another milestone was a keynote session involving Microsoft, displaying 1080p streaming capability to the Xbox. The average consumer today can get about a 5.5Mbs broadband quality streamed into their homes; so broadband enabled devices such as Roku, Tivo, Blu-Ray players and Broadband-enabled TVs were very hot topics.
Of course, the Streaming Media show is also educationally driven; detailing how one creates, captures, consumes, transcodes, stores, manages, delivers and tracks media. Basically what is referred to as the video “ecosystem” is what the Streaming Media West conference is all about.
Perhaps the most profound sentiment about this ecosystem was that it did not seem to center around Quality Of Service (QOS). QOS used to be the thing everyone talked about: how to get the bits from point A to point B. At Streaming Media West, most were focused on how one can monetize, and more importantly track those bits. Monetization is obviously a huge piece of the puzzle, but companies need to determine how to track usage and data transfer in order to develop cohesive strategies as well.
Another topic of conversation at the conference was delivery platform sustainability. With so many platforms in the market, many agreed that there are too many to be sustainable. The forecast is that there will likely be compression in the market space, with major changes expected in the next 12-24 months. The emphasis of the Streaming Media West show seemed to be moving away from Content Delivery/Distribution Network companies that deliver the bits, and focusing more on the applications layer of the stack: that is to say all-in-one solutions offered by online video platforms. As always, reporting content consumer analytics continues to be one of the major talking points in this industry.
Another buzz term was “User Interface” or UI. Sustainability of a platform depends not only on how good the quality of the video is, but how intuitive the experience is around the video. What are the controls and functionality of the player; what can you do with that video? Can you embed it? Can you do full-screen? What types of syndication does it have? What type of viral video tools can you use to get the video out there with things like Twitter and Facebook and all those syndication elements?
Streaming media innovation comes from the users and the creators but initially it has to come from the content owners. The content owners have to provide a service that consumers want to actually use. It has to be simple, it has to be intuitive, and it has to be something that actually enthralls them; it can’t be just a static video that’s playing in a web page with no interactive elements.
The real adoption we’re seeing on the web today with video is a result of content owners realizing that they have to provide more content on the page than just the video player itself.
A very cool topic at the conference: HTTP streaming to the iPhone. Apple announced their approval for streaming video to the iPhone earlier in 2009. As a result, many software developers are rushing to create streaming media applications for the iPhone.
Streaming media service providers are also offering streaming services with the iPhone for their clients. As time goes on, we will likely see more and more smartphones, mobile devices, iPhones, etc., become more interactive with our day to day lives, to the point when we will all be able to talk to one another via video to video.
The tools to set up iPhone streaming and to deliver the stream to the end user are not that difficult to implement. Of course it will require some knowledge of streaming media technology, understanding how content is delivered over the internet, and how publishing your stream through a CDN or a streaming provider is done.
As a final note, the “falling” of bandwidth pricing within the ecosystem is another major issue. CDN’s, streaming providers and bandwidth wholesalers are strategically lowering their prices on streaming media delivery. That is good news for content owners such as churches and ministers who are delivering content all day long via their websites.
Last item of note for this article is media storage. Many CDN’s and streaming service providers are not charging for storage these days; it is usually a separate cost before your bandwidth pricing. However be alert, because some of the “BIG” players in the ecosystem still charge extra for storage. Make sure to do your due diligence and shop the competition before settling on a streaming service provider. In the meantime, we will continue to scout out information for you from great conferences and resources like the Streaming Media West Conference.