Sports Broadcasting and the Future of Video Online
As the founder and CTO of Zeugma Systems, Siegfried Luft, points out in an interesting article this week, the growth of unmanaged, data-heavy video on the Internet presents a major problem broadband service providers.
It's a trend that the head of the world's largest maker of computer networking gear - Cisco Systems Inc. CEO John Chambers - has been predicting for months, and one that's expected to push network capacity to the limits, even with advanced video compression technology.
Professional sports is emerging as one of major players in the online video space.
Consider that within the last week, reports emerged that the New York Yankees would become baseball's first team to have its games streamed live over the Internet within its home market (through Cablevision), and that an iPhone 3G application (which runs through WiFi) that's widely viewed as baseball's best now is adding live game streaming features.
Analysts say that video traffic over the Internet will grow at a rate of 28 percent annually, while some broadband service providers have suggested an even higher growth rate of 40 percent. Cisco recently suggested that video would represent 90 percent of all Internet traffic by 2013.
That may be challenging news for BSPs, but it's also good news for much of the IT and telecom industries, including an Anaheim, Calif.-based online video technology company that's developed a live streaming video platform.
This week, the director of sales and marketing at Monetize Media Inc., Brent Grablachoff - a guy who, like me, hails from what we call the "tri-state area" (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut) but now lives at works in sunny SoCal - contacted me about his company's offering, and it's both interesting and impressive.
It strikes me that there are two major things that this platform is designed to do: Help enterprising people create professional videos that can be uploaded quickly, and help them make money off of that work, whether it's through viewing, ad revenue or subscriptions or another form of membership.
The company's streaming solutions let users stream multiple live camera feeds while mixing in other media such as movies, images and sounds, minimizing annoying things (from a user's perspective) such as buffering delays.
And here's a peek into the future of this technology: The platform allows users to stream remotely using a mobile phone.
I had a chance to put some questions to Grablachoff (printed in full below), and discovered two things that jumped out at me. One is that he, like Chambers, wholeheartedly believes in the evolution of the Internet to a video-based space, and two is that the news about the Yankees' live streaming spurred an uptick in interest for his company's product.
Our exchange follows.
Michael Dinan: A lot of us read every day about how media outlets, such as newspapers, are struggling to find ways to make money off of content that's posted to the Web. Your product appears to be cloud-based. Exactly how does your product "monetize" video footage?
Brent Grablachoff: Yes, correct, we are utilizing cloud-computing and Tier 1 CDN partners. Many content owners are finding it difficult to monetize their Web sites, let alone their online video content. One of the easiest ways we help clients monetize their video content is through "paid premium online content" revenue streams. What I mean by that is, sports organizations can charge for access to their Friday night game of the week, tournaments, or playoff games.
Everyone wants to see the big game, but when championship games are played in other states it tends to limit the attendance. So with our platform you can stream live games to anyone with an Internet connection, with no geographic barrier. Using our online video platform, sports organizations can also increase their fan base, gain new viewership, promote merchandise, build a community around their league/team, partner with key sponsors, and also provide all the standard ad formats like in-stream video ads, pre-roll ads, banner advertisements, and overlay ads. In addition, we can integrate Web 2.0 features like chat, ratings, box scores, game summaries, and you can also tie in your play-by-play audio/radio broadcast with the video.
MD: How important to your business is the development of faster data rates on the Internet?
BG: Faster data rates and connection speeds will certainly make everyone happier! It's been amazing to see the evolution of the Internet over the past 10 years. I remember when I got my first IBM "Pentium" computer and it had a 28.8k modem, what a joke. The Internet has come a long way with broadband, DSL, cable, wireless N, and so on.
Implementing a faster connection speed will certainly help improve the online video experience for providers and end-users. However, we are already offering new technology to help combat the speed issue. Microsoft created "smooth streaming technology" and simply put, it allows the end user to watch a live broadcast or even on demand video with virtually no buffering, skipping, or delays in playback or streaming. We have successfully implemented "HD Streaming Technology" on our Tier 1 CDN networks and this will soon be rolled out to everyone. Here's an example of this technology at work: http://www.monetizemedia.com/HDdemo/Default.aspx
MD: We hear people like Cisco's John Chambers talk about the evolution of the Internet to a video-based space. What kinds of trends are you seeing, if any, from broadcasting professionals seeking your product?
BG: I believe that video will certainly dominate the Internet. If you look at the numbers and most analyst reports, it shows online video consumption is now greater than social media. When people search on Google or Bing, you now notice video taking higher precedent in search results. Video is great because it allows "visual learners" the ability to get the information they need without having to read through paragraphs of text. While I don't believe the text-based Web will become extinct, I do think that online video, particularly live video, will start taking priority on the Web and eventually become the standard. We agree with the views of John Chamber and our founder and chief executive officer, T.J. Modi, who said, "Online users today demand real-time Web and we're enabling it with live video."
MD: About what percent of Monetize Media's clients are sports organizations, as opposed to, say, governments, churches or corporations? Any big names there?
BG: Our current client portfolio consists of about 40 percent sports organizations. Many professional and amateur sports leagues are finding our platform quite useful for streaming live sports games and creating new revenue streams with the pay per view and subscription models we offer. Also we see several trainers and coaches showing interest in our platform to teach and instruct with how to videos as well as private sports instruction. With the rampantly increasing popularity and demand for live online video, we as a company are growing quite rapidly. In the past month alone, we've had a lot of interest from several football and baseball organizations looking to implement live streaming sports video. Ever since the New York Yankees announced they are offering live game broadcasts online, the interest for live streaming video has skyrocketed. Over the next few months we hope to capture some large "players" in the sports industry.
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