Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 Was a Breakout Year for Online Video: A Klessblog Year-End Review - Part 3

In 2010, as many predicted, the online video industry would mature with multiple screen delivery, TV Everywhere, the rise of OTT and set-top boxes, mobile video and business models for paid content. There were several high profile acquisitions and funding announcements, and fallen video companies, Joost and Veoh, got second leases on life. HTML5 and H.264 video became one of the hottest topics as the online video platform industry geared up for the April 2010 launch of the iPad.

In July, I was pleased to VidCompare as my first official blog sponsor. For those who read this blog from the website, you may have noticed the VidCompare widget in the right sidebar above the RSS feeds. VidCompare is a free interactive online comparison engine for business decision makers looking for an Online Video Platform (OVP) Provider. VidCompare was launched in September 2009 by Kris Drey and Alex Polonsky, to offer "unbiased, and vendor-neutral tools like user reviews, side-by-side comparisons, and detailed provider information."

Video and Social media is transforming the way companies communicate to its internal employees and to the public. Many organizations have changed their marketing and communications strategies and tactics by launching company Wikis and blogs, official Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, YouTube Channels, internal video contests, podcasts, and endless conversation channels. I spoke with Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications, to get his insight on health care Communications. Ragan said that social media does is create a conversation and offered advise to companies that say it's too hard to get into social media, don't know how to get started, or don't have the resources to produce a video to pick one thing, take your time and do it well. For example, start a company blog around an event or topic, write compelling content and people will get involved and join the conversation.

In the online video industry, more news of consolidation within the  market came with the announcement that Arizona-based content delivery network Limelight Networks Inc. had acquired online video platform Delve Networks for an undisclosed sum, but was estimated $10 million. The deal could be viewed as an example of the CDN industry blurring the lines between the online video publishing and content delivery markets. Online video platforms have gained a greater share of customers across the spectrum of major corporations and SMBs by offering scalable plans at affordable rates, extensible modules and content delivery solutions. Over the last few years, with the rise of the OVP market, CDNs have been viewed as more of a commodity that just delivers the data.

This theme of the value chain was carried on from a panel session I moderated earlier in the year at Streaming Media East 2010 on, Video Publishing Platforms and the Value They Bring to the Market. The session featured a diverse panel from the online video world, including Bismarck C Lepe of Ooyala; Krish Melon of Synaptic Digital, Ron Yekutiel of Kaltura and Jason Liebman of Howcast. Each speaker shared customer use cases that demonstrated how businesses are using online video, along with capabilities and new features available from their platforms.

Photo credit: Vidcompare
Ron Yekutiel pointed out that video is becoming an integrated portion to everything on the web, and companies any size need video tools for the variety of business, training, marketing and e-Commerce applications. The core components of a platform that are needed to publish video for online and mobile experiences include tools to upload, encoding, manage, syndicate, monetize and view analytics. Krish Menon spoke to the importance of businesses having delivery methods that best fit the communication need and that the key is to "create once and deploy many."

Bismarck Lepe also emphasized that video platforms make it easier for customers to build businesses with online video, and that it's not just about on-demand content but also live streaming. He noted that video platforms are on the forefront of the market and better understand the consumer's video viewing patterns, and are best suited to help businesses better innovate with video. Jason Liebman said that Howcast thinks more of the video end-to-end video life cycle, and uses data on what people are searching for and viewing to drive creative and business decisions.

Knowing who your audience is and what they want to watch are key to a successful video strategy, and to get more perspective on this topic I met with Erick Hachenburg, CEO of the online video entertainment site Metacafe. Hachenburg discussed how his company has shifted its business model to focus on showcasing premium content to target young entertainment enthusiasts. The online video market continues to grow and Metacafe sees this as a ripe opportunity to connect advertisers with the, "Entertainment Drivers," enthusiasts and influencers who drive entertainment decisions, define pop culture and determine breakout hits in the social media world. Metacafe has assembled an editorial team of movie experts, led by Mark Poggi, formerly of Netflix, and Steven Horn, formerly of Rotten Tomatoes, who was named Vice President of Programming responsible for managing Metacafe’s five premium entertainment studios of, Movies, Video Games, TV, Sports and Music. I caught up with Steven Horn later in the year to hear more about how Metacafe is using editors to program premium content packages.

Returning to industry news, we saw another OVP get acquired when Cisco announced its intent to acquire ExtendMedia Inc., to power its multi-screen delivery and "TV Everywhere" services.  While financial terms of the transaction are undisclosed, Streaming Media EVP, Dan Rayburn estimates the the deal at $80 million which is expected to be complete in the first half of Cisco's fiscal year 2011.

Over the last several years, Cisco has been building its video empire with a focus on video collaboration, content creation and management, with the purchase of the Pure Digital, makers of popular Flip Video Camera, and videoconferencing vendor Tandberg, who it competed with in the TelePresence market. Several years earlier, Cisco also acquired web conferencing platform WebEx, a desktop collaboration standard for many companies and core to Cisco's unified communications experience. There's also speculation that Cisco will expand into the booming virtual event platform its own product for managing large scale virtual events. Also, on the heels of Cisco's acquisition of Extend Media, a rumor that Cisco made an offer to acquire Skype before the Internet telephony company makes an IPO, which they just announced on August 9th. Skype though some news of its own by introducing 10-way video calls.

The video codec format war heated up as well, with the announcement by the MPEG LA, that it has freed up the license of the H.264 AVC (Advanced Video Coding) codec, and will not charge royalties for any content that is free to consumers. Many have speculated that the move by the MPEG LA was spurred on by Google's release of VP8 as an open source royalty free video codec, a new rival to H.264/AVC and potential replacement to the open source Theora. Ultimately, it's all not just about patents and licenses, there's a much bigger back story. While many big video websites, like YouTube and Vimeo, have rolled out their own HTML5 video players, publishers and consumers are held at bay by the big browser developers that can't agree which video codec to support in HTML5.

In viral video news, the summer of 2010 will be remembered by viral video hit, BED INTRUDER SONG!!!  by the The Gregory Brothers which spawned an Internet phenomenon. Both the song add the video became a remix anthem that has seen over 60 million views on YouTube to date, broke into the Billboard 100 and spurred covers of the video and song, merchandising, and a 50/50 split of the iTunes revenue between Antoine and Kelly Dodson and The Gregory Brothers —which consists of brothers: Michael, Andrew and Evan and Evan’s wife, Sarah.

The song, with its memorable lyrics, captured an angry Antoine Dodson directly addressing the camera warning viewers of the rapist that attacked his sister: "He's climbing in your windows, he's snatching your people up trying to rape them. So you need to hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband, cuz they're rapin' errbody out here.."

The NY Times called this phenomenon, "a rare case of a product of Web culture jumping the species barrier and becoming a pop hit. The Gregory Brothers are enjoying their rise to fame and continue to Auto-Tune the News and are working in a pilot for Comedy Central that should air sometime in 2011. Dodson admitted that he and his sister Kelly have benefited from the viral fame through what he called a "golden opportunity", and said they will be using the proceeds from the song to move to a safer neighborhood and to a foundation for juvenile diabetes, a condition which both Kelly and his mother have.

As summer ended, I started to gear up for the Online Video Platform Summit which returned for a second, this Time in L.A., November 2 - 3, 2010.  I was pleased to announce that I'd be working again with Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen, as co-chair of the event. I was also invited to join a SXSW 2011 Panelpicker Session - Beyond the Box Office: Distributing Your Film Online that was being organized by Malaika Mose (which unfortunately did not get selected) and I also was invited to be a judge for the newly created Strategic Video Awards, which will announce the winners in early 2011.

In consumers electronic news, Flip video fans around the world applauded Cisco's announcement that the New Flip UltraHD Finally Promises An External Microphone Input, Available in Early 2011 Through New FlipPort. One the big drawbacks of the Flip video camera has been the inability to capture good quality sound,  and many were disappointed with the release earlier in the year of the SlideHD, which didn't include an external microphone input jack. The long awaited ability to connect an external microphone to the wildly popular pocket video camera will be possible in only the new UltraHD 8GB model, through a new proprietary port called a "FlipPort" located on the bottom of the device, and will connect peripherals that are part of the new "Designed for Flip" accessory program. The microphone is designed by Blue Microphones and called Mikey for FLIP, and and will likely debut at CES 2011.

In a follow up interview form Streaming Media East, I caught up with with Jason Liebman, CEO and Co-founder of Howcast to learn more the instructional video market, and why Howcast thinks every company should look at themselves as a media company. The distribution and uses cases for video include: brand building campaigns, customer support and e-Commerce experiences, social media campaigns. Howcast is seeing an increased need for video for all these different use cases, and suggests that every company look at itself as a media company. Liebman advises brands to have a social media strategy to support the distribution of their content to all these destinations. Core to that strategy is having good content to engage your audience and create conversation around it.

More news of shuttering within the online video space when, "Twitter for Video" startup announced it would officially shuts down October 22. Co-founder Sol Lipman explained that 12seconds was in its twilight and had reached the end of its life cycle. 12seconds seemed to have followed a similar path as Seesmic, which also started up as a video community but re-engineered itself as a Twitter client developer. Rather than shutting down the site, Seesmic deemphasized the video conversations to a new domain which is still up and running.

In other news, the latest dance craze that swept the tech world was, "Do the CEO Shuffle" with two notable and high profile positions being filled yesterday at Skype and Twitter. Making the news again,  Cisco announced its TelePresence product for consumers called ūmi. TelePresence grew out of the videoconferencing industry, which has helped shape the way we communicate, by bridging the distance between the many miles that separate us. I feel fortunate to have worked for Bob Bodine, who was a great leader, mentor, and in my book, a videoconferencing legend

As October turned to November, I updated business cards for Online Video Publishing [dot] com, which I would be handing  out at Streaming Media West 2010 and the Online Video Platform Summit. I was also planning to conduct another series of interviews at the conference like I did at Streaming Media East 2010. I also noted that for the online video platform industry, it was more serious business. According to a 2010 research report from Strategy Analytics, the OVP industry is an overcrowded space with numerous players competing in a still nascent market, yet it soared past $200 million a year. The report, "Online Video Platforms: Battling for Supremacy in a Fiercely Competitive Market," predicts continued rapid growth and consolidation in this sector, which could potentially reach more than $1 billion by 2015.

Different OVPs offer different features and target different types of content and customers. With more than 80 online video platforms to choose from, the Online Video Platform Summit programmed a series of sessions packed with experts speakers to help attendees better understand the OVP market and use cases for video, including: How to Choose the Right Online Video Platform for Your BusinessBut What About the Content? Curation, Aggregation, and CreationIf You Publish It, Will They Come?New Strategies for Marketing and E-CommerceThe New Video Landscape: Multi-platform Distribution, Monetization, and FragmentationDelivering Content to Mobile DevicesOnline Video by the Numbers: Analytics, Reporting, and Metrics.

Following Streaming Media West and the Online Video Platform Summit, I made it to GigOm's NewTeeVee Live event in San Francisco, on November 10. Last year, I moderated an analytics panel at NewTeeVee Live, and this year I went as a member of the press to cover the event. November has always been a big month in the conference circuit, and over the past several years, it has also turned into a big month for the online video industry. With major conference events like Streaming Media West, with the Online Video Platform Summit, and NewTeeVee Live, all taking place within the first two weeks of the month, these annual events have really put the "OV" in November.

I spoke with a wide variety of people from the online video industry as well as online video platform customers, and I want to thank everyone who took the time to talk with me, to share their industry perspectives, insights and innovations. Also, thanks again to my friend Mark Robertson, and also to Grant Crowell, who assisted me on some of the videos with lighting, audio and interviews for ReelSEOSee this post for a list of the people I interviewed, or stay tuned to this blog. I actually was the subject of an interview myself and talked about how in a hospital, video is second class data.

As 2010 started to wind down, I caught up with Steven Horn, Metacafe's VP of Programming, to hear more about how Metacafe's editorial voice drives the consumption of online video and the power of premium content. According to Horn, his editors make better programmers than machine driven algorithms, because editors know what readers want. Horn also believes that there's a certain craft to programming and that Metacafe's approach provides greater value to consumers and to content creators.

I also spoke with David Burch, Marketing Director of Tubemogul to get some video marketing tips and an update on video industry trends. Online video audiences continue to grow, with more and more people are watching more video across the board. According to Tubemogul research, people are more likely to click on a link if it's a video and on average audiences clicking on video links from Twitter watch a video 36.91% longer than viewers referred by Facebook and 49.98% longer than viewers referred by Digg. In addition, Brightcove and Tubemogul's Online Video & Media Industry Quarterly Research Report, found that online video discovery is shifting from search to social media. Twitter and Facebook attract more engaged viewers than other sites and are growing faster than search engines, and while Google search is still king, social media marketing gaining ground fast.

In an interview from earlier in the year, online video pioneer Jeroen "JW" Wijering described how HTML5 Video Is Not Quite There Yet. According to JW, there's a lot of video tag euphoria within today's tech industry and the practical side of HTML5 video development has been overlooked and faces a major threat.

In my last few posts from 2010, I started to my interviews from the Online Video Platform Summit, which included Jeremy Allaire, Chairman and CEO of Brightcove, to hear his strategy on how to reach viewers in increasingly complex and fragmented video landscape. Allaire was the keynote speaker at the OVP Summit, and in his talk and he said that, "Everyone is an online video publisher," and that online video platforms have emerged as critical partners to publishers by creating solutions that help them navigate the complex and fragmented online video landscape. I also spoke with Peter Himmelman, independent singer/songwriter, to talk about how online video is key to the music industry's survival.

Finally, after much waiting and anticipation and in the waning moments of 2010, Skype makes our dreams come true with Skype for iPhone 3.0, Video Chat Now Available! Mobile video has been considered one of the biggest trends that will explode in 2011, and now Skype's impending dominance of the two-way video chat market is apparent. With its global and mainstream reach of approximately 25 million people signed into Skype at any given time, along with its recent integration with Facebook, Skype has become the biggest disruptor of the live video space.

Photo credit: Vidcompare
So, we close the book on 2010 but we are still in the beginning stages of a seismic change in how we create, manage, publish and consume video content. The online video industry is still a nascent space, but continues to mature. Business models are constantly being developed and tested, next-generation media companies are expanding their reach across the web and mobile devices, and online video is showing promise as a replacement for the traditional television and cable industry. For businesses and organizations of all sizes, video has become an integral platform for communications, marketing, PR and education. I'm looking forward to what's in store in for 2011.

Again, my thanks to everyone and all the best to you in the new year.

Updated: 1/3/2011, 1/4/20111