Sunday, January 15, 2012

Online Video in 2011: A Look Back - Part 4 (Conclusion)

I didn't plan to make this a four part series, but I guess 2011 was just one of those years that needed a little more attention. I think we would agree that it was an amazing year of progress, innovation along with many triumphs and failures. Either way you look at it, everything we did throughout the year moved us further along into the new year, and that brings about the new cycle, and the energy to put out new products, services and business models. When looking back on the 2011, what did we learn? What were the big stories and trends that caught on? It's pretty obvious that online video, mobile video, tablets, connected and smart devices, social media apps, video advertising and marketing were big, and of course, YouTube's domination of the online video market, will be even bigger in 2012.

And what will be the footnotes to remember online video in 2011?
Probably the biggest news of the year was the sad and untimely death of Steve Jobs. In an article on ReelSEO, I noted that Steve Jobs was a pioneer in bringing digital media to the masses with the launch of the Macintosh, which focused on making it easier to do create, curate and distribute our content. He helped grow video on the desktop from a postage stamp size video to a full HD video that can be produced entirely on a mobile device. Apple revolutionized the professional video editing industry and proved that thinking differently about how the computer could be designed – from the aesthetic design of the hardware and user interface, to the easy to use software tools – helped spawn a new generation of independent video producers that could compete with the Hollywood studios and big publishers.

Other notable news in 2011 focused on; more cord cutting, cloud computing, mobile video, numerous funding announcements, mergers and acquisitions and global online video spend was said to hit $3.5B in 2011. Ustream raised another $6M, Roku raised another $8M, Jivox raised $8.5M, Taboola raised $9M, Innovid raised $9.5M, YuMe raised $12M from Samsung, Thought Equity raised $25M, Qwilt raised $25M, Brightroll raised $30M, Tremor Video raised $37M, CNN bought Zite for approx $20M, 24/7 Real Media acquired Panache for undisclosed sum, Microsoft bought VideoSurf for $70M, Cisco bought BNI Video for $99M, Adobe bought Auditude for over $100M, Akamai bought Contenda for $268M, Google bought Admeld $400M and Motorola for $12.5B, Time Warner bought cable operator Insight for $3B and AT&T failed in its bid to acquire T-Mobile, Vudu came to the iPad, Hulu expanded to Japan and Netflix expanded into Latin America, Amazon experienced major network outages, AOL restructured again, Zediva shut down it's DVD streaming business, relaunched its buy-side service, Fox pulled its shows from the web, Ooyala won ESPN as a customer; got social with Facebook integration and raised an undisclosed funding round from Motorola Mobility, Vimeo got into the OVP business with Vimeo Pro, Brightcove filed for a $50 million IPO, MobiTV and Synacor each filed for a $75M IPO, KIT digital released its new social TV platform, Google+ Hangouts arrived in YouTube.

ReelSEO launched its weekly online video series The Reel Web, spun off Socialcam to simplify mobile video sharing, Apple pulled Final Cut Pro Studio out of the dead pool in response to Final Cut X's poor reception, Netflix and Starz went their separate ways, social TV and multi-screen experiences started to emerge, Hulu, Netflix and Yahoo! all got into the original web content business, foul-mouthed CEO Carol Bartz was ousted from Yahoo!, Zixi announced its cloud-based streaming service, Netflix's tried to break off its DVD business as Qwikster but backtracked after serious market uproar, WeVideo introduced its cloud-based video editing platform, SpotXchange announced full real-time bidding capability, Apple released the iPhone 4S, Verizon and Microsoft inked a deal to bring OTT content to the Xbox, Rimage acquired Qumu, Microsoft completed its $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype, Sesame Street's YouTube channel got hacked to show porn,  online video ads reached 50% of the U.S. population, Netflix's stock dropped 40% in one day after losing 800,000 subscribers and was downgraded by S&P.

Skytide introduced analytics for Federated CDNs, Amazon Kindle debuted to rave reviews, Livestream upgraded its platform to live events platform, YouTube took a swipe at cable by launching over 100 channels with celebrity partners, SeeSaw shut down, LG ad YuMe partnered on connected TV ad platform, teamed up with Roku on channel creation, Zencoder and Highwinds partnered on HTTP video streaming, Kaltura partnered with Gogo for online video in flight, Mixpo introduced Frameworks for interactive online video ads, Zediva was forced to shut down its DVD streaming service, the Boxee box got a live TV tuner, Adobe abandoned Flash on mobile and TV (see below), CDN pricing dropped 20%, tablets rose above desktops for 30% longer online video viewing, Netflix made up for past mistakes by resurrecting Arrested Development, MPEG DASH emerged as a possible online video standard, YouTube did major channel-centric redesign of the site, Dailymotion expanded its cloud video delivery service, Twitvid launched its new social video network, and finally for the first time the Super Bowl would be streamed live over the Internet.

While that wasn't all the big news of 2011, it's what caught my my attention and set the stage for 2012. So now, let's get back to what happened here at Klessblog...

In August, where I attended the 2011 Liveclicker Video Commerce Summit in San Francisco. I recorded a number of interviews with speakers at the two-day event for Liveclicker's blog. Andy Stack, YouTube Product Manager, outlined the 5 things he has learned about successful online video campaigns in his experience at YouTube. Kenna Hurd, Video Content & Product Manager of PETCO, talked about the top initiatives of PETCO’s video strategy, specific examples of where the company is seeing success with video. Melissa Salas, Marketing Director of and Co-host of BuyTV, shared some of the lessons she has learned about video commerce since she started hosting BuyTV in 2006. My good friend Mark Robertson, Founder and CEO of, gave his take on why retailers should explore beyond the product video. Justin Foster, Co-founder and VP of Market Development at Liveclicker, shared his thoughts on the emerging video commerce trends and predictions.

After that event, I followed up with a few posts of my own on this blog and on expanding on what Jen Fahey wrote on

Mark Robertson says online video is the swiss army knife of online marketing,  and social video can help eCommerce retailers move from conversions to conversations with their customers. In his keynote at the Video Commerce Summit Mark provided a high level overview of how social media has changed search, the state of V-Commerce and what tactics and tools eCommerce marketers can harness to move beyond product videos. Mark says that SEO has evolved over the last 10 years, and now social media engagement enhances SEO rankings, a lot. Universal video search is becoming less effective for e-commerce transactional queries, and that marketers’ must embrace social video throughout the customer life cycle and produce video that lends itself to social.

Online video is massive in its reach and scale with 6.9 billion videos watched in the U.S. in July and August of 2011, and has quickly grown into a major component of what people do online or how they consume information and entertainment. Andy Stack, Product Manager at YouTube says, online video is a valuable tool to drive brands, and is transforming the way consumers engage and conduct commerce. The use of online video in e-commerce is an opportunity you can’t afford to miss or not fully understand. His main message to the brands and retailers at the Liveclicker Video Summit, is to create content, not commercials. Stack says that it's important for retailers to develop a content strategy and not necessarily an advertising strategy, and sponsor content that matters to your community and spend money to promote content that's tested and works. As the world’s largest focus group, online video lets you know if the creative or videos that you are running on TV and elsewhere are making an impact when people choose to consume your brand and spread the word. Retailers can use video like a sand box to experiment and use the variety of tools available from YouTube to find the right mix, then rinse and repeat.

In October, I caught up with Marc Scarpa, veteran director and executive producer of live interactive media events, who had just launched the first of it's kind social TV network with Comcast Xfinity On Demand, called VidBlogger Nation, that brings popular local YouTube talent into the living room of millions. VidBlogger Nation is shot on location by local video bloggers in 10 key markets in the U.S. The episodes are short 3-5 minute narrative shorts by unique voices from across the country who share colorful stories of people, places and things in their city from a first-person perspective. Scarpa was in San Francisco where he met with several of his local VidBloggers, including Zennie Abraham (Zennie62), who joined Scarpa in the interview. See Zennie's article here: Comcast VidBlogger Nation New Video TV Network | City Brights: Zennie Abraham | an blog. Scarpa says that the overall goal of VidBlogger Nation is to have a new forum for very talented people, like Zennie and his fellow VidBloggers, who have a voice and help them extend beyond the web into a new market, and a traditional broadcast environment like Comcast provides access to 60 million homes.

That same week, I attended the TVNext Con 2011 conference in San Jose that brought together hundreds of media, technology and entertainment companies to explore the future of TV, video and multi-platform entertainment services and platforms. Experts agree that nearly every facet of the TV experience and TV business models will be impacted over the next 5 years. One of the main drivers is that more consumers are using IP devices to supplement linear TV viewing, and that by 2015 the average U.S. resident will have 7 connected devices. We're starting to see the decline of the stand-alone set top box with the rise of game consoles as the number one hub for digital entertainment and OTT content, and connected TVs and innovations just announced last week at CES like the Roku Streaming stick that makes a regular TV a smart TV. And don't forget Apple's highly anticipated iTV that is predicted to be the big game changer, due out later this year. We'll also continue to see big deals in the content industry as studios and networks create sustainable business models that don't cannibalize their existing services. I interviewed a handful of people at that event as well, including Joan FitzGerald, VP at comScore, Inc and Tim Street, VP of Mobile Video at mDialog, (to be featured soon on this blog), and Jim Louderback, CEO of Revision3 and Matt Smith, VP of Internet Television at Envivio, (see below).

I followed up with an interview with Suranga Chandratillake, CEO and Founder of blinkx, who I met earlier in the at OTTcon. Chandratillake founded blinkx in 2004 and has helped pioneer video search on the Internet. He describes blinkx as "the world's largest and most advanced video search engine" and unlike other search engines that focus on text web, titles and metadata, blinkx uses a unique combination of patented conceptual search, speech recognition and visual analysis to find and qualify online video. Chandratillake noted that the the online video and OTT space has come of age after so many years of video on the Internet. What's different, he says, is the momentum at which the idea is gaining. More and more of us are watching Internet video on our television sets or contemplating the purchase of a connected device to watch OTT video.

In November, I went to Streaming Media West in November to discuss Webcasting Tips and Tricks From the Enterprise, wearing my day job hat as a webcast producer for Kaiser Permanente, as I did years earlier when I first spoke at Streaming Media West. I shared some of the best practices that I had previously blogged about here, that address the technical and logistical challenges for webcasting, and how to put the right team and the right technology in place for a successful virtual event. The panel focused on best practices from enterprise corporations have adopted and implemented for live video across their organization.

With all the growth, it's also been stagnant, in regards to the ongoing video format wars, spurred on by Apple's exclusion of Flash on its popular iDevices and negative press it received from Steve Jobs' Thoughts on Flash. While HTML5 and H.264 encoded video have been gaining momentum as an emerging standard for online and mobile video, publishers have had to deal with the lack of a standardization, which has caused a great deal complexity and fragmentation. So we were all surprised with Adobe's  announcement that it would abandon future development of Flash Player for mobile devices following the next release 11.1, and will be more aggressively contribute to HTML5 innovation with key players, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and RIM. Adobe will continue to support its current Flash development. Adobe had developed Flash Player to run on Google's Android and other non-Apple mobile platforms, but its official statement from its blog post said,"HTML5 is the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms."

The news broke during Streaming Media West, and while Adobe was at the conference in full force, it was tight lipped about why it decided to withdraw Flash from the mobile market. I caught up with Jan Ozer, Video Producer, Writer, Publisher of and author of Video Compression for Flash, Apple Devices and HTML5to get his perspective on the implications of the announcement for the online video industry, mobile developers and consumers.

Ozer told me Adobe made this move for several reasons. 1) They were fighting against the current, at least with Apple, and then with Microsoft's recent announcement about their tablet oriented operating system, and couldn't fight this. 2) Adobe wasn't getting then support it needed from Google and other vendors to make Flash work effectively on mobile platforms. 3)  As computers get more powerful people are building applications that require more power and faster CPUs to run smoothly, and Flash-enabled tablets and phones simply don't have the power to run smoothly and deliver a quality experience. Ozer says, this doesn't mean that Flash on the desktop is going away anytime soon, and that it will actually create a tale of two websites, with a web version that is completely immersive Flash experience, and the other more simple and targeted for mobile devices.

It was more than a year ago when I met Merton, the Piano Chat Improv Guy and I finally published his interview in December. The improvisational piano player, became an Internet sensation when he first appeared on Chatroulette playing piano and serenading the strangers he'd meet on the video chat website. His videos have attracted over 25,000,000 views on YouTube and he has performed in London, MontrĂ©al. I caught up with him at NewTeeVee Live where he spoke about his experience as a web celebrity and how he planned to further develop and evolve his improvisational social and musical style. Merton says that he's played piano and done improvisational music for a long time, but Chatroulette gave him the mass exposure to freestyle in real-time with random strangers and become a viral video phenomenon. He now has a live, interactive, webcam show that airs weekly on Wednesdays at 10:00 PM ET called The Merton Show.

I caught up with Jim Louderback, CEO of Revision3, at the TV Next Con 2011 where he talked about the changing video landscape and the great unbundling of services. Louderback says that we're in the end game of the of the great unbundling of video services, as next generation television channels shift from traditional models to IPTV video networks. Louderback says that within the next few years most of the video we consume will be delivered over an open IP network, ending the long monopoly of proprietary services delivered through cable, satellite and broadcast streams. But even though our favorite shows will be delivered mostly on-demand, we'll still have bundles of services - but it will just be offered in new ways.

One of the biggest stories of 2011 is, what will the future of television look like as service providers, consumer electronics manufacturers and content aggregators all jockey for the prime position in your living room. According to Todd Weaver, CEO of ivi, OTT has been an emerging market for some time and that market has been stifled by a number of issues, and today, those issues primarily relate to content. I caught up Weaver earlier this year at OTT Con in San Jose to get his perspective on what the PayTV operator and online video experience will look like in the OTT era. Weaver says, one fear that content owners are grappling with is the "cannibalization" of their existing cable TV subscriptions with their Internet subscriptions. As more content moves online, Weaver says, content owners will to figure out the pricing models and OTT providers are going to have to either educate or cooperate with content owners to set and adjust prices to help settle out the disturbance in that area. Weaver's company, ivi, has been embroiled in a lawsuit with broadcasters seeking to stop it from rebroadcasting their content online. Earlier this year in February, a New York federal judge ruled that ivi was infringing on broadcasters copyrights by not paying retransmission fees and ordered ivi to shut down.

To round out my online video conversations for 2011, I caught up with veteran webcasting executive Nick Balletta, CEO of Talkpoint to talk about the latest enterprise video trends. He shared the latest real world data his company had collected over the last two years, that showed a significant growth in both the adoption and expansion of video within enterprise communications. A year earlier, I had spoke with Balletta at Streaming Media East, where he told me that webcasting for enterprise communications may finally be reaching a tipping point. Talkpoint supports some 15,000 annual webcasts and it's data shows that the number viewers is growing along with the number of individual webcasts. So, what's driving the growth? Balletta says, media players are now built into operating systems, broadband is pervasive, computers are faster and people are comfortable watching video on their computers, and overall, watching video online has gotten much easier to do than in the early days. A few anecdotes Balletta shared were, self-service video webcasting is on the rise, Flash viewership is on the rise, and the battle for video standards creates opportunity. Balletta also says that social media and enterprise webcasting don't mix. He says right now all the agencies are making money helping corporations with social media, but in a couple of years it's going be the lawyers cleaning up on the mess created by social media.

In my final online video conversation, I got an education in Adaptive Bit Rate (ABR) streaming 101 from Matt Smith, VP of Internet Television Strategy & Solutions at Envivio. As the demand to deliver content to consumers on multiple screens continues to grow at a rapid pace, companies adapt their methods and means to meet the demand consumers want for any content on any device, anytime and anywhere. This is both exciting and worrisome for service providers and content owners – but new trends and tactics like adaptive bit rate (ABR) streaming is changing it all and making it easier to deliver content. ABR streaming is a new and dynamic approach. Smith says that with ABR, you're essentially creating similar number of streams, but in a different part of the network. You get significant scale gains and you should plan to deliver to every possible screen. The workflow not for every organization and where channel count is low, "old" models work, but ABR is emerging as a new standard for content delivery.

This concludes my look back into online video in 2011. With 2012 now in full swing and a lot of news already in the making, I have no doubt that it will be another amazing year for the online video industry. I want to thank you all for your continued support, and my best to everyone in the new year!

Editor's note: This concludes Online Video in 2011: A Look Back. Stay tuned for more Online Video conversations in 2012.

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