Sunday, March 11, 2012

Online Video Consultants Say the Darndest Things

Trying to keep up with latest video workflows, video codecs, algorithms and the variety of delivery methods for multiple screens can be a daunting task for anyone. Even the experts agree that the process and tools for video content creation, management and delivery is constantly changing – and can be a challenge to master, let alone understand. Not only do we have to know about every possible screen size and resolution, device and platform, network bandwidth connections and constantly shifting “standards" to deliver any content, anytime, anywhere and on any device.

Multiscreen delivery, connected device platforms, hybrid IPTV/OTT systems, HTML5 and Flash Player customization controls, mobile app development, multi-upload content ingestion and management, advanced adaptive transcoding, mobile-ready encoding, intelligent device detection, user moderation and permissions setting, contextual social media extensions, intuitive ad server and network integration, extensible APIs, automated deep linking and media asset syndication, viewer engagement and geographic distribution reporting, etc... it's enough to make your head explode!

As the consultant's creed says, "“If you can’t convince them, confuse them!”

This amusing video pokes fun at the technical jargon that online video consultants say that makes your head spin. The video stars web video experts, Jan Ozer and Lisa Larson-Kelley, and is actually a humorous digital short to market a one-day web video workshop, Encoding, Serving, and Player Development for Multiple Screen Delivery that Ozer and Larson-Kelley are teaming up on again, in New York City on April 10, 2012. This Web Video Workshops session is a joint venture between Streaming Learning Center and It's presented in two sessions and covers video encoding and video serving and player development and will provide video compressionists, web developers, content producers, and video professionals end-to-end knowledge to achieve the best playback across desktops and devices.

Ozer, author of Video Compression for Flash, Apple Devices and HTML5, will cover encoding for multiple-screen delivery and review the fundamentals of producing H.264 and WebM streams, adaptive streaming and single file and adaptive playback capabilities of Flash and HTML5 on the desktop, and iOS and Android devices, other mobile handsets and tablets and prominent OTT platforms. He'll also detail transmuxing technologies like those provided by the Wowza Media Server and Adobe Flash Media Server.

Larson-Kelley, author of Flash Video for Professionals and the producer of's Publishing Video with the Flash Platform and Up and Running with Flash Media Server 4.5, summarized the workshop on her blog:
"This workshop will provide an overview of the online video landscape today, map out where its going in the future, and provide clear approaches to achieving the best quality playback on the widest array of screens. I’ll give a detailed overview of the current video capabilities of HTML5 and the Flash Platform. We’ll discuss the various devices on the market today and outline their overall classifications and critical specifications. I’ll also outline systematic approaches to reaching targeted classes of devices, with the aim to provide high quality content to the widest audience."
The session is on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM (ET), New York Plaza, NY

More information and tickets available here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Comparing Online Video Platforms – A Market in Transition

The Online video platform (OVP) market has matured over the last few years distinguishing itself from the free solutions by providing value added features, functionality and control. OVPs have made it easier for customers to buy their hosted video solutions vs. building it themselves. This infographic by Devious Media made the rounds over a month ago, and compares four of the top video management companies in the online video platform category, BrightcoveKalturaOoyala and Longtail Video. While this is a just small sampling of the market and only scratches the surface of each platform's capabilities, it's important to know what to look for when choosing an OVP and what's available from each platform.

Kris Drey, Founder of free online OVP comparison service VidCompare, says we're seeing a market in transition and smart companies are adapting to the changes in the marketplace. Currently, there are 91 companies in the OVP market that he's tracking in his online interactive OVP directory. He says differentiation is key to standing out in the crowded field, and we’re beginning to see new business models arise in small pivots.

An OVP provider is typically a SaaS (software as a service) solution providing end-to-end tools to manage, publish and measure online video content for both on-demand and live delivery. The key components of an OVP include: content management, hosting, encoding, customized video players, analytics, syndication, interactivity and monetization through a variety of 3rd-party online advertising options.

According to a Frost and Sullivan report, World Online Video Platforms Market, six key vendors define the OVP space (and capture over 75 percent of the market), and more than 20 other vendors make more than $1.0 million a year each. The report sees the considerable opportunity for the OVP market which is set to grow 11 percent during 2010-2015 and has the potential to look very different in 3-5 years.

The Brightcove IPO Effect

If you follow the space, you know that the most notable news of late is the Brightcove's recent IPO. Ooyala CEO Jay Fulcher noted the significance of the Brightcove IPO in a blog post on the Ooyala website.
"This IPO is an important milestone in the evolution of online video technology and demonstrates that the category is now maturing," says Fulcher. "Brightcove will be the first of many online media firms to go public in the coming years. There’s tremendous potential for other players to innovate and monetize the online video realm. Accessing the public market is likely critical for Brightcove, and it’s great news for the streaming media universe in general."
So Many Choices, But How to Choose?

The differentiation of video workflows and toolsets are key for OVPs, since the standard features across platforms have become commoditized, with all the choices from current and new OVPs and offerings like Vimeo Pro. Brightcove has expanded its offering with its App Cloud development platform. Ooyala competes directly with Brightcove in the media and entertainment space and is known for its analytics and monetization solutions. Kaltura has a broad educational and open-source platform and offers both a free and hosted solution. Longtail Video is the home of the world-famous JW player and a leader in video management and delivery with Bits on the Run.

vzaar and Wistia are known for their clean user interfaces and affordable platforms for businesses, Twistage and Unicorn Media's extensible workflow management tools work with existing platforms. Sorenson Media has extended its industry-leading encoding software into a CMS for video professionals, RealGravity is focused on video content syndication, DaCast operates a live streaming SaaS platform, targets brands and marketers, Liveclicker has a comprehensive video commerce platform for retailers, is an industry leader in curation solutions, VMIX has both iPhone app and video platform solutions, VPFactory has customized players and affordable plans, KIT digital has a global video platform and has amassed a formidable customer base through its acquisition strategy, and the list goes on and on...

But with all the diverse offerings from the crowded OVP market, Drey says there' hasn't been much change or major points of differentiation among the 91 OVPs in the past 6 to 12 months.
"New OVPs have sprung up like VidCaster, and MediaCore, we saw RealGravity acquired by Scripps Networks and we've witnessed our first OVP IPO" says Drey. "But other than the fact that publishers have plethora of options there really hasn't been any major movement as it relates to technology innovation." 

The key to choosing an OVP, says Jan Ozer is to choose wisely because not all OVPs are alike. So most importantly, make sure it supports your business model. Ozer cites VidCompare as a great launching point for starting your search as well as testing the platforms through their free trials. He also just published a new Buyer's Guide: Online Video Platforms on

For a unbiased and detailed evaluation of the OVPs from the infographic and more, check out Charlie Davis' blog:
 • Online Video Platform Test Drive – Brightcove
 • OVP Test Drive – Kaltura (SaaS Version)
 • Online Video Platform Test Drive – Ooyala Backlot
 • OVP Test Drive – Longtail Video: Bits On The Run
 • Online Video Platform Test Drive – Limelight Video Platform

Also, check out my pal, Joe B's (@zbutcher) Online Video Provider (OVP) List. He's done a great job tracking and evaluating all the OVPs that have come to market and is curating it on

To Be an OVP, or Not to Be? That is the Question

While it's easy to categorize all the companies into the same market, some OVPs in the space don't even see themselves as being just a video management company. In an interview with Charlie Davis, Ooyala co-founder and President of Products, Bismarck Lepe said:
"We don’t consider ourselves an OVP. Our video platform, Backlot, is just one of the many products and services we sell. Small to mid-sized companies are fine with a one-size fits all approach to video publishing, monetization and analytics, but the large broadcasters and operators require a lot more flexibility."  - Getting to Know Ooyala – My Interview with Bismarck Lepe — A Product Named Charlie
Bill Sewell of Wiredrive, an online media sharing service for business, thinks that OVPs are still not truly mainstream and well understood. Sewell says that the OVP market has similarities to the Digital Asset Management (DAM) market which he spent years in witnessing the same level of confusion.
"Clients have a painful purchase cycle - vendors promise the moon, the integrations become more complex and expensive and the client often ends up with unwieldy solutions they're stuck with for years... just in time to go through the same process again with a new vendor down the road," says Sewell. "If people don't understand the challenges of today's OVPs, how will they move towards the inevitable world of integrated SaaS technologies." 
The Growing Opportunity for Online Video Platforms

As the layers of the online video stack begin to flatten as Telcos and CDNs start to get into the OVP business we'll see an even greater transition in the market. Drey points out that we'll see some thinning of the OVP market and the innovative OVPs will focus on convergence in 2012.
"Users of online video will no longer have to sign multiple contracts with different vendors looking for CDN, OVP, AdNet, and monetization solutions."
According to Brightcove, there is a large and growing market opportunity for OVPs and it estimates the total addressable market to be approximately $2.3 billion in 2011, growing to approximately $5.8 billion in 2015. But as Dan Rayburn points out, with Brightcove's revenue of $63 million in 2011, it only captured 2.7% of the market, and that leaves a lot of high stakes opportunity for the rest of the OVP providers.

We'll see though, if the numbers play out.

Disclaimer: VidCompare is a sponsor of this blog