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Meet our Streaming Forum Speaker: Jason Thibeault

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Jason Thibeault, Sr. Director, Marketing Strategy, Limelight Networks, USA

Jason Thibeault, Senior Director, Marketing Strategy at Limelight Networks will be presenting the keynote session on Wednesday 19 June (9-10am), The Power of Storyshowing. He will also appear on a panel session, The Future of CDNs, half an hour later on the same day. Here he tells us a little bit about himself and what he will be talking about.

 

Tell us a little about you, your background and your current role.

I am currently the Sr. Director, Marketing Strategy at Limelight Networks and responsible for much of the way Limelight is positioned in the market.

What will you be talking about at Streaming Forum? Why have you chosen this subject?

Although a deep technologist at heart, I am also a storyteller. Schooled as a professional writer my love is storytelling. The great thing about the digital world is that it transforms storytelling. They aren’t just words anymore (or just video). Magical combinations of mediums can come together to create vibrant and interactive experiences. When you bring that to the business world you realize that everyone, even organizations, are trying to tell a story and it’s how we engage with each other. This really is where I spend my time.

In my keynote, The Power of Storyshowing, you’ll learn the 9 killer things you need to tell awesome stories with video. You’ll see examples of business stories that make us cry, make us laugh, and make us want to take action. You’ll leave with one key message burning in your mind: “I have to go tell my story.”

I will also be sitting on a panel talking about The Future of the CDNs. The CDN is really fascinating. As a market and a service it’s changing. It’s evolving because we are all realizing that delivery is just one component of getting that story to our audiences. I am fascinated by this evolution of CDNs from just dumb pipes to intelligent networks that can help organizations tailor content delivery into contextually-relevant experiences for their audience. That’s powerful.

Name some key challenges faced by your clients, and tell us how you are overcoming them?

Our clients are struggling with digital marketing, with engaging with their audiences, with their digital presence. Many of the systems they use to manage and publish websites, to manage and publish videos, to store objects, to deliver them, are all disconnected. That makes it really hard to tell a consistent story across all devices anywhere in the world so that they can maximize engagement (which is what they want as engagement leads to intimacy leads to conversion). We help them wipe away some of that complexity (let’s be honest, we aren’t a silver bullet for a problem this big) by making it easier to create, manage, and deliver an awesome digital presence through a single, cloud-based platform of integrated tools for their website, video, storage, delivery/performance, and analytics.

What do you see as major trends in streaming media?  

I see streaming media getting more personalized and more interactive. Obviously video is going to dominate content over the next five years. The data trajectory is incredible. But, just as websites transformed to dynamic, contextual experiences, so too will video. It can’t be just dumb. Discovery has to be smarter, it has to be linked to who I am, what I like, where I’ve been. This will require a lot of real-time data from both the player and the evolution of the CDN but the cloud resources are there now (i.e., Hadoop clusters and elastic computing) to acquire and process it. It’s just a matter of time before the content owners and the technologists begin to integrate that into the video experiences they have been building.

What’s the do you enjoy the most about your job in this industry?

Working with amazing clients, companies that are trying to reshape the way we tell, interact, and experience stories. Whether it’s stories about their company, or stories from the big screen, or stories about their customers, these organizations are transforming the web with their digital content and I get to be at the center of it all as part of Limelight.

 

Jason’s keynote, The Power of Storyshowing, takes place on Wednesday 19 June, 9.00-10.00.

 

The panel session, The Future of CDNs, is on Wednesday 19 June, 10.30 – 11.30.

The panel consists of:

Moderator: Dom Robinson, Co-Founder, Director. id3as & Contributing Editor, StreamingMedia.com, id3as, UK

Panellists: Jason Thibeault, Sr. Director, Marketing Strategy, Limelight Networks, USA, Stef van der Ziel, CEO, Jet-Stream, The Netherlands, Miles McWilliams, Head of Global Sales – IP Transit & CDN, Deutsche Telekom, UK, Mike Smith, Solutions Engineer, Edge Comuting & CDN Services, Mirror Image Internet, UK, and James Fletcher, Marketing Director, CDN.net,UK.

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29 May News Roundup: Brightcove, Datmedia, Harmonic, Microsoft, Ooyala

This week’s developments in online video:

Brightcove announced it had been selected by La Vanguardia to publish the newspaper’s online video. La Vanguardia is the largest newspaper in Barcelona, and this marks another big move by Brightcove in their on-going European expansion.

Datmedia is making a major push with its Datpresenter online video platform (which Streaming Media reviewed here), but they’ve also introduced a very neat new enhanced podcasting tool. You can learn more about it by listening to this podcast, which we recorded with Datmedia’s Jay Pritchard at Streaming Media East in New York earlier this month.

Harmonic Inc. announced at the ANGA Cable show in Cologne that its Direct-2-Edge (D2E) solution had been deployed by South Korea’s SK Broadband, for what it called the “largest commercial IPTV launch to date.”

• France Télévisions is partnering with Microsoft, Inlet, and Level 3 to present the French International tennis tournament, held at Roland Garros, live in HD using Microsoft’s IIS7 Smooth Streaming.

• Ooyala officially announced its new “Swift” player; we broke the news last week in another Streaming Media podcast.

Check out Streaming Media Global each day for breaking news and industry announcements.

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Record Attendance at Streaming Media East

Just back from a terrific week in New York, meeting with readers and exhibitors. We had more attendees than ever before (well, at least since the heady pre-bubble days), with 3,733 registered for the two-day event. Larry Kless, who’s written for Streaming Media and has his own blog covering the online video industry, did my work for me (thanks, Larry), and collected links to as many of the news stories coming out about the show — check it out here.

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CDNetworks Begins Major European Push

CDNetworks announced today that it renewed its partnership with Toyota Spain to provide Flash streaming for the auto maker’s sales website. Normally, the announcement of a renewed contract wouldn’t be worth noting, but with CDNetworks’ recent merger with Panther Express, the content delivery network is making a push to become a major player in the European space.

Currently, CDNetworks has about 150 customers in Europe, according to VP of EMEA Robert Gribnau, with whom I spoke last week; he said the company hopes to double its European customer roster by the end of 2009. Right now CDNetworks has 17 data centers in Europe, but since some of those were Panther Express nodes, Gribnau said that number will actually decrease in the next few months to cut down on redundancy.

Gribnau also spoke to the challenges that the Korea-based company has faced moving into the European market after its successful entry into the U.S. market a couple years ago. “Most of the content generated in the U.S. has some general global appeal, whereas most of the content in European countries tends to be specific to that country, for language and cultural reasons,” he says. “So the challenge is that the market is so fragmented.” Beyond the language and cultural issues, he pointed to the differences in regulatory environments that mean a CDN can’t simply treat Europe as a single entity. “French labor law is different from British labor law, for instance,” he said, “and for security and confidentiality reasons, some content needs to be stored in and delivered to only the country in which it’s created.

We’ll be taking an in-depth look at the European content delivery space in the Autumn issue of Streaming Media magazine — get your free subscription here.

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TeliaSonera To Enter CDN Market

Streaming Media’s Dan Rayburn reports the following on his Business of Video blog:

With all the carriers and telcos entering the CDN space of late, it’s no surprise that European carrier TeliaSonera plans to enter the CDN market and will probably make the announcement at the MIPTV show in Cannes next month.

teliasonera1TeliaSonera is the number one carrier of IP traffic in Europe and their website says they provide direct connections to their network for more than 80% of all European broadband service providers. They basically own the vast majority of eyeballs in Europe. Currently, many of the CDNs who have delivery services in Europe buy from TeliaSonera and it appears as if they now want to cut out the CDNs and take that business on themselves.

I’m also hearing that they plan to offer a video content management service across their network and plan to make an acquisition in the market to add this functionality to their offering, although I don’t know who they plan to acquire or how close a deal may be.

TeliaSonera will need to do a lot more than just be able to deliver bits if they want to truly enter the CDN market and if they do plan to add some applications to the network to help manage video assets, it’s a similar approach that Level 3 is taking in the United States. The CDN market is going to look very different 24 months from now and while it will take many years for the shift to take place, we’re already starting to see a lot of the carriers and telcos lay the ground work for what it to come.

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BT Plans To Enter The CDN Industry By Year’s End, Will Build It Themselves

Dan Rayburn writes on his Business of Video blog on StreamingMedia.com :

Considering how many telcos and carriers have recently entered the market it should come as no surprise that BT plans to offer a content delivery service of their own by the end of this year. It’s been widely known that for some time now, BT has been looking at the CDN landscape evaluating how best to enter the market and it appears they have decided on a strategy.

Based on an interview they did this week with Informa Telecoms & Media, BT said that, “We believe that we can build our own CDN as effectively as reselling others solutions.” While this built it yourself approach by BT does not surprise me, unless BT only wants to have a regional CDN footprint, I think it’s the wrong approach. It is possible that BT may just focus on building out a European based CDN which would be a lot easier for them than trying to deploy a CDN with a global footprint. But if they want to service content owners who need delivery to all regions of the world, BT is going to have a really hard time playing catch up in the market. You can’t just throw a bunch of money at the problem. It takes a lot more than deploying lots of boxes to have a real CDN offering in the marketplace.

If BT only focuses on Europe, or even just the UK to start, they could have an offering out sometime this year that could be fairly well received. BT has a deep customer base to sell to and already has loads of infrastructure in place in the UK. If BT starts out small and stays regional, they could see some success with their offering beginning next year. But if they want to become a global content delivery network and think they can have something out in the market by the end of this year, that’s just not realistic.

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Video CDN Pricing Stable in Q4

Streaming Media executive VP Dan Rayburn writes on his Business of Video blog:

I’ve just completed my review of all the contracts and RFPs I saw in the market for the fourth quarter of 2008 and overall, pricing from the major content delivery networks for video delivery was pretty stable without much decline in pricing from the third quarter. (note: you can easily find my latest pricing post at www.cdnpricing.com)

Looking at pricing year over year, it looks like CDN pricing for video on a per GB delivered model fell between 30-35% from 2007 to 2008. While many of the contracts from the fourth quarter was for new business in the market and not contract renewals, those with renewing contracts saw on average about a 50% decline in pricing from a year or more ago. While that might make some think pricing fell in half year over year, remember that many of these contracts are 12 and 24 months in length and also included a lot more traffic over a twelve month period. Additionally, we saw many content owners increase their video bitrates from 300Kbps in 2007 to 500-750Kbps in 2008. In many cases this increased the number of bits they pushed by two or three times without any additional growth in traffic year over year.

The other trend from the fourth quarter is that many of the major CDNs are giving volume discounts on lower tiers. In the past, customers had to be doing hundreds of TBs per month to see major discounts, but in the fourth quarter, many CDNs were dropping the volume tier to lower levels. Those doing around 250TB a month are getting better volume pricing.

While many want to say that some CDN vendors are only competing on price or are giving the business away, this is not the case with the major providers. I have seen multiple instances where Limelight and Level 3 have passed on business because the customer wanted pricing that was too low. Yes, pricing is a factor but it is not the only factor for customers when signing contracts. For the quarter, the lowest pricing I saw in the market was still from newcomer BitGravity and the highest pricing was still from Akamai.

While some are speculating that Akamai is now starting to cut pricing for commoditized video delivery, I don’t see that being the case across the board. In many cases they are offering lower pricing than before, but their bottom price that I saw was still about 20-25% more than what Limelight, Level 3 and CDNetworks are charging for completely commoditized video delivery business. You can read more on Akamai’s recent pricing trends from my post last month entitled “Akamai Getting More Aggressive On CDN Pricing, But More Steps Are Needed.”

For 2009, I don’t expect to see a big decline in pricing. Even with the lower pricing that we are seeing from folks like Cogent and others, the CDNs all know that they can’t give this stuff away. The content delivery business is all about the economics of scale. CDNs have to multiply the volume of traffic on their network many times over before the next round of major pricing discounts can take place. I think it will at least a year in the market before we see that happen. So while pricing always goes down based on customers doing more volume, I don’t expect a big drop at all this year.

In my previous pricing posts, I was including pricing averages from roughly 15 different CDNs. I’ve quickly realized that this causes the average price to fluctuate greatly based on one provider being very high or very low in the market and skews the numbers. The pricing also changes drastically based on the volume of bandwidth that one is committing to, which I have also varied over previous post based on deals I’m seeing in the market.

Starting with this post, I am only going to use the pricing I see from the 4-5 major CDNs in the market to come up with the average price per GB delivered. Moving forward, I’m also going to keep the GB volume the same each quarter so that it is easier and more accurate to compare pricing from one quarter to another. This is not an exact science but keeping the data points consistent from one quarter to another will help everyone be able to better compare pricing over the course of the year.

For content owners, please keep in mind that the below pricing is not necessarily what you should pay. Many factors can and should affect the pricing and the averages I published are for large volume commoditized video delivery contracts.

The average contract length I am seeing for video only delivery is still 12 months. For contracts that include more than just video delivery, things like small object delivery, static caching etc. contract lengths average close to 24 months.

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Jet Stream Named Readers’ Choice Award Winner

One of the highlights of Streaming Media Europe was presenting the first-ever Readers’ Choice Award for Regional (European) Content Delivery Network. The finalists were Global-MIX and Stream UK, both from the UK, and Jet Stream from the Netherlands. Showing the truly pan-European nature of the show, Jet Stream was the winner for its Streamzilla content delivery service. Congrats to Stef van der Ziel and everyone else at Jet Stream.

Next year, we’ll be presenting an entire awards program specifically focusing on the European market. Watch this space and the Streaming Media Global site for details to come!

 

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Huge Numbers for Olympics Streams in the Netherlands

OlympicsThe six gold medals won by Dutch competitors (so far) isn’t the only big Olympics-related news coming out of the Netherlands. According to Egon Verharen from Netherlands Public Broadcasting (Nederlandse Publieke Omroep, or NPO), the broadcaster delivered 17 million streams of Olympics video during the first week of the games. Not bad for a country with a population of just over 16.5 million, and terrific when compared to the 30 million claimed by NBC for the same time period in the U.S. (population 301 million — you do the math.)

Also, unlike NBC, NPO is streaming almost everything it is broadcasting on television, from 12 SD satellite feeds and 2 HD satellite feeds, Verharen says. The 12 SD feeds are delivered at 800Kbps Windows Media Video 9 in both Silverlight and the standard Windows Media Player, along with a feed from Netherlands-1, so viewers can choose between 13 streams in the player. On Netherlands-1, Verharen says, “we use the HD feed as much as possible. Only if Dutch sporters are active in a sport that is not available on the HD sat feed do we use the SD feed.” The HD stream is 7.1Mbps VC-1. “The demand for the HD stream is low, but purposely kept that way,” says Verharen. “We see this as an experiment and in no way can it interfere with the regular internet streaming.”

To provide enough capacity for all that streaming, NPO is using private peers and is peering at the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (IX) with Dutch providers to deliver its traffic. That approach is something of a test run for NPO’s plans for the future to use the Dutch Open CDN Project via the Amsterdam IX, which sees about 450Gbps of traffic at peak, according to Stef van der Ziel of Jet Stream; Jet Stream originally initiated the idea for the Dutch Open CDN Project, which is a non-profit consortium of ISPs and broadcasters including NPO, RTL, KPN, Jet Stream, Crossmedia Ventures, and SURFnet. According to van der Ziel, the ISPs involved agree to help offload traffic when it goes over the peak that the Amsterdam IX can handle. For the Olympics, Jet Stream is supporting some of the ISPs and is offering overflow capacity.

NPO’s offloading approach is part of a project Verharen calls the “sports summer” pilot, since it was used for not only the Olympics but also the UEFA Champions League and Tour de France. “The ultimate goal of the Dutch Open CDN Project is to lower costs, increase volume and quality of service, and to let ISPs offer better management of the traffic. In the future, there needs to be discussion about covering the costs that the ISPs make to handle the traffic,” says van der Ziel.

The HD streams are “a pilot within the pilot,” van der Ziel say, since some of them are multicast within the SURFnet network. “If a wi-fi staton or router at any point near an end user isn’t multicast-enabled, it rolls over to SD,” he says. According to him, about 5% of broadband subscribers are capable of viewing HD streams over ADSL or fiber optic.

Other NPO partners, according to Verharen, are Digital Rapids (for the HD encoding), Technicolor (for hosting the HD encoding and encoding the regular satellite feeds), SURFnet (for distributing the HD stream in unicast and multicast within their network), and Crossmedia Ventures (for serving the HD stream and Silverlight app to the general internet).

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