I’m not quite sure how many IBC conventions I’ve attended, but I think I will soon be approaching the double-digit mark. I remember pretty clearly the first time I attended and how lost and overwhelmed I became because I had set out to visit every single Hall and learn as much as I could – and it was too much – back when you could shop for studio news desk furniture and satellites at the IBC.
Fast forward and one can say I have found my spot in the streaming space complimenting the teams at some great technology companies with the parts of the business formula where I can help make a difference with strategy, prospect engagement, onboarding, and account management. With this gained expertise comes the benefit of doing business, but perhaps somewhat at the cost of being able to sniff-out some future-coming trends. So, the good news is that I was booked straight with pre-arranged meetings for the five days, but the bad news is that I don’t have the time to roam the halls and try to interpret upcoming trends the way I used to.
Unless I was getting a coffee or meeting for lunch elsewhere, my five days at IBC were almost entirely comprised of meetings in the ¨Content Everywhere¨ Hall 14, which one could safely say is the epicenter of streaming technology at the IBC. Fortunately for me, the IBC stands for Vualto and Peer5 were only 30 meters (100 feet) away from each other so I was able to easily shuttle between the two and maintain a full-on meeting schedule.
Here are some of my take-aways from the multiple day-meeting conversations and additional chatter heard later in the evening industry events:
Streamroot Acquired by CenturyLink (aka Level3)
As a member of the Peer5 team, I have always had a certain respect for the Streamroot group both for their technology (product development) and for their business approach (marketing and sales). Between the course of IBC 2018 and IBC 2019 we were put into two head-to-head ¨bake offs¨ by potential customers, and although I can say proudly Peer5 outperformed for offload in both instances, it must be said that Streamroot also performed very well in those comparisons. As well, Streamroot always did a nice job with their marketing campaigns and capturing some high visibility customers that Peer5 would have loved to have had for their own. So, it was noteworthy (at least to me) when CenturyLink and Streamroot announced the acquisition a few days prior to IBC 2019.
Why did Streamroot agree to get acquired?
My best guess (with limited information) is that they were burning cash quickly and the offer from CenturyLink was probably easier to execute and better in valuation than what they would get from an additional round of investing.
So, what does this mean for other Peer-to-Peer providers and especially for Peer5?
At minimum it gives further legitimacy to the power of WebRTC peer-to-peer (p2p) technology for both 1) its ability to offload and deliver streams more efficiently and more economically than traditional CDNs via http for certain use cases , and 2) the added data analytics the p2p network provides to http networks because the WebRTC information is being collected from the user side [rather than from the http/server side].
I wonder to what degree Streamroot will continue to prosper under its new ownership or if it will melt into the larger company over time. This will determine to what degree this acquisition will benefit Peer5 as its primary competitor. As well, some of the marketplace might now have a clear preference to Peer5 because Streamroot can no longer legitimately say that it is CDN agnostic.
Time will tell. I will look to come back to this observation a year from now during our post IBC 2020 blog entry.
I can say with full confidence that Ultra Low Latency Steaming was THE main topic for IBC 2017, and for IBC 2018 it was still top topic, although to a lesser extent. 2019 is different; I think the industry has entered a new phase on this subject.
My first impression is that 2 years ago the entire streaming market was enthralled by the ¨Ultra Low Latency¨ buzz akin to what I saw on technologists faces some ten years ago at conventions when the word ¨cloud¨ was breaking.
My second impression on this topic is that it is getting more serious. More serious in that it has gained focus so that folks in the VOD or online broadcasting spaces realize that they are happy enough with available technologies and protocols which they can manage to get down to somewhere in the range of a 10 to 14 second delay.
And, it is the professional in the sports and gaming spaces that are the ones who have business reasons to push the industry forward to achieve a <2 second glass-to-glass streaming and – believe me – they haven’t lost their focus. They are taking note of what might be done with CMAF and its promise to get down to 3 or 4 seconds, but my feeling is that more can be done with WebRTC to get to sub 2 if someone can figure-out how to manage it with large groups and over long distances **
A friend of mine noted that most of the presentations at the ¨Content Everywhere Hub Theatre¨ stage in Hall 14 were sparsely attended except for the ¨Low Latency Live Streaming Delivery: What’s Next?¨ presentation given by Wowza. She tells me this presentation received a full crowd attendance.
*Ultra-Low Latency streaming for us is defined as a live stream delivered ¨from glass to glass¨ in under 2 seconds.
**Xross Connect will soon release news of its new partnership with a promising Start Up in the Ultra-Low Latency space.
Brightcove acquisition of Ooyala
Brightcove and Ooyala are/were perhaps the two most recognized OVPs (online video player) in the industry providing their online broadcasting and streaming customers end-to-end solutions from ingest to delivery so that their customers don’t need to sweat the details as much. These OVPs included everything from ingest, transcoding, packaging, DRM services, analytics, to hand-offs to partnering CDNs. Brightcove Inc. (NASDAQ: BCOV) completed its acquisition of Ooyala April 1, 2019.
I didn’t realize the opportunity this might provide our client, Vualto, until I saw the many conversations coming our way in search of a MODULAR OVP. I’ve always thought of Vualto as a Managed Services provider with great integration skills and orchestration tools plus DRM services. I got a very nice wake-up when some industry friends placed Vualto in the OVP space as per how they see the industry mapping of services. The difference here is that Vualto’s system (called Control Hub) is modular and can plug-in various transcoders, packagers, etc. so that partnerships are easily formed with other service providers and as clients deprecate one service and move to another. A couple of nice opportunities walked into the Vualto stand at IBC in part due to professionals looking for more flexible (and modern) alternatives to the Brightcove/Ooyala package.
OTT Foosball Tournament
Only the man above knows how many hours I spent playing foosball in the common room of my Freshman dorm at the University of Wisconsin many moons ago. I’ve still got some of the offensive moves developed and ingrained from back then, but boy were Elbar and I (aka team Peer5) overmatched at this year’s OTT Table Football tournament held at the Vualto stand and co-sponsored by Unified Streaming and Media Excel. Elbar is great on D with straight shots, but the angles (crap shots) were his weak point. I need to work on using the 5-man better and making my front 3 a bit more dynamic. Practice, practice, practice. Until next year!
The tournament was great fun a lot of attendees came over simply for the cocktails and to hang-out. I also must say I’ve never seen so many spectators watch a foosball match so closely. Some of the teams – especially the finalists Theoplayer (IBC 2018 defending Champ and runner´s up) and Cleeng (new IBC 2019 Champ) – really are impressive to watch. Congrats, guys, on spending your coffee break times wisely at the office… Something to emulate 😊.