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Publisher's Note: The Revenge of Online Video

"Do, or do not. There is no try."-Yoda in Star Wars: Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back

Joel UnickowOne of my favorite motivational quotes always seems to come back to me when I’m struggling with difficult tasks, such as weeding the garden, balancing my checkbook, or coming up with an entertaining publisher’s note for the Streaming Media Industry Sourcebook.

Typically, my Sourcebook article explains why we chose the theme for the cover. This year, we’re out in space, where your only limitation is your imagination.Why "The Revenge of Online Video?" Well, getting back to Yoda’s quote, success is really based on patience and perseverance. And for the online video industry, it’s finally paid off. There’s really no stopping it now, much like radio and TV when they got going.When we see ethernet jacks in the back of TVs, you can bet that we are well on the way toward the average consumer catching up to what savvy home computer users and businesses are doing with streaming media technology today.

It wasn’t an easy path to get here. Over the past 12 years, we’ve seen the internet bubble burst (2000), 9/11 (2001), and the economy take some serious bruises (2008–2009). Major events affect us all, and the online video space is no exception. But the greatest impact on our industry has come from the inside. It’s taken quite a while for compression to achievereliable quality. At the same time, it’s taken longerfor reasonably priced bandwidth to become widely available in the U.S. than it did in many, many othercountries. To put things into perspective, as Dan Rayburn writes in this issue’s "CDN News Roundup," the cost for Netflix to stream a movie over the internet to one person today is about 5 cents, whereas in 1998, it would have cost $270. He continues, "Of course, in 1998 no one was capable of getting a 3Mbps stream, but even if Netflix only encoded its videos for 37Kbpsin 1998, it still would have cost the company $4.80 to stream one movie. That gives you an idea of just how far video quality, consumption, and pricing has come over the past 10 years. Yet even with the rapid rate at which pricing has declined, 10 years later, companies are still struggling to figure out how to make money from online video."

That brings us to another point: making money. The entertainment industry is still figuring that out, but today it’s moving forward in leaps and bounds rather than stops and starts. And hey, if it weren’t for YouTube, the granddaddy of money losers for the online video industry, a lot of other companies out there might not be where they are today. We should at least thank YouTube for that.

But I can’t help but think about something that radioand TV haven’t been able to accomplish during thelifetime of online video: reducing our carbon footprintby cutting down on travel, shortening sales cycles forcompanies using video for training and PR, bringingloved ones closer together with video chatting, andproviding access to training and academic videolibraries that educate us faster than ever before.

For the past 12 years, we actually have not onlybeen trying but doing, even if it’s only a step at a time.And in the face of naysaying analysts, additionallicensing costs, patent battles, bogus companiesoverpromising and underdelivering, and even thosecustomers who "just didn’t get it," we now get … ourrevenge. With the groundwork done, and the worldembracing online video like no other industry on theplanet, it’s time to look to the stars to imagine andplan for what’s next.

As I wrote a few years ago, I, for one, am still waitingfor my two-way video Dick Tracy wristwatch. Anyonewho comes up with one of those and sends me one issure to get coverage. Remember, there is only do.

May this year’s Source be with you, for the seventhyear in a row, and may it be your guide once againto inspire, advise, and help you with your online video projects.