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The Growth of Live Video and the Cloud: Trends for 2012
Speaking at the end of the Streaming Media West conference, Jan Ozer explains why the cloud is hot and Flash is far from over.
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Capping a successful Streaming Media West conference in Los Angeles, StreamingMedia.com contributor Jan Ozer sat down for a red carpet interview to discuss the show's highlights. The cloud was everywhere, he said, and live video streaming was a hot topic.

"The whole live market just seemed to explode this year," Ozer said. "Livestream and Ustream are both big sponsors with big booths, and the traffic interest in all their applications was very significant. Ustream showed this cool new webcam from Logitech which can talk directly to your Wi-Fi hub, bypassing the computer, so it can shoot the picture, encode the video, and send that directly to Ustream. You don't even need a computer. You just need a Wi-Fi hot spot. That's pretty cool."

While HTML5 has long been a seen as the future of online video, Ozer explained that Flash is still the most used format for desktop streaming.

"When you point out simple facts like, 'Hey, only 66 percent of the browsers out there are HTML5-compatible, and then only 80 percent of those play H.264, and Mozilla still hasn't licensed H.264,' people are like, 'What?' They just get really riled about it," Ozer said. "I don't really have a fish to fry. But I want to work on the basis of facts. And the fact is, whether it's MPEG DASH or whether it's HTML5, at this point if it's so good, why aren't CBS and CNN and FOX and ESPN using it?"

For the full video and more on 2012 video trends, scroll down.

Steve: Hello. I'm Steve Nathans-Kelly from the Red Carpet at Streaming Media West. We're actually winding down the last day of the show here. And I'm sitting here with Jan Ozer, contributing editor to Streaming Media, chief instructor at the Streaming Learning Center. And as we get to the end of the show this year, what do you think are the key takeaways from the show this year, Jan?

Jan: Key takeaways for me were, number one, I guess cloud. And cloud in very strategic places.

If we were streaming this live, we only had 2 Megabits per second bandwidth out, and we wanted to send one stream and split that out into multiple streams, that's a perfect application for cloud computing. And everybody seems to have a product in that category now. iStreamPlanet talked about one; Haivision has one. Elemental Encoder has one. Sorenson has one.

Along the same vein, the whole live market just seemed to explode this year. Livestream and Ustream are both big sponsors with big booths, and the traffic interest in all their applications was very significant. Ustream showed this cool new webcam from Logitech which can talk directly to your Wi-Fi hub, bypassing the computer, so it can shoot the picture, encode the video, and send that directly to Ustream. You don't even need a computer. You just need a Wi-Fi hot spot. That's pretty cool.

And for the first time I saw the Studio HD500, the new $8500 portable mixer from Livestream. But I'd not seen the software before. I'd heard the announcement and saw the price and I really thought the product was focused to compete against Wirecast. It has multi-camera switching, some titling capability. But if you take a look at the product, it really seems like it's much more focused on the TriCaster class of products. And that's pretty interesting.

TriCaster's been a great, you know, it's a great product line, it's legendary. A lot of people use it. But it's really had no competition in that space. And what Livestream is doing is, you can buy the box, and the box for them was kind of the proof of concept. They wanted to test operation on one set of known inputs, one operating system, one type of device. Once they feel that it's secure, it's stable, it's going to work on a lot of different devices, they're going to roll it out as a software package only. And it's free if you're a Livestream subscriber.

But it's $2,000 if you want to use it to connect to Ustream or some other service provider. So they really are getting into the software business. I think their vision of the product is creating streams for them to distribute, but I also think that they're for real in the software business. And that's going to be a very, very interesting product. If it's as good as it looked, it's going to be quite a competitor for TriCaster.

I spoke to their president, Max Haot. I asked him, "Are you getting in the software business?" He said, "We don't care about the people who are in this room as much as we care about the next million people who are going to be streaming live. That's who we built the software for." So I think he really is still trying to drive business to Livestream with the software, but you can't dip your toe into the software water. You've got to be credible. And the software looks very, very credible.

Steve: All right. Well that's good wrap-up. It's been a good show this year.

Jan: It was a high-energy show. In the three shows this year, not every one of the shows was as positive as this one was, and it really seemed like the people who came through were interested and they were producing and they were wanting to do more producing, and the exhibitors were happy with the traffic. They always want more, but they thought that the people who showed up at the booths were very high-quality prospects. And I had a bunch of people who asked really piercing questions in my sessions.

Steve: Did it get you rattled at all?

Jan: What's interesting to me is that I gave the same talk two weeks ago at Streaming Media Europe in London, particularly on producing for HTML5. With HTML5, we're not talking about encoding; we're talking about religion, right? Because Flash is "bad" and HTML5 is "good." And when you point out simple facts like, "Hey, only 66 percent of the browsers out there are HTML5-compatible, and then only 80 percent of those play H.264, and Mozilla still hasn't licensed H.264," people are like, "What?" They just get really riled about it. And I don't really have a fish to fry. But I want to work on the basis of facts. And the fact is, whether it's MPEG-DASH or whether it's HTML5, at this point if it's so good, why aren't CBS and CNN and FOX and ESPN using it? Why are they still using Flash? They're using HTML5 somewhat on the mobile side, but for desktops, it's still Flash. And don't tell me it's awful, don't tell me about the flaws. Show me people who are replacing Flash with HTML5. And it's just they're not doing it because it's not there yet.

Two-and-a-half years ago the iPad was introduced and Flash was dead, right? We all saw the headlines. It's really sad when perception's more important than reality. And the reality is, whether it's DASH or whether it's HTML5, it's just not being used. Not that Flash is this great technology. But it's used on the desktop, and it provides a superior experience to what you can get from HTML5. It's more pervasive than HTML5 and that's what people are using. And it just really stinks that two-and-a-half years after the iPad came out, the experience isn't the equivalent for an iPad as it is on a Flash-based desktop, yet people still say Flash is dead and it's a terrible technology.

Steve: All right. Well, thanks, Jan. It's been good to do this wrap-up and we're going to sign off now from the Red Carpet at Streaming Media West.