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The 2012 Streaming Media All-Stars
It's time once again to celebrate the people who made our industry great in the past year and continue to drive innovation. Presenting the ten new inductees to the Streaming Media All-Stars!
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When we chose our first Streaming Media All-Stars team in 2008, we probably should have called them Streaming Media’s Most Valuable Players. Unlike All-Stars, who in professional sports are selected merely by popular vote, MVPs are selected on the basis of not only statistics and performance but on their value to the team. That’s why, for instance, the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers was named the 2012 National Football League MVP, even though the New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees had a statistically better season.

And so it is with our All-Stars, who were chosen not simply because they’ve done great things on their own but because they’ve done things that have advanced the online video industry as a whole, whether via their products or by the degree to which they’ve acted as evangelists for online video and served to educate other members of the industry.

Whether you call them All-Stars or MVPs, the selection process remains the same in this fifth year of the awards. The Streaming Media editorial staff takes a look at the past year in online video and names the people we feel are most deserving based on our knowledge of what they’ve done for the industry. The only rule is that previous All-Stars are ineligible; that may change down the road, but for now, there are still too many deserving people who haven’t yet been recognized. Here’s this year’s team:

  • Eric Berger, Sony Pictures Television 
  • Allen DeBevoise, Machinima, Inc.
  • Joe Einstein, AEG Digital Media
  • Darren Feher, Conviva, Inc.
  • Steve Heffernan, Zencoder
  • Robert Kyncl, Google
  • Tal Saraf, Amazon Web Services 
  • Matt Smith, Envivio, Inc.
  • Chris Wagner, NeuLion
  • Alex Zambelli, Microsoft

We asked each of our All-Stars a few questions to help us assemble the baseball cards that follow:

  • What are your proudest achievements? 
  • What’s the “next big thing” you’re working on?
  • What’s the biggest trend in online video right now?
  • What’s the biggest challenge facing the industry?

Congratulations to all of them! Look here for last year’s Streaming Media All-Stars.

Eric BergerERIC BERGER 

EVP Digital Networks, Sony Pictures Television 

PREVIOUS JOB TITLES

  • VP Strategic Planning, Time Warner
  • Principal Consultant, Pricewaterhousecoopers International Ltd.
  • General Manager, We Media

PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Taking Crackle from a user-generated site to one of the top multiplatform video entertainment services in the U.S.
  • Taking Sony Pictures’ mobile game publishing business from the No. 17 to the No. 4 publisher in the market.

NEXT BIG THING

Launching Crackle in Latin America

BIGGEST TREND

The emergence of new pure-play digital video networks that sit side by side with traditional networks. For programming, the biggest trend is the movement away from short-form toward long-form content creation and consumption.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE

The lack of third-party measurement and standardization across all platforms. As this gets resolved, more ad revenue will flow into the digital marketplace.

Allan DeBevoiseALLEN DEBEVOISE

Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder, Machinima, Inc. 

PREVIOUS JOB TITLES

  • Member, board of directors, Dealer.com, StyleHaul, DanceOn (current); LowerMyBills.com and True/Slant (past)
  • President & CEO, TCI Interactive 
  • Co-Founder, Creative Planet

PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Starting Machinima, one of the largest entertainment networks on YouTube, and working with some of the brightest and most entrepreneurial minds in the business
  • Reaching 1 billion video views a month in November 2011 
  • Being on the animation team for the original Tron film 

NEXT BIG THING

Going global, reaching further and building our international and domestic audiences even more, while working directly with global content creators and partners. Also, working with our partners and content creators to develop and distribute premium, quality content.

BIGGEST TREND

Online video is at a tipping point -- the global audience and adoption of video-enabled devices has created a massive entertainment opportunity. We see ourselves as part of a third wave of video programming brands, where the first was broadcast, and the second was cable. We have created, in just a couple of years, a global entertainment network, with millions and millions of unique users in territories around the world, 150 million viewers worldwide. We are on every device and every platform. Our content is consumed in offices, in schools, in homes, in check-out lines, on smart phones, tablets, and TVs -- anywhere, anytime. This trend is only accelerating and, as the quality of content continues to improve, and audiences continue to migrate toward internet-enabled programming brands like ours, we'll see very interesting shifts in viewing behavior, content formats, and advertising models.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE

Trying to get traditional advertisers, agencies and media industries to understand that online video has arrived and achieved scale with premium and quality content, allowing for maximum branding and performance opportunities.

Joe EinsteinJOE EINSTEIN

VP, Technical Services and Operations, AEG Digital Media 

PREVIOUS JOB TITLES

  • Co-Founder, Incited Media
  • Director of Engineering, Digital Planet 
  • Senior Technical Producer, iXL Live

PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENTS

Being part of the teams that plan, engineer, and execute the largest entertainment events in our industry including the Academy Awards, the Grammys, Live Earth, and Live 8. With each of these projects, we used new technologies that had significant impact on the workflows of our industry.

NEXT BIG THING

A global broadcast and data center to fully support the needs of today’s television and online broadcasters.

BIGGEST TREND

Online portions of larger televised events are becoming a higher priority than ever before. It used to be that the online show was an afterthought. It is now close to sharing an equal spotlight. These events now demand a multi-camera online experience with elaborate social media integration and near real-time turnaround of VOD content.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE

Encoding and DRM support for devices will pose the biggest challenge over the next few years. As consumers start to expect content on every device, the demand is going to increase the complexity of the media prep and delivery.

Darren FeherDARREN FEHER 

CEO, Conviva, Inc. 

PREVIOUS JOB TITLES

EVP and CTO at NBCUniversal

PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENTS

I am really proud to have worked with many great people on several “firsts” in digital media such as the launch of Hulu and the first real multiplatform digital Olympics. I also love knowing that each day Conviva improves the viewing experience for millions of people watching great content online.

BIGGEST TREND

I think the most obvious trend is the proliferation of great content experiences on more platforms, using a variety of business models. We are seeing that roughly 40% of streaming now takes place on mobile devices for major content brands, this has doubled in the last 6 months. This particular trend is so disruptive, I view it as a battle for the lifetime relationship with the customer. Device makers, games consoles, MVPDs and content aggregators are all competing to establish this relationship. For Conviva, its interesting to watch and great for us no matter who ultimately wins because no matter where viewers get their content, there will always be demand for a high quality viewing experience, free from interruptions like buffering.

I am also excited about the blending of content--social and commerce--and see that becoming more personalized and seamless for consumers in the future.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE

I think a huge challenge is meeting consumer expectations of high quality viewing on every platform right now while there is still a lot of fragmentation in the technology of the digital video space. Today, the experience is inconstant from device to device, from network to network and that's bad for viewers.

Steve HeffernanSTEVE HEFFERNAN 

Founder and VP Marketing, Zencoder 

PREVIOUS JOB TITLES

Partner, Sevenwire (developers of On2 Flix Cloud)

PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Helping build Zencoder into the largest cloud transcoding service in just less than 2 years
  • Creating Video.js, the leading open source HTML5 video player, with more than 100,000 downloads

NEXT BIG THING

Zencoder is already pretty good at providing the fastest transcoding speeds, but the technology we’re currently developing has an additional order of magnitude speed-up. Could be a game-changer.

BIGGEST TREND

I’m biased, but I see a move away from heavy investments in hardware towards cloud services. More companies are understanding what The Cloud actually is and its true benefits, which is not simply housing and managing servers for you, but instead abstracting the concept of servers, allowing for greater efficiency and infinite scalability. The cloud transcoding market alone has seen exponential growth in the last year.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE

End-to-end security: secure delivery, encryption at rest within web services, a changing DRM landscape, HTML5 video security, plus shifting security requirements. For example, some studios don't want their content in the cloud, and yet Netflix is a heavy user of Amazon Web Services for its transcoding.

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It's time once again to celebrate the people who made our industry great in the past year and continue to drive innovation. Presenting ten new inductees to that elite group, the Streaming Media All-Stars!