Save your FREE seat for Streaming Media Connect this August. Register Now!

Growth Spurt: CDN Year in Review

Article Featured Image
Article Featured Image

- Mirror Image, Velocix (formerly CacheLogic), Panther Express, CacheFly, and Advection.NETCombined, these companies did about $20 million in U.S. video delivery in 2007.
- EdgeCast, CDNetworks, and BitGravityCombined, I estimate these companies did about $5 million for the year, as would be expected since they all just recently launched their services in the latter half of 2007.
- PEER 1, NaviSite, and Ignite TechnologiesCombined, I estimate they did about $8 million in 2007 for video delivery services in the U.S.
- Regional service providersWhile not typically classified as CDNs, as they tend to go after small- and medium-sized business, they still provide outsourced video delivery services and tend to focus in the U.S. market in particular. I estimate the entire regional service provider market at less than $20 million for 2007.

Predictions for 2008
The real question is, how big will the CDN market for video delivery grow in 2008? Based on what I am seeing in contract terms, increased bit volume, higher bitrates, and other factors, I expect to see the U.S. video delivery market grow to about $800 million in 2008. If you factor in the revenue for P2P delivery networks in the new year, that number could go up another $20 million on the low end or $40 million on the high end.

I talk to a lot of content owners large and small, and no matter what subject we are discussing, I always ask them for their predictions on their traffic growth for 2008. While many of them share their numbers with me but don’t allow me to make them public, the vast majority of content owners are telling me that they expect to deliver two to four timesmore bits this year than they did in 2007. For most of them, that does not take into account the fact that this year, many content owners are bumping up their encoding bitrates from 300Kbps to 500–750Kbps. Taking those increased bitrates into consideration, they could see their traffic growing from four to eight times over last year.

In most cases, nearly 100% of this content is being delivered via content delivery networks, so it’s the CDNs who really make out from this growth. But the real question is whether or not as the number of bits goes up, the price per GB delivered comes down to the point of where the volume really does not make up for the reduced price. From what I can tell, even if a content owner increases its traffic by four times over last year, the typical price break it is going to receive is somewhere around 35%. On a 200TB/month commit, a customer who now is paying say 20 centsper GB delivered will be paying on average around 13 cents per GB delivered for 1,000TB/month. Now that’s not what every content owner is paying—some pay more, some less—but if we use that as an average, CDNs should still see higher overall revenue based on increased volume.

For larger deals, that may not be the case. For content owners who do 500TB/month today and grow to 2,000TB/month this year, I expect they will see close to a 50% reduction in price based on the additional volume. So for some of the really large customers, more bits delivered may not equate to more revenue for CDNs. The bottom line is that content owners are expecting to deliver a lot more bits this year and don’t see the recession cutting back on their growth or spending.

No Pricing Wars
And speaking of pricing, how will the competitive CDN pricing play out in the market in 2008? Last year, we heard a lot of talk about "price wars" among the CDNs. And while discounting took place at some levels, it was made out to be a lot worse than it was. Each quarter I publish pricing on my blog at www.cdnpricing.com and compare it with the quarters past. As you can see on my blog, while the average cost per GB declined in 4Q 2007, it was mostly due to new entrants in the market and, in many cases, analysts and customers not fairly comparing one CDN provider to another in a straight apples-to-apples comparison.

By the time you read this article, I will be close to publishing pricing data on the blog for 1Q of this year. For me, that is the real test of the market, since the newer CDNs will have been around for a few quarters and should have settled on a pricing strategy. For now, many of the new CDNs have raised a lot of cash and can survive lower pricing for the time being. For a new CDN, it is hard to sell a customer on value when you are new to the space and don’t have a lot of customers to talk about. Over time, if they are successful, they won’t have to lower prices and can sell on value, but that takes time.

Streaming Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues