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Stream Video to Tablets and Smartphones: What You Need to Know

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Getting video to stream to every device on every platform might seem complex, but four speakers in a webinar entitled "Strategies for Delivering Video to Tablets and Mobile Devices" attempted to make it simple. The webinar took place on July 7, 2011, on StreamingMedia.com, and included a wealth of practical advice.

The first speaker was AJ McGowan, the chief technology officer for Unicorn Media. The PC market has matured, he noted, and it's easy to delivery video experiences. The non-PC market, though, is still full of challenges.

For publishers, the three key problems with serving video to mobile devices are inserting ads, managing the workflow, and capturing viewer information. McGowan went on to identify the challenges of working with HTML5 (which is more limited than Flash), delivering to smartphones (a fractured landscape), and streaming live (determining ad breaks and transcoding on-the-fly). He concluded by explaining the Unicorn Once solution, which takes a single upload and transcodes it into all the needed formats. McGowan then announced that Once can now work in a live environment, not just on-demand.

Viewers don't care about the technology behind the video experience, said Anthony Iaffaldano, vice president of marketing, Americas, for KIT Digital; they just want it to work. He then listed five questions that publishers needed to know about their audience before they began creating a mobile solution: Who are they? What devices are they using? Where are they? What content are you trying to get to them? And what do you want them to do? Getting those answered will let publishers determine how their audience wants to connect with content.

The third speaker, Dr. Michal Tsur, president and co-founder of Kaltura, also gave the audience some things to think about. She presented a checklist of considerations for planning a mobile strategy. Should the company present full video or a preview? Use apps or a mobile website? Does revenue come from ads or paid subscriptions? And what devices or formats must be supported?

A mobile web experience is for everyone, Tsur noted, while apps will only be used by loyal fans. She also suggested video content that did well on mobile devices: time-sensitive material (such as news), location-sensitive information, music videos, and premium content (which performs better on the larger screen of tablets).

The final speaker, David Stubenvoll, CEO and co-founder of Wowza, talked about the fluctuating status of mobile devices (such as the rise of Android and the decline of BlackBerry), while pointing out their crazy quilt of capabilities.

People streaming to mobile devices need to consider whether they want to offer video-on-demand or live video, Stubenvoll explained, and prepare for bandwidth variability. He concluded by explaining Wowza's unified workflow, which delivers to all mobile operating systems and serves uniform analytics.

During the lively question and answer session, viewers asked about streaming long-form content, the difficulties that capped data plans will bring to publishers, the possibility of mobile unifying over one format, and mobile content protection.

For more, watch the entire webinar online. It will be archived on StreamingMedia.com for the next 90 days. Free registration is required.

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