Streaming Media News Roundup

Though the crowds may have thinned a bit from years past, NAB still attracts the broadcasting faithful and allows digital media companies to tout new products and announce new partnerships.

At this year’s NAB conference, Discreet, Sonic Foundry, and ViewCast all rolled out new incarnations of their signature streaming products. MPEG-4 made a splash with DivX, Sorenson, and Sarnoff announcements, while On2 Technologies CEO Doug McIntyre created a stir with a letter to the Justice Department charging the MPEG LA with "streamrolling" approval of MPEG-4 licensing. And streaming industry bigwigs gathered for an uneventful panel, save Intertainer CEO Jonathan Taplin's rant against what’s holding online entertainment back.

DRM Excuse To Hold Industry Back

In a high-profile, name-dropping panel, top executives discussed the state of the online entertainment industry in an NAB panel titled "Xstream Expectations: Opportunities and Challenges for Streaming Media."

While Larry Jacobsen, COO with Real Networks, walked the audience through a rehashed look at RealOne, and Will Poole, Microsoft’s Corporate VP, introduced "FreeStyle" – a remote control for a futuristic home-connected entertainment network – it was Intertainer’s CEO Jonathan Taplin who supplied the panel’s only fireworks.

Citing the high-demand for streaming media entertainment but slow development of sustainable business models, Taplin launched into a brief tirade against online piracy fears. "I don’t take the threat of media companies seriously," said Taplin. "They’re using DRM as an excuse to slow down the market. The content is safe."

Not just singling out the media conglomerates, Taplin also chastised the telecom industry for dragging its feet in guaranteeing high-speed bandwidth ("At a minimum, we should all have 750 Kbps," said Taplin) and accused broadband providers of oversubscribing their networks.

Announcements

Last month, Discreet announced the availability of cleaner central, its automated content mastering system for high-volume streaming media publishing, offering demos at NAB. In addition, Discreet also quietly announced cleaner streaming studio – a bundling of popular software products cleaner live, cinestream, and cleaner. According to Matt Gale, head of strategic marketing with Discreet, cleaner streaming studio is designed and priced reasonably for digital content producers and videographers.

SonicFoundry, while announcing a new version of its editing system Sound Forge 6.0, emphasized the development of a new capture and webcasting system for rich-media presentations. Known as MediaSite Live, the system is designed for live webcasting within enterprise applications including CEO briefings and product launches, said James Diaz, vice president of streaming solutions with Sonic Foundry. Pricing and availability have yet to be determined.

ViewCast also announced an upgrade to its Osprey-500 capture device. The Osprey 540 – hailed with an array of new inputs and outputs to integrate into professional media equipment – is designed for the enterprise market and compatible with Osprey Digital SimulStream.

MPEG-4 at NAB

On the MPEG-4 front, Sarnoff Corporation announced the integration of its MPEG-4 video encoder on Equator Technologies BSP-15 chip designed for PVRs, set-top boxes and DVD recorders. The companies demonstrated the new technology partnership interoperating with a Serome MPEG-4 player.

Also, iVast made several announcements at NAB – including a partnership with cable services provider ClearStar and production company Cloud Systems. Other MPEG-4 announcements included DivXNetworks, Inc. partnering with e.Digital Corporation to jointly develop a range of consumer electronics devices, including handhelds, DVD players, set-top boxes and digital cameras, all using DivX video. And Sorenson announced the preview availability of its MPEG-4 Advanced Simple Profile video codec. The company said the codec is available now with negotiable licensing rates.

On2 Cries MPEG-4 Monopoly

Speaking of MPEG-4 video licensing, On2 Technologies’ president and CEO Doug McIntyre garnered the most press of the week with a heated position paper accusing the patent-holding companies of MPEG LA of dominating the market and fixing prices.

"MPEG-4 is trying to monopolize the substantially software-based interactive video compression industry," said McIntyre, in the conclusion of a white paper sent to the Department of Justice and all attorneys general. McIntyre contends that the MPEG LA has not applied to the Justice Department for approval of the MPEG-4 patent pool, and is taking a "steamroller approach" to establish encoding and decoding licensing fees. On2 recently announced the preview of its competing video codec, VP5.

MPEG LA has reportedly dismissed the claims of On2 and emphasizes the licensing program has yet to be finalized.

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