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The 2012 Streaming Media All-Stars

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Robert KynclROBERT KYNCL 

Global Head of Content Partnerships, Google 

REVIOUS JOB TITLES

  • VP, Content Acquisitions, Netflix, Inc.

At Netflix, Kyncl spearheaded the company’s strategy for acquiring the rights to content for its streaming service. At Google, he is responsible for YouTube’s launch of more than 100 online TV channels, including channels from Jay-Z, Rainn Wilson, Thomson Reuters, The Onion, and Hearst magazine. Some of those channels would rank in the top 20 television channels based on audience size.

In his keynote at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show, he predicted that by 2020 up to 75% of channels will be delivered via the internet.

Note: Due to time constraints, Kyncl was unable to respond to our questionnaire.

Tal SarafTAL SARAF 

General Manager, CloudFront and Route 53, Amazon Web Services 

PREVIOUS JOB TITLES

  • Product Unit Manager for products and services including Speech Server, My MSN, and Internet Explorer, Microsoft

PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENTS

Helping democratize the CDN industry by bringing previously premium-only capabilities to a transparent, pay-as-you-go model and into the hands of everyone, from large enterprises to small startups.

NEXT BIG THING

Extending Amazon CloudFront’s global footprint and making all types of content available to the broadest range of users with the best possible performance and at low prices.

BIGGEST TREND

Customers are looking to the cloud for their end-to-end video workflows for ease of use, flexibility, and scale in order to get content delivered to multiple devices and platforms with the best possible performance and video quality. Additionally, the increased need for personalization of content is driving the compute aspects of media processing further out on the network and closer to end users.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE

Requirements for storage, processing, and delivery of online video are growing exponentially with the increasing range of devices, codecs, and screen resolutions. Companies who have traditionally run on-premise infrastructure to deliver online video are often struggling to keep up with demands arising from the increased array of devices, formats and growing audiences. We believe the cloud provides the ease of use, flexibility, and scale needed in order to meet this growing demand.

Matt SmithMATT SMITH 

Vice President, Internet Television, Envivio, Inc. 

PREVIOUS JOB TITLES

  • VP/Chief Systems Architect, Inlet Technologies
  • Chief Evangelist/Architect, Video Platform, Yahoo! 
  • Director of Interactive Services, NBC

PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENTS

I think I would say advancing the state of the art in this business is my proudest achievement. Being part of an industry that has gone from creating and leveraging technologies like NetShow and RealPlayer G2 (i know someone just chuckled) to delivering true high definition experiences today. I was one of many professionals who helped deliver the first live, linear HD video experiences ever with the Olympic games, Wimbledon, and Sunday Night Football. Helping to 'move the needle' and see streaming technology mature has been extremely rewarding.

NEXT BIG THING

The next big thing today lies in creating smarter video workflows. Decoupling digitization and encoding from the packaging element has been conceptualized and described as the next trend - and this is happening. Now, we are looking to leverage existing specifications from the broadcast realm to help create additional structure and 'smarts' in the digital media workflow. This means being able to intelligently do the same things in our space as our broadcast customers do - from blackouts to preserving and obeying streaming rights, using closed captions to ad replacement. Digital media and streaming is highly complimentary to broadcast distribution - and it even offers additional layers of control and interactivity beyond the traditional viewing experience, but we must also be able to deliver features and functionality that our broadcast brethren expect today.

BIGGEST TREND

Mass distribution of content for TV Everywhere type models. I am meeting with broadcasters internationally who need a warehouse distribution center approach to their video workflows. They are now in the business of exploring, developing and executing on new models where they provide their many live linear channels to a multitude of aggregators, and ultimately users. This is a B2B model today, but the time will also come when they are providing their content direct to the consumer in a B2C model. Building these plants today and 'getting their hands dirty' is the first step in an ever-evolving digital media dance.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE

Simply put - discontinuity. As Mark Cuban used to say in the early days of my career, 'we need to make this painfully simple'. He was talking about the business models, rules, networks - and it still applies today. We need to simplify many aspects of our industry - from security and rights management, to workflows, business rules to codecs. There have been movement in this direction - MPEG DASH and H.264/AAC being two of the most significant signs that we are able as an industry to try to standardize in some form or fashion, but we still have a long way to go. I hear great things every day about how the costs and scale that online video provide for - and if we make our tools, products and technologies easier to implement and use, we'll continue to see tremendous growth in this space.

Chris WagnerCHRIS WAGNER 

EVP and Co-Founder, NeuLion 

PREVIOUS JOB TITLES

  • CEO and member of board of directors at Metiom; MetaMatrix; Exchange Applications, Inc.; and Digital Harbor

PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENTS

We started NeuLion in 2004 with the idea to deliver TV over the internet. Today, we are powering cutting-edge, high-quality interactive TV experiences on multiple devices for major entertainment, sports, global content, and news companies across the world.

NEXT BIG THING

3D streaming over the internet—can you believe it? We launched our first trial service with SENSIO Technologies, Inc. earlier this year.

BIGGEST TREND

Live digital broadcast advertising. More and more companies will use pre- and mid-roll advertising to serve targeted ads by DMA or geography on multiple devices during live event and linear channel delivery.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE

Old rights agreements and contracts. While the definition of TV has changed so much in the last several years and live, interactive HD broadcasts are available today, many contracts still restrict the digital delivery of live content to consumers on any device.

Alex ZambelliALEX ZAMBELLI 

Senior Technical Evangelist, Media Platform, Microsoft 

PREVIOUS JOB TITLES

  • Software Test Engineer, Windows Media Player and VC-1 Codec, Microsoft

PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENTS

Working on Sunday Night Football for NBC in 2009 and Vancouver Winter Olympics for NBC and CTV in 2010 was incredibly exciting. In less than a year’s time we grew Smooth Streaming, our HTTP-based adaptive streaming technology, from a v1 product to a primetime-ready product capable of handling some of the world’s biggest streaming events. It may already seem ordinary now, but the first time we streamed nearly two dozen concurrent channels of live Olympic video in crisp 720p HD quality to hundreds of thousands of viewers – that was an exhilarating moment. It was the moment I realized that live streaming media was no longer just an Internet gimmick. Our hard work on both projects was rewarded with two Sports Emmy nominations in 2011.

Stereoscopic 3D has been a passion of mine for a long time so I was particularly proud of the fact that in 2010 I got a chance to work with NVIDIA on several groundbreaking live 3D streaming events, among them the world’s first 1080p 3D live streaming demo at IBC 2010.

NEXT BIG THING

As cloud computing continues to grow in importance, we are looking at Windows Azure as the next big expansion opportunity for Microsoft Media Platform. I am currently working with the IIS Media Services team on the next generation of Microsoft media services and we are planning to make some exciting announcements at 2012 NAB Show in Las Vegas. This being an Olympic year, the London Summer Olympics will again play an important role in our media platform this year.

BIGGEST TREND

HTTP-based adaptive streaming has become a de facto requirement for streaming of premium content, as has delivery to mobile devices. Content owners no longer ask why streaming is important, but want to know how to optimize and increase their reach. Cloud-computing has the potential to simplify media ingest, encoding and hosting workflows by abstracting and commoditizing them as cloud media services – and that is something that would’ve seemed completely unrealistic just a few short years ago.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE

The streaming media industry, unlike its broadcast cousin, still prefers to shoot from the hip, innovate quickly and not get too hung up on standards. This can be great for innovation, but it can lead to a fragmented technology field. That is why MPEG-DASH, the first industry standard for adaptive streaming over HTTP, is a welcome change of pace for the streaming media industry – but it remains to be seen how much impact it can make. This year and next year will be instrumental in showing whether the streaming media industry is mature enough to get behind a common streaming standard, or whether we still prefer the Wild West mentality.

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