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The State of Enterprise Video 2019

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All other operating systems need to add an appropriate DVD player. For instance, with Windows 8, Microsoft notes on its DVD Playback Options page: “Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro don’t come with DVD movie playback capability. If you’re running Windows 8.1 or Windows 8.1 Pro, you can search for a DVD player app in Microsoft Store."

Likewise, for Windows 10, a “Windows DVD Player” app can be purchased to enable “Windows 10 PCs with an optical disc drive to play DVD movies,” although this will not allow playback of Blu-ray Discs.

One additional impact in this limited DVD playback support is the potential lack of MPEG-2 codecs in the codec packs for Windows 8.1 or Windows 10. It’s uncertain whether the Windows DVD Player app noted above will install an MPEG-2 codec that’s been used in Windows 7 (Microsoft DTV-DVD Video Decoder) or whether the installed MPEG-2 codec is accessible to all applications within a Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 environment.

It is certainly worth assessing whether your enterprise is reliant on MPEG-2 for any part of your prerecorded or streaming media workflow. If you have an edition of Windows that doesn’t play DVDs, you can enable DVD playback by installing another edition of Windows or a DVD app.

4K, HD, or SD?

The consumer world we live in, especially from an entertainment standpoint, is a solidly high-definition world. While it’s been primarily HD (720p) or Full HD (or 1080p) for quite some time, entertainment content delivery is moving toward a norm of ultra-high definition (UHD).

Enterprise, on the other hand, has lagged significantly in terms of production quality. But MediaPlatform’s Newman says that this is changing now that enterprise webcasters have achieved live webcasting proficiency at scale. Part of this proficiency is now being leveraged to make the webcasts themselves look better, from the camera forward.

“Our customers are going way past the ‘four times a year’ Quarterly Earnings Town Hall webcasts and are now in the hundreds of webcasts per year,” says Newman. “This is driving their focus on analytics, but also driving a higher standard for video throughout their organizations.”

While it’s true that not every organization has built-in video production skills in its employee base, media-quality proficiency is critical in a day and age where video consumption is replacing reading as a way to get the word out about an external product or an internal process.

“Even the company’s top subject matter experts can be negatively impacted with poor video quality or lack of preparation,” says Newman. “Customers that once asked us for webcasting and AV support only for all-hands, CEO town halls are now asking for year-long services support so we can be an extension of their internal AV teams helping to bring video standards and advice to users hosting smaller webcasts for department-wide meetings, product launches, hosting technical or customer symposia, and even for routine informational presentations (like IT services training) to much smaller or on-demand audiences.”

A practical by-product of this move is an increase in purpose-centered video and audio capture. In other words, there’s a possibility that webcasts won’t occur as frequently from laptop webcams, instead being generated by a more traditional multi-person, live broadcast crew.

“Among power video users, we predict that informal, webcam-based video will soon be used only for live, interactive meetings and calls,” says Newman, “rather than as a source for live webcasts.”

VLC Gains in Popularity

During the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show, held in Las Vegas in early January 2019, the team behind the open-source VLC media player noted that the app has been downloaded more than 3 billion times.

Available for a wide variety of operating systems, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the Apple Macintosh and MacOS platforms, as well as the Windows Store, VLC can play a wide variety of content from physical media to streaming formats.

The version of VLC player available on the Windows Store, for instance, requires at least Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, but it’s designed to run on both ARM and x86 devices. This means devices from the Surface Pro to low-powered ARM-based tablets can use this version of VLC to play Matroska files (MKV), including multiple audio and subtitles tracks as well as “network streams such as HLS, MMS or RTSP." 

In addition, based on growing demand, VLC also supports 10-bit video playback necessary for high dynamic range (HDR) content made popular as part of blockbuster movies, but increasingly available to enterprise content creators who are using Ultra HD 4K for acquisition and playback.

Jean-Baptiste Kempf (right), VideoLAN’s president and lead developer, says that an updated version of VLC, with the version 4.0 designation, will include integrated HDR support.

For an enterprise that wants to customize its player experience, the VideoLAN not-for-profit association that maintains VLC offers the player “bi-licensed under the Mozilla Public License Version 2 as well as the GNU General Public License Version 2 or later.”

This means that an enterprise, according to VideoLAN, “can modify or redistribute its sources under the conditions of these licenses.”

Distributing Everywhere

One reason why a consistent player, or player app such as VLC, is critical centers on the similarities of user interfaces across consumption devices. This approach not only sets a consistent customer experience baseline, but also provides a head start on a continuing enterprise request—delivering content everywhere, from the WAN to the LAN to the mobile road warrior, at the same time.

MediaPlatform’s Newman says that EVPs need to listen to customer demands in this regard. “Customers will continue to demand that their EVPs deliver video using any and all possible technologies.” Newman notes that this can include content delivery networks (CDNs) as well as intranet solutions like multicasting.

“Vendors will need to deliver video over the corporate network, which will continue to be a hodge-podge of technologies, including eCDNs,” Newman says. “To overcome this, overlay routing schemes and the ability to monitor, correct and reroute live streams will become a dominant requirement of multi-national customers.”

The potential threat of this need for universal delivery—at least to EVPs that only offer expensive, proprietary eCDNs—is that their solution may not offer dynamic reallocation or load-balancing capability that plays well with public CDNs or mobile networks.

Moving Beyond the Basics

MediaPlatform’s Newman points out there’s a practical benefit to upping video production quality and exposing additional analytics. The benefit is a renewed focus on generating quality content. But to get there, webcasters have to review the “game tape” to understand engagement.

“As our customers have become more mature and proficient webcasters, with confidence that their audiences are receiving high-quality video webcasts,” says Newman, “they are taking the next step to analyze and understand how watching those videos impacts engagement, performance, understanding, retention and more. We’re on the threshold of significant innovation,” he continues, “and the metrics we need as an industry to connect video viewing with specific employee outcomes.”

This move back to basics, at least in terms of content, is possible only if the table stakes in analytics—and accurate ones, at that—rise to a consistent level across EVPs.

If anything, audience sentiment is possibly more important within the enterprise or organization than it is for the general retail consumer market. After all, with some companies challenging their employees to do more with less, this places an obligation on the company to provide needed training and corporate communication—coupled with at least near-real-time sentiment analysis—for all of its employees, not just a chosen few.

[This article appears in the March 2019 issue of Streaming Media Magazine as "The State of Enterprise Video."]

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