The Streaming Media 100: The One Hundred Companies that Matter Most in Online Video in 2012
We run a number of recognition programs here at Streaming Media. Our annual list of All-Stars recognizes the people who have been and continue to be most crucial to the development of the industry, or who have done something particularly exceptional in the preceding 12 months.
Our Readers' Choice Awards ask our readers -- the end users of the technologies, products, and services that have driven the online video revolution -- to select the tools that they find help them best do their jobs or, as consumers of video content, deliver them the best experience.
Those programs are each several years old, but our third program, the Streaming Media 100, has already become our most anticipated in only its second year of existence. Recognizing the 100 companies that our editorial and publishing staff feel to be the most important in the industry, we hope the list helps separates the fly-by-nights from the ones with staying power, and the has-beens from the veteran companies that continue to innovate and grow not just their customer base but the industry as a whole.
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Because the companies in our industry run the gamut from entrenched, publicly traded entities to nimble young startups, we don't set any revenue or sales requirements to be met. We do, however, solicit companies in the space to share with our editors crucial information about their business, some of which is not for public knowledge. Such information, however, helps us make a more informed selection, rather than simply going on buzz or rumor.
Last year, we cast a wider net, believing it was important to recognize broadcasters and "old guard" content publishers who had made inroads into the online video space (or, perhaps more to the point, had responded quicker than others to the fact that online video was encroaching upon their space. This year, we've kept the list focused only on companies for whom online video is in their DNA, even as the lines between it and broadcast have become more blurred. Still, it's impossible to argue the importance of the elephants in the room, and not to acknowledge them would be as foolish as including them seems an obvious choice.
We once again faced the question of how to best present the list -- a single list of 100 or a list broken down into particular categories. That proved to be an easy question to answer, however, as we eyed up the prospect of evaluating end-to-end solution providers and pigeonholing them into a single subset of their business. We thought it would be better to continue acknowledging them as companies and let our readers pick the individual solutions in our Readers' Choice Awards. The awards will be presented at Streaming Media West at the end of October and published in the December/January issue of the magazine.
Finally, we don't rank the companies, though we did use a ranking system in our voting process to arrive at our final results. We asked all our judges -- regular contributors to the magazine and website, named at the end of this article -- to help generate a shortlist. When they were done making their recommendations, we had more than 200 companies up for consideration. The judges then were asked to vote on each of those companies, using a ranking scale of 0 ("has no business being on the list") to 5 ("no list would be complete without their inclusion"); judges could also select "no vote" if they simply didn't feel they had enough information to warrant them expressing their opinion.
We wound up with only eight companies earning a total ranking of 4 or higher and fewer than 20 receiving less than 2. In the end, no company made the final 100 with a rank of less than 2.67. All of this is to say that both the shortlist and the final 100 were, I think, a balanced, well-rounded bunch. The list is presented alphabetically.
With that said, some interesting trends are apparent. Clearly, the biggest emerging technology is the growth of cellular bonding/multiplexing solutions for delivering content from the field in areas where satellite uplink or Wi-Fi are too unreliable. Surely this year's Olympics had something to do with that, providing an ideal environment in which those technologies were applied in various scenarios. Of the companies that weren't on the list at all in 2011, those from this category are the most notable.
And while this niche application certainly made its mark, equally notable is the number of traditional hardware providers that this year redefined themselves as systems providers. More and more, content owners are turning to companies that have established themselves in a particular area and looking for them to provide end-to-end solutions, though with the caveat that those solutions should also be available a la carte. Clearly, to continue to succeed in this space, flexibility and strong partner integration is paramount.
You might also notice fewer European-based companies on this year's list. That's because we've decided to give Europe its own list -- the Streaming Media 101 -- which we'll be announcing in the Winter issue of our European edition of the magazine.
And finally, even though we list the chief officers of each company on the list, we know as well as anyone that it's a team effort that makes a company what it is. Likewise, it was a team effort that created this list, and I want to thank those Streaming Media contributors who helped me with the judging process:
You can see many of these companies and their products and services in person at Streaming Media Europe in London next week, Streaming Media West in Los Angeles next month, and at Streaming Media East in New York in May.
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