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Beamr: 2017 Online Video Industry Predictions

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2017 will be the year of network-crushing video bandwidth growth. H.264 has peaked, and it’s time for HEVC to power consumer expectations for better quality. The uncertainty of HEVC licensing set the industry back in 2016. But with more than 40 million TVs in the U.S. capable of decoding 4K HEVC content, and tens of millions of mobile devices containing HEVC decoders, 2017 will be the year distributors deploy services using HEVC. The move to HEVC will have a positive effect of increasing network capacity 1.3x while enabling higher resolution and better image quality using HDR.

The opportunity for multi-service operators and companies launching virtual TV services is to leapfrog their competitors on the vectors of quality and user experience. With major media brands launching OTT TV services, to compete in the market requires more than content. You must deliver the highest quality video with an equally great streaming experience.

The question then is how these new video encoding and optimization solutions will be delivered? There is a move away from hardware to software, from dedicated products to componentized, using best-of-breed codec SDKs, muxing, packaging, and DRM solutions.

This trend is enabling faster adoption of technologies and applications, a key to maintaining a lead position in the market. Based on the work Beamr is doing with service providers, platforms, and video distributors, this is a universal trend that we are seeing.

If you have dismissed SDK’s, it may be time to revisit that decision. With virtual and cloud-based architectures it is becoming easier to create a custom video workflow for any application. Beamr has been at the head of this trend with our H.264 and HEVC codec SDKs that are in use by the largest and most demanding brands, streaming companies, and vendors in the industry.

See below for our interview with Sharon Carmel, as well as a trasncripte beneath the video window. See the rest of the 2017 Streaming Media Executive Predictions in the related articles below, or download the entire batch here.

Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: Hi, I'm Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen-Rasmussen. I'm the editor of Streaming Media Magazine and I'm talking today with Sharon Carmel who's the CEO of Beamr. How are you doing today Sharon?

Sharon Carmel: Excellent. How are you Eric?

Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: Good, very good. You wrote an article for the January-February issue of Streaming Media magazine, an executive prediction looking at what you think is going to happen in the next year or so in online video. But before we get into that could you tell our viewers a little bit more about Beamr in case they're unfamiliar with the company?

Sharon Carmel: Beamr was founded about seven years ago and our focus from day one was, basically to find a way to reduce video size within the standard without compromising on the quality. And the only way to do that, is basically, is to develop a perceptual quality measure that can measure the quality of the source and then apply compression up to the limit that will not degradate the image quality. And this is what Beamr developed for many years, starting with the standard of AVC and now applying the same thing for HEVC.

The results are pretty tremendous we are capable of reducing the video bitstream by up to fifty percent. That means that if you are dialing in, lets say, high-definition quality 1080p for AVC at four or five megabits. Beamr will make it, I would say, two and a half to three and a half megabits on the other end. And that's with the same visual quality, just smaller file size.What's obviously very important is that there's nothing needs to be done on the player end. So that it's fully standard; nothing needs to be updated on the decoder, on the application, on the transport. It's all happening in the encoding process and the rest is just, you know, to enjoy the reduced bandwidth, less buffering, and the same image quality.

Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: Great and you say in your article that 2017 is going to be the year of you call it "network-crushing bandwidth." Why do you think we are going to see such an increase in bandwidth this year and what can content publishers do about that?

Sharon Carmel: That's an excellent question and. I think that 2017 we're seeing a few phenomenas throughout the years I would say and 2017 may be the best year for 4K as we see the 4K video is coming out ... And I think just in the United States we expect ten million new 4K TVs to be sold only in 2017. And once you get that screen, you want to see Netflix in 4K. You want to see 4K content. Whether it's Amazon Prime, or Netflix, or anything else. So demand for 4K content is going to increase as the devices are supporting it and the bandwidth requirements even if you use the latest HEVC standard is going to be anywhere between two and three times higher in bitrate than standard 1080p video. So just think about all these residential houses occupying fifteen to twenty megabits for a stream. That's a lot. And we all know that this is not going to be the only screen being watched at the household but this one is going to consume a lot.

A second trend that we see is obviously a mobile. We see that mobile video is currently occupying also around seventy percent of the network traffic and this is just for short form video. So people wants to see longer-form video. They want to see longer content. They want to see TV series using their mobile devices and as the infrastructure is expanding and as the devices are more capable people are watching more video. And that's definitely increasing the traffic and you know, we have bigger screens, we have brighter colors. That requires more bandwidth in order to deliver a high quality image and again. HEVC as a standard is very important. but Beamr can add to that up to fifty percent of additional, I would say, efficiency in the encoding, keeping the image quality.

Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: You mention HEVC a couple of times. HEVC at this point has kind of been mired in some royalty and licensing issues. Do you think that's going to change and that HEVC will finally gain some traction in the next year or so?

Sharon Carmel: We all know that the terms were, I would say, argued as being too strict. I think that last year we saw at least HEVC Advanced coming with the royalty-free license for software implementation for the HEVC encoders and decoders, I think that that brings, pretty much, the royalty licensing to be very close, in terms of the terms, to AVC. Still, the royalty per device is higher than AVC but I would expect that as this is a very new standard. But in terms of a royalty free software implementation this is actually good news, especially for companies like Beamr, our implementation is software only, but also to others. I think the Facebooks and Googles of the world definitely can enjoy that and that means that each and every one of us that use them. So I can say that everybody can enjoy the latest terms of royalty free software encoding and decoding for HEVC.

Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: You mentioned the software solutions versus a hardware solution. How does the move away from hardware and dedicated products to software and sort of componentized products effect the way that video is being delivered today?

Sharon Carmel: We are great advocates of software solutions at Beamr. We think it keeps the flexibility of the service. Once you have a software implementation that means that you can change your workflows. You can add components to your workflow. You can upgrade your encoders and other services. Whether it's security, digital rack management. As long as all of this is done in software, the ability to update it and to make it better is much better, it's much faster, it's much more flexible.

For hardware solutions you gain the optimization of, you know, using less hardware resources, using less electricity, and maybe the total cost of ownership can be even smaller. But, you lose the flexibility.

I think that by going to a whole software solution. The diversity of the services, keeping them up to date with HEVC which is a young standard. And the next three to five years I definitely think that in terms of rate control and other additions and technologies such as Beamr will be applying software and that will bring a big advantage that when you look from a perspective of a total cost of ownership, you will see that actually a software solution will be, I would say, more effective in terms of total cost of ownership than a hardware solution for all of the reasons that I just mentioned.

So it will give you the flexibility, you will be able to enjoy technologies that , well actually, you cannot enjoy them when you are using a hardware solution, and these type of flexibilities are very important from the TCO perspective and also being competitive in the markets. So I think you know eventually there is no other way. We can see that the cloud platforms from AWS, Azure, and GCP, Google Cloud, you can see that these are growing very fast. I guess for a good reason.

Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: Right, right. Very good. Now getting back to Beamr specifically. What can you tell us about what Beamr has in store for the next year or so?

Sharon Carmel: Oh, I think that again in terms of HEVC related announcements and bettering our optimization capabilities, our performance, our speed—I think that you can definitely expect a very interesting announcement coming very soon. We are all going to be, or at least, a great crowd is going to attend NAB in Las Vegas and I think that there going to be a very interesting announcement coming from Beamr so please stay tuned.

Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: All right sounds great. We'll look for you in Las Vegas and thanks for joining us today.

Sharon Carmel: Thank you very much Eric.

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