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NAB 2018: Mux's Jon Dahl Talks QoE and Mux Video

At NAB, Jan Ozer met with about a dozen companies with stakes in HEVC and/or AV1. This is another in a series of video interviews he conducted with them.

Jan Ozer: I'm here at the Mux booth at NAB with Jon Dahl, CEO and founder. Why don't you start out by telling us what the first business you got in was, and how you're different from the other vendors.

Jon Dahl: The first thing we did was quality of experience analytics. We had a conviction that one of the biggest holes in the industry today is data. Too many publishers do too much without great data backing their decisions. We built Mux Data with that in mind. Our differentiators are accuracy and surfacing the most important data to our customers as quickly as possible. Rather than giving them dozens and dozens of charts that they have to pore through, we surface what is broken, what's good, in a single number as much as possible, while also giving people the ability to dive deep into the low-level data.

Jan Ozer: I looked at it. There's currently a tutorial from the Streaming Media Sourcebook [soon to be] up on StreamingMedia.com that I did with the help of some people here. What I found is the product was very easy to implement, and also, it had a great ability to dive down, and as you say, identify problems. 

Jon Dahl: I think we try to take a pyramid approach where, at the very top you get the most important information, but you can go all the way down to a full timeline of every individual video. You can see every event fired by every player on your platform at the bottom, all the way up to the summary at the top.

Jan Ozer: And where are you price-wise, compared to the others? 

Jon Dahl: We tend to be a little less expensive. One of our convictions is that price has actually held back this industry in terms of getting good, accurate data. And so we're cost effective, I would say.

Jan Ozer:You've got some pretty impressive case studies I saw.

Jon Dahl: We have some case studies out there with customers like New York Timesand Wistia, IGN, and some other good ones coming soon. And we have people seeing pretty significant improvements to their performance by using data to drive optimization.

Jan Ozer: When you say performance, what do you mean?

Jon Dahl: We define video streaming performance as having four attributes. One is, did the video play at all, or was there an error? Second is, how long did it take to load? Third is, did it rebuffer? And the fourth is, what's the visual quality of the video?

Jan Ozer: If you optimize that, what does that translate to for the vendors? Is that better retention? What's the benefit to them?

Jon Dahl: These areas of performance measurably correlate to watch time. People abandon video when they run into problems. Especially, just given how competitive video is today. You can usually watch the same video in multiple places today, even if you can't watch the same one, you can jump from one to another with not a lot of switching costs. Performance directly drives revenue for our customers.

Jan Ozer: Recently, within the last 6-12 months, you announced a second product. Tell us about that.

Jon Dahl: Our second product is called Mux Video. It's actually just two months old, so pretty new. It's an API for instant video streaming. We ingest video; we do a just-in-time transcode as users are watching, and make it available, optimized for every device. We're really trying to turn video streaming into a single API call, rather than having to build complex infrastructure to make video scale. It just works. But maybe the most important thing there is that it's driven by data. We're not just trying to make it easy; we're actually trying to do it better by dynamically optimizing how video streams, how it's encoded--all of those things using data.

Jan Ozer: What does that mean? Is it live, or VOD, or both?

Jon Dahl: It's both. VOD is in production, live is in development. But it's fundamentally both.

Jan Ozer: If I give you a soccer video, are you creating one encoding ladder and sending that. You talk about dynamic optimization; what is that?

Jon Dahl: Actually, we have some pretty exciting work that we're going to be announcing soon [see announcement here], where we will do dynamic encoding ladders based on the content. And we'll do it very, very quickly, that's because we're a just-in-time platform. We can publish a five-minute video in about three seconds. We don't want to slow that down with minutes or even hours of time spent creating a slow, complex encoding ladder.


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