The Most Important Companies in Online Video Tech
Welcome to the 2021 Streaming Media 50, our annual list of the most important, most innovative, and most interesting companies in the online video space. It’s the fourth year we’ve capped the list at 50 companies, because as the online video industry continues to grow, it’s more important than ever that this annual list highlights both the veterans whose staying power remains strong and the startups that we think have what it takes to stick around for the long haul.
Before we get to the list, a few qualifiers: As usual, we’re focusing almost exclusively on technology vendors, rather than content companies. This list has always been about recognizing the companies that enable video services to deliver great content to consumers reliably at the highest possible quality on every device and hopefully to make money from it.
Once again, this year, we took the video production segment of the market, the one covered by Streaming Media Producer, and gave that its own list. Look for the 2022 Streaming Producer 25 next spring.
Also, the Streaming Media 50 focuses exclusively on companies with headquarters in North America. Later this year, we will publish a similar list, the Streaming Media Europe 101, focusing on companies with headquarters in Europe. Of course, some companies have headquarters in both the United States and abroad; in those cases, we ask the company which list they want to be considered for.
So how do we arrive at the list? We ask our regular contributors to look at a master list of all of the vendors in the online video marketplace and rank them on a scale of one (doesn’t belong in the Streaming Media 50 at all) to five (no list of the most important companies would be complete without it). The top 50 make the list.
Notably, 15 companies that were on the 2020 list didn't make it this year. Some of them just aren't innovating or expanding their offerings, while others, frankly, are being outpaced by the companies that replaced them.
Without further ado, here’s the 2021 Streaming Media 50. Congratulations to all.
Tony Zhao, CEO and Founder
Agora's real-time engagement platform is built on the simple premise that voice and video is the next best thing to being there (apologies to ol' Ma Bell). Over the last18 months, the rest of the world caught up, and now the company claims its technology is used in more than 50 billion (!) minutes of human connection online each month. There's no going back now.
Tom Leighton, Co-Founder and CEO
Akamai was doing edge delivery before anybody called it edge delivery, but it's done anything but rest on its laurels. And even as it's expanded its purview to focus on ecommerce, healthcare, banking, and security for all industries, Akamai remains the go-to CDN for large-scale live events, like the delayed Euro 2020 tournament, which peaked at 34.9Tbps of traffic in July.
Baskar Subramanian, Co-Founder and CEO
The rise of free ad-supported TV (FAST) has been the biggest story of the year, and Amagi has been behind some of the biggest platforms on the market. The company has done so while maintaining its foothold in AVOD and D2C, with a SaaS offering, a fully managed service, or a unique "bring your own license" model.
Read Amagi Co-founder Srinivasan KA's View from the Top article.
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Adam Selipsky, CEO
Despite challengers, AWS is still the biggest cloud in the sky, and the company provides a soup-to-nuts suite of both cloud and on-prem solutions for video encoding, transcoding, packaging, delivery, and monetization. And with the announcement of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) VT1 instances for multi-stream live video transcoding up to 4K, customers have more options than ever before.
Read AWS for Media & Entertainment in Chief Technologist Eric Iverson's View from the Top article.
Stefan Lederer, Co-Founder and CEO
Bitmovin's customer roster reads like a who's who—BBC, fuboTV, DAZN, ClassPass, iFlix, Discover, Globo, and more—and with good reason. The company has grown from a scrappy Austrian startup into a major player, always putting video quality at the forefront of their encoding, player, and analytics offerings. Plus, their annual Video Developer Report is a must-read for those looking to get a handle on the state of video engineering.
Jeff Ray, CEO
Sometimes a rebranding is just window dressing. Other times, as with Brightcove's new look for 2021, it's reflective of something deeper. After a couple of rough years, the company has both built on its reputation as the original online video platform and expanded into the virtual event space at a time when such solutions were desperately needed. Along the way, it's built an impressive customer roster of brands, bands, universities, and OTT platforms.
Christopher Levy, Founder and CEO
BuyDRM was acquired this year by French cloud computing provider OVHcloud. That will expand its reach, but it had already passed a massive milestone in 21, reaching 50 million licenses a day with its KeyOS Multi-DRM Platform. It also announced in March that KeyOS is available in Google Cloud, making it easier for companies in media, entertainment, and telecommunications to leverage the award-winning platform.
Comcast Technology Solutions
Ken Klaer, President
The solutions side of Comcast Cable, Comcast Technology Solutions offers a full suite of solutions targeting advertisers, content and streaming providers, MVPDs, and technology partners. This year, the company managed the multiscreen assets for NBC Olympics delivery of the Tokyo Games, and its integrations with industry-leading ad tech solutions gave it unprecedented reach.
Keith Zubchevich, President and CEO
With 3.3 billion sensors in video apps across the globe, monitoring 1.8 TRILLION events per day, Conviva justifiably calls itself "#1 in streaming analytics." In addition to helping its customers provide the best QoE and QoS to their viewers, the company also issues regular State of Streaming reports that provide invaluable insight into viewing experiences worldwide.
Martin Rogard, CEO
DaCast has been on the Streaming Media 50 since it was the Streaming Media 100, making its first appearance in 2012. It's tempting to call the company "the little engine that could," but that would undersell the fact that it works with plenty of big-name broadcasters, brands, enterprise, and education clients for both live and on-demand video. Plus, the company's blog is one of the most useful in the business.
Read Dacast CEO Martin Rogard's View from the Top article.
Rob Friedman, Co-Founder, Vice Chairman, and Executive Vice President
As we explore elsewhere in this issue, OTT is now a truly global proposition, and Digital Element's IP geolocation services are perfectly suited to a video world that, for licensing, advertising, and DRM reasons, still needs to respect national borders. Plus, when it comes to targeted advertising, the company's NetAcuity IP Intelligence allows marketers to deliver down to the ZIP code.
Dolby Laboratories, Inc.
Kevin J. Yeaman, President and CEO
Like we said last year, "Dolby is the David Bowie of streaming tech companies, focusing equally on sound and vision." For the Streaming Media audience, the company's Hybrik media processing offers some of the best transcoding and quality control around, and its Dolby Vision is the industry leader. And if you haven't checked out the spatial audio with Dolby Atmos on Apple Music, you're missing out.
Michelle Munson, CEO and Founder
Michelle Munson has always been on the cutting edge of online video technology (she led the team that created the FASP protocol), so it's no surprise that she and her company are out front with a decentralized platform that features content control, ticketing, and e-commerce based on blockchain. Want to sell NFTs with your video content? Yeah, Eluvio does that, too.
Greggory Heil, Founder and CEO
Encoding.com is about lots more than encoding and transcoding these days. This year, the company's emphasis has been on cloud media processing workflows, and customers like WarnerMedia and Adobe are among those that turned away from hardware. It's clearly the wave of the future, and Encoding.com is riding it.
David Eisenbacher, Co-Founder and CEO
EZDRM is at the forefront of not only multi-DRM but educating the market about its value, including partnering with Streaming Media for a content and revenue protection research report this year. What's perhaps most compelling, though, is the company's commitment to every type of content protection application, no matter how esoteric.
Read EZDRM Co-founder & COO Olga Kornienko's View from the Top article.
Joshua Bixby, CEO
Fastly didn't invent edge delivery, but they've quickly become one of the leaders in the space. The company has scaled up to more than 145Tbps capacity and more than 800 billion requests a day, and their developer tools and dashboard are second to none.
Tom Schaeffer, CEO
A speaker at one of our Streaming Media Connect events said it best: "If content is king, then user experience is the castle." Float Left has always led with its user experience innovations, and today powers more than 450 apps on 10 different OTT platforms.
Maksim Lapshin, Founder and CTO
This British Columbia-based company has flown under the radar for a while, but not anymore. From its popular Flussonic Media Server to its hardware Coder to its Flussonic Watcher IP camera provisioning and recording solution, it offers a wide range of solutions for an equally wide range of streaming video applications. Keep an eye on this one.
Sundar Pichai, CEO
It was only a matter of time before the Google Cloud CDN became a key player in the content delivery market, and that's just what's happened in the last year. Add that to the other media storage, processing, and workflow tools in Google Cloud, throw in a little Chromecast, and a pinch of Google TV Ads, and you've got a complete set of tools for OTT.
Mirko Wicha, Chairman, President, and CEO
Combine best-in-class encoders like the Makito X4 and the Secure Reliable Transport (SRT) protocol that Haivision invented, and you've got a low-latency combination that's hard to beat. And while enterprise and broadcast streaming get most of the attention, Haivision's place in both medical and defense streaming sets the company apart.
Patrick Harshman, President and CEO
The sponsor of our Spring 2021 "State of Streaming" survey continues to expand its offerings for cloud broadcast and streaming, garnering customers from sports leagues to NASA. And if you're looking for a cloud broadcasting solution that makes it easy to spin up pop-up channels, look no further.
Talal G. Shamoon, CEO
One of the founders of the Marlin platform, Intertrust clarified its value proposition in 2021 by breaking out ExpressPlay into its own business unit. ExpressPlay offers multi-DRM, watermarking, security, and offline DRM, and is working hard to position itself for the HbbTV/ATSC 3.0 world of the future, where broadcast and streaming finally converge.
Dave Otten, Co-Founder and CEO
No longer just a little video player company, JW Player now offers a whole package of solutions from streaming and monetization to audience engagement and, yes, the most popular video player in the world.
Ron Yekutiel, Co-Founder, Chairman, and CEO
I first encountered Kaltura when they spoke at Streaming Media East, where Ron Yekutiel dazzled the crowd with a free online video platform. Oh, how far the company has come. Today, it's one of the biggest video platforms in the world, and this July went public with a valuation of $1.24 billion.
Bob Lyons, CEO
Perhaps sensing that its offerings were getting a bit long in the tooth, Limelight Networks shook things up in 2021, naming a new CEO and re-evaluating just about everything. The company doubled-down on its Realtime Streaming service, offering one of the largest ultra-low-latency content delivery platforms in the world.
Malik Khan, Cofounder and Executive Chairman
Since its acquisition of Make.TV in late 2019, LTN Global has both deepened and expanded its offerings to bridge the gap between broadcast and streaming in a way no other company quite does. And by breaking its ecosystem in to four clear segments—Create, Command, Signal, and Transport—it brings a big broadcast philosophy to OTT and social streaming alike.
Jeffrey Storey, President and CEO
Lumen brought together CenturyLink, Level 3 Communications, and Streamroot to create a telco-CDN powerhouse, but it’s still the company's Vyvx Broadcast Solutions that brings it back to the Streaming Media 50 year after year.
Allen Broome, CEO
MediaKind is all about large-scale live streaming, and this year it promoted Allen Broome from its R&D division to the top job, signaling that it's not going to let that reputation slip. "Live streaming without limits" is the company's new slogan, and with Broome at the helm, you can be sure that's the vision.
Satya Nadella, CEO
You might not hear the word "Microsoft" and immediately think "video," but the company's Teams, Dynamics, and Power offerings are behind some of the biggest live streaming workflows in the business. In a recent discussion, one of Microsoft Media & Entertainment division's executives compared the company to the old BASF tagline: "We don't make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better."
Richard Blakely, CEO and Cofounder
Looking for latency less than 500 milliseconds? Then you're probably looking for WebRTC. And if you're looking for WebRTC, chances are good you're looking to Millicast, whether directly or via partners they provide their white-label solution to.
Jon Dahl, Co-Founder and CEO
MUX is a video developer's idea of what a video solutions company should look like—no fancy UIs or flashy website. Just the APIs and analytics tools for geeks to build great video experiences. This year, the company also made the leap to low-latency, interactive live streaming.
Read Mux Co-founder & Head of Developer Experience Matt McClure's View from the Top article.
André Kudelski, Chairman and CEO
Video content protection and security is just a small part of what parent company Nagra Kudelski is all about, but the company's digital TV division has been quietly expanding in the U.S. and worldwide, helping traditional pay TV providers re-invent themselves for a multiscreen, IP-based world.
Roy Reichbach, CEO
"Real-time streaming" is a misnomer, but I've long given up fighting that battle. And Phenix—whose URL is "phenixrts," with the "rts" standing for "real-time streaming"—is one of the reasons why. With latency less than 500 milliseconds, the company powers interactive streaming experiences that let viewers get as close to the action as they can without being in the stadium.
Read Phenix CEO Roy Reichbach's View from the Top article.
Alon Maor, CEO
Israel-based Qwilt raised eyebrows with a $70 million investment from Cisco, but it just emphasized how committed the company is to "build one of the world's largest high-performing content delivery networks," as it said in the press release announcing the funding. We'll see if it gets there, but if Cisco is on board, that's saying something.
Read Qwilt CEO & Co-founder Alon Maor's View from the Top article.
Abdul Rehman, Co-Founder, CEO, and CFO
The company has broken out its SSIMPLUS offerings into three categories—VOD Monitor, Live Monitor, and Video Quality Dial—to further its goal of bringing the best video optimization and quality assurance tools to market, not only for OTT but for broadcast and cable as well.
Read SSIMWAVE CEO and Co-founder Dr. Abdul Rehman's View from the Top article.
Christopher (Kip) Turco, CEO
A Stackpath-sponsored Streaming Media survey called "2021 Content Delivery & Edge Compute Trends" found that edge compute has yet to take hold, but Stackpath is on the vanguard of the trend. In addition to its own platform, the company offers the tools to help companies build their own edge network, setting it apart from its competitors.
Richard Oestereicher, President and CEO
Streaming Global's concept of a "video pipeline" is unique, enough so that it raised $8 million in funding this year to advance that vision. Its software-defined agile transport approach rethinks the typical client-server workflow, and if you haven't checked it out, you should.
TAG Video Systems
Tomer Schechter, CEO
TAG's software-platform brings all QoS monitoring functions (yes, I get tired of all the acronyms, too) under one roof. And not just for OTT—customers include NBC, CBS, BBC, Sony Pictures, and HBO.
Read TAG Video Systems Zer0 Friction Officer Kevin Joyce's View from the Top article.
Dan Castles, CEO
Hardware, software, cloud, on-prem, live, VOD—Telestream does it all. And they do it well. They just keep building, too, acquiring asset management firm Masstech Group and live event hosting platform Sherpa Digital Media in 2021. No doubt we'll see more growth in the next 12 months.
George Bokuchava, Co-Founder, CEO, and President
Tulix has grown from being primarily a CDN to focusing on solutions that help broadcasters of all sizes—fitness studios, houses of worship, and schools, as well as "traditional" broadcasters—get their video to their viewers. They're not one of the bigger companies on the list, but they treat every customer like a big 3 network.
Read Tulix Co-Founder and CEO George Bokuchava's View from the Top article.
Amedeo D’Angelo, President and CEO
Verimatrix offers watermarking, authentication, and multi-DRM solutions, as well as a wide range of payment and analytics features that set them apart in the content protection field. The company didn't make any major advancements in 2021, but sometimes slow and steady wins the race.
Read Verimatrix SVP, Global Marketing Jon Samsel's View from the Top article.
Anjali Sud, CEO
Vimeo has gone from being a higher-quality alternative to offering a comprehensive set of solutions for corporate and marketing streaming. Robust live streaming and collaboration tools augment the company's well-established video management platform, and monetization features round out the mix.
Michael Hallén, CEO
So what's a Norwegian company doing on this list? Simple: Vizrt owns NewTek, and NewTek's NDI has revolutionized how video gets captured, distributed, and edited, and it's well on its way to supplanting SDI as the transport method of choice for video producers who are increasingly working in remote, distributed teams.
Sean Doherty, CEO
Wurl started with a simple premise: Video distribution and advertising services should be combined into a single solution. So the company brings together content companies and advertisers, monetizing the former while providing reach to the latter. And as FAST channels multiply, Wurl is behind many of them.
Victor Peng, President and CEO
With apologies to Rolaids, how do you spell field-programmable gate array? X-I-L-I-N-X. The company that invented the FPGA continues to innovate, and its Zynq UltraScale integrates both H.265 and H.264 4K codecs on a single chip.
Yahoo Edgecast (formerly Verizon Media, Media Platform)
Jim Lanzone, CEO
You'd need a flow chart to keep track of who's who and what's what at Yahoo, formerly Verizon Media, owned by Apollo. But you don't need one to know that the Edgecast delivery network and distribution platform remains one of the most agile in the streaming industry.
Read Edgecast GM and CPO Ariff Sidi's View from the Top article.
Joe Zhu, CEO and Founder
Yet another edge delivery company? Yes, but Zenlayer offers both dedicated bare metal servers and edge data centers, as well as a global accelerator and the ability to build a cloud network. Plus, a significant number of its edge points of presence are in APAC, giving it the, ahem, edge for delivery to that region of the world.
Gordon Brooks, Executive Chairman and CEO
Zixi made its name with its proprietary live video transport protocol, but today it offers much more than that: a complete software-defined video platform that works with any protocol. And its ZEN Master control plane offers a single portal to configure, orchestrate, and manage the entire system.
Read Zixi SVP Alliances and Marketing John Wastcoat's View from the Top article.
Eric S. Yuan, Founder and CEO
Zoom completely revolutionized the world of video conferencing and collaboration, leaving established players like Skype, Google, and Microsoft scrambling to catch up. They're working on it, but Zoom is still far and away the leader, and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.
Ed Laczynski, CEO
Zype offers an end-to-end video management and distribution infrastructure for delivering video to all platforms and devices. Yeah, I know, you've heard that before. But Zype's video connectors offer an intuitive, simple way to target video apps, making it stand out from the pack.
Five solution areas are key for media and entertainment companies: content production, media supply chain & archive, broadcast, D2C & streaming, and data science and analytics
Elevating the consumer experience to the highest-level possible requires deep insight into quality, metrics and issues; data that was previously beyond the reach of operators. Thanks to TAG's Realtime Media Platform, however, that data is now accessible.
Dacast is expanding its highly scalable infrastructure to provide multi-CDN delivery to help deliver high-quality content to viewers worldwide, including in China.
Content will always be king, but user experience—from personalized streams to personalized advertising—is becoming nearly as important in attracting and retaining viewers
Qwilt is scaling fast, well on the way to reaching 200Tbps global capacity with its Open Edge Cloud, based on Open Caching, and customers like BT, Verizon, TIM Brazil, and Telecom Argentina are embracing the new content delivery model
Viewers have shown that they have huge appetites for content diversity. Success in delivery in the direct-to-consumer environment means being able to consistently meet viewer experience targets so that viewers keep tuning in and your business runs profitably.
Software-defined and virtualized workflows provide a degree of responsiveness that is impossible to replicate in any other manner. For that reason, we are seeing more and more large-scale media enterprises pivot towards increasingly end-to-end cloud-based workflows.
Free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) is the cure for subscription fatigue, and Amagi is just what the doctor ordered
Security is becoming multi-dimensional. The gold standard of DRM is now frequently used in conjunction with watermarking, geo-fencing, etc. to offer a fuller envelope of glass-to-glass protection, a trend that likely will accelerate as integration standards become normalized and costs are driven down by robust, cloud-based service options.
This last year, video became a crucial component of every major business across the world, and even as things return to normal, development teams need to find easy, scalable, and rapidly deployable solutions.
The chatter around whether or not WebRTC can scale should now be less about "can" it scale, but rather can "your" company make it scale? At Phenix the answer is a resounding yes.
Live linear channels have grown in number, as has the video quality they are delivering. And advances in hardware and software have reduced the cost of launching channels significantly.
Due to the growth in scope, frequency, and severity of cyberthreats, today's media and entertainment industry needs more security, not less. This can present a difficult choice for some companies—compromise your creative vision, or lower your security standards? We believe you don't need to sacrifice innovation for security—you can have both.
When the pandemic shut down schools, doctor's offices, retail, and concert and sports venues, video stepped in to keep teaching, patient care, business, and entertainment going. These solutions providers rose to the challenge, and in this year's View from the Top, they share their visions for the future.
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Companies and Suppliers Mentioned