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Generic Media Unveils Live Streaming

Generic Media announced on Tuesday that it was showing off live webcasting in its Media Publishing Service. It also announced improvements to its service, a new customer in Japan, and more wireless support.

Generic Media’s publishing service allows content providers to provide one high quality audio or video file and have it transcoded and delivered on the fly, depending on the users’ format and bit rate. The addition of live services allows the company to broaden its reach into the webcasting market. Previously, Generic Media’s only supported on-demand streaming.

According to Generic Media (www.genericmedia.com) President Peter Hoddie, this also allows webcasters to start streaming live with essentially no infrastructure. "You can get started with a laptop and a camera," said Hoddie. Webcasters simply have to send a single live feed to Generic’s server farm in Silicon Valley, where it is streamed to end users.

"This changes how you do live events," said Hoddie.

In the trials, Generic uses standard RTSP and RTP feeds, which include H.263 and QuickTime. Customers can use Sorenson’s Broadcaster software for Windows platforms or Channel Storm’s LiveChannel for Macs. Hoddie said that trials have been performed using 300Kbps, so customers won’t need satellite connections or T1 lines to do live streaming.

"Webcasting is quickly becoming an essential communication tool for many organizations," said Moti Krispil, CEO, Channel Storm, in a statement. "Our Live Channel software offers complete television studio functionality, and an ease of use never seen before. Using Live Channel, anyone can easily produce and broadcast live programs. Combining the Live Channel software with the Generic Media Publishing Service webcasters have a compelling, effective and affordable solution to communicate their message to the widest possible audience."

Additionally, Hoddie said live webcasts take advantage of its publishing service, which can stream it out to any format or bitrate. Hoddie also pointed out that for many live events, master tapes must be encoded into different formats, which can take hours or even days to accomplish. Generic’s live service allows customers to save one master file to Generic’s servers, with instant access to on-demand content.

With live events, however, there’s always the problem of scalability, since many people will be connecting at one time. Although Generic Media’s on-demand service can handle a reasonable number of simultaneous users, Hoddie said that it is using delivery partners, like Akamai, to deliver live events. He said it was too early to talk about pricing, but said that the company wouldn’t be "scraping the bottom of the barrel" compared to other live webcasters.

Generic Media's live service is going on now, said Hoddie, with full availability by spring 2002.

Generic also announced updates to its publishing service including support for MPEG-2 files as streaming masters, as well as support for PocketPC devices and Palm handhelds. Video can now be delivered at up to 500 Kbps, which takes advantage of the quality of MPEG-2 video files.

In other news, Generic announced that it has a new customer, Nikkei, which is using the service to deliver original content from its various outlets. The streams are part of its newly-created Biz Stream section within the Nikkei Net website (www.nikkei.co.jp/stream).

In the wireless arena, Generic said it was supporting PacketVideo technology into its service, so customers can now stream content across the NTT DoCoMo FOMA network and onto media-enabled 3G cellular phones.

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