Tag Archives: Streaming

Unlikely Bedfellows as Net Neutrality Sunsets

Coupling Content Distribution (i.e. ISPs) with Content Producers

Verizon FiOS offers Netflix as another channel in their already expansive lineup of content. Is this a deal of convenience for the consumer, keeping consumers going through one medium, or is it something more?  Amazon Video iOS application offers HBO, STARZ, and others as long as Amazon Prime customers have a subscription to the Content Producers. Convenience or more?  The Netflix Content and Distribution via Set-top box (STB) channel should be mimicked by Google YouTube and Amazon Video despite their competing hardware offerings.  Consumers should be empowered to decide how they want to consume Amazon Video; e.g. through their Set-top box (STB).  However,  there may be more than just a convenience benefit.

Amazon Video iOS
Amazon Video iOS
Netflix on FiOS
Netflix on FiOS

As Net Neutrality fades into the sunset of congressional debates and lobbyists, the new FCC ruling indicates the prevailing winds of change.  We question how content providers, large and small, navigate the path to survival/sustainability.  Some business models from content distribution invoke Bandwidth Throttling, which may inhibit the consumers of some content, either by content types (e.g. Video formats) or content providers (e.g. Verizon FiOS providing priority bandwidth to Netflix).

Content Creators / Producers, without a deal with ISPs for “priority bandwidth” may find their customers flock to ‘larger content creators’ who may be able to get better deals for content throughput.

Akamai and Amazon CloudFront – Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) may find themselves on the better end of this deal, almost as a side-effect to the FCC decision of nixing Net Neutrality.

Amazon CloudFront a global content delivery network (CDN) service that securely delivers data, videos, applications, and APIs to viewers with low latency and high transfer speeds. CloudFront, like Akamai, may significantly benefit from the decision by the FCC to repeal Net Neutrality.

Akamai’s industry-leading scale and resiliency mean delivering critical content with consistency, quality, and security across every device, every time.  Great web and mobile experiences are key to engaging users, yet difficult to achieve. To drive engagement and online revenue, it’s critical to optimize performance for consumer audiences and employees alike to meet or exceed their expectations for consistent, fast, secure experiences.

Integrating into Content/Internet Service Provider’s Bundle of Channels

By elevating Content Producers into the ISP (distribution channel) Set-top box (STB), does this ‘packaging’ go beyond bundling of content for convenience?  For example, when Netflix uses Verizon FiOS’ CDN for content delivery to their clients, will the consumer benefit from this bundled partnership beyond convenience (i.e. performance)?  When Netflix is invoked by a Verizon FiOS customer from their laptop (direct from Netflix), is there a performance improvement if Netflix is invoked from the Verizon FiOS Set-top Box (STB) instead?  Would these two separate use cases for invoking Netflix movies utilize two alternate Content delivery network (CDN) paths, one more optimized than the other?

As of this post update (12/26), there has been no comment from Verizon.

Amazon X-Ray Studios for Indie Movie Producers

I remember building a companion app for the Windows desktop that pulled music data from iTunes and Gracenote.   Gracenote boasts:

“Gracenote technology is at the heart of every great entertainment experience, and is supported by the largest source of music metadata on the planet..”

Gracenote, in conjunction with the iTunes API / data allowed me to personalize the user experience beyond what iTunes provided out of the box.   X-Ray IMDb on Amazon Video also enriches the experience of watching movies and television hosted on Amazon Video .

While watching a movie using Amazon Video, you can tap the screen, and get details about the specific scene, shown in the foreground as the media continues to play.

“Go behind the scenes of your favorite movies and TV shows with X-Ray, powered by IMDb.  Get instant access to cast photos, bios, and filmographies, soundtrack info, and trivia.  “

IMDb is an Amazon company, which in his infinite foresight, in 1998, Jeff Bezos, founder, owner and CEO of Amazon.com, struck a deal to buy IMDb outright for approximately $55 million and attach it to Amazon as a subsidiary, private company.

The Internet Movie Database (abbreviated IMDb) is an online database of information related to films, television programs and video games, including cast, production crew, fictional characters, biographies, plot summaries, trivia and reviews, operated by IMDb.com, Inc., a subsidiary of Amazon. As of June 2017, IMDb has approximately 4.4 million titles (including episodes), 8 million personalities in its database,[2] as well as 75 million registered users.


In Amazon’s infinite wisdom again, they are looking to stretch both X-Ray and the IMDb property to budding film artists looking to cultivate and mature their following.

Approach to Adoption of X-Ray IMDb  / Amazon Video

Amazon must empower artists and their representatives to update IMDb.  IMDBPro seems to enable just such capabilities such as:

Showcase yourself on IMDb & Amazon

Manage your photos and the credits you are Known For on IMDbPro, IMDb, and Amazon Video”
  1. How then is new media content, such as Actor’s photos, and Filmography [approved] and updated by IMDb.
  2. Furthermore, what is the selection process to get indie content [approved] and posted to Amazon video.  Is there a curation process whereby not every indie artist is hosted, e.g. creative selection process is driven by Amazon Video business.
  3. To expand the use of X-Ray powered by IMDb, what are the  options for alternate Media Players and Streamers?  e.g. is YouTube a possibility, hosting and streaming content embedded with X-Ray capabilities?  Does Amazon X-Ray enabled capabilities require the Amazon Video player?
X-Ray Current Support: Amazon Hosted and Streaming

X-Ray is available on the Amazon Video app in the US, UK, Germany, and Austria for thousands of titles on compatible devices including Amazon Fire Tablets and TV/Stick, iOS and Android mobile devices, and the web.    To access X-Ray, tap the screen or click on the Fire TV remote while the video is playing.”

Amazon X-Ray Studios, Video Editing/Integration Desktop Application

Indie producers may leverage X-Ray Studios to integrate IMDb overlay content to enhance their audience’s experience.   Timecodes are leveraged to sync up X-Ray content with the video content.

“In video production and filmmakingSMPTE timecode is used extensively for synchronization, and for logging and identifying material in recorded media. During filmmaking or video production shoot, the camera assistant will typically log the start and end timecodes of shots, and the data generated will be sent on to the editorial department for use in referencing those shots.”

All metadata regarding an Indie Video may be integrated into the video source / target file, and transcoding may be required to output the Amazon required media standard.

Amazon has slightly complicated the situation by creating an Amazon Web Service (AWS) called X-Ray which has completely no relation to the X-Ray service powered by IMDb.

Amazon could not be reached for comment.

2016 Olympics Rating are Down? Don’t Blame Streaming!

The 2016 Olympic opening ceremonies had just started, and I thought briefly about events I wanted to see.  I’m not a huge fan of the Olympics mostly because of the time commitment.  However, if I happen to be in front of the TV when the events are on, depending upon the event, I’m happy to watch, and can get drawn in easily.

As the Olympics unfolded, I caught a few minutes of an event here and there, just by happening to be in front of a TV.  Searching for any particular event never crossed my mind, even with the ease and power behind several powerful search engines like Bing and Google. The widgets built into search engine’s results showing Olympic standings in line with other search results was a great time saver.

However, why oh why didn’t the broadcasting network NBC create a calendar of Olympic 2016  events that can easily be imported into either Google Calendar, or Microsoft Outlook?  Even Star Trek fans are able to add a calendar to their Google Calendar for Star Dates.

Olympic ratings are hurting?  Any one of these organizations could have created a shared calendar for all or a subset of Olympic  events. Maybe you just want a calendar that shows all the aquatic events?

Olympic Team Sponsors from soda to fast food, why oh why did you paint your consumer goods with pictures of Javelin throwers and Swimmers, but didn’t put a QR code on the side of your containers that directs consumers to your sponsored team’s calendar schedule “importable” into Google Calendar, or Microsoft Outlook?

If sponsors, or the broadcasting network, NBC, would have created these shareable calendars, you now would had entered the personal calendars of the consumer.  A calendar entry pop-up may not only display what current competition is being fought, the body of the event may also contain [URL] links to stream the event live.  The body of the event may also contain links to each team player’s stats, and other interesting facts relating to the event.

Also, if a Team Sponsor is the one creating the custom calendar for the Olympic Events, like USA Swimming’s sponsor Marriott , the streaming live video events may now be controlled by the Sponsor, yes, all advertising during the streaming session would be controlled by the the Sponsor.  All Marriott!  The links in the team sponsor calendar entries may not only have their own streaming links to the live events, but include any feature rich, relevant related content.

There is the small matter of broadcast licensing Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS)  and broadcaster exclusivity, but hey, everything is negotiable.  Not sure traditional broadcasting rules should apply in a world of video streaming.

All the millions sponsors spend, for an IT Project that could cost a fraction of their advertising budget, and add significant ROI, it boggles the mind why every sponsor isn’t out there doing this or something similar right now.  The tech is relatively inexpensive, and readily available, so why not now?  If you know of any implementations, please drop me a note.

One noted exception, the “Google app” [for the iPhone] leverages alerts for all types of things such as a warning on traffic conditions for your ride home to … the start of the Women’s beam Gymnastics Olympic event.   Select the alert, and opens up a ‘micro’ portal with people competing in the event, a detailed list of athlete profiles, including picture, country of origin, and metals won.  There is also a tab showing the event future schedule.

So Much Streaming Music, Just Not in One Place

In the old days, you never knew which CDs the record store would have in stock.  That limitation of physical media was supposed to be solved by digital. Back in the 1990s, technology evangelists and music fans alike began to talk about a “celestial jukebox” — a utopian ideal in which every song ever recorded would be available at a click.  In reality, even a celestial jukebox has gaps. Or more precisely, numerous jukeboxes have come along – iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, SoundCloud, YouTube – and each service has had gaps in its repertoire. And those gaps have been growing bigger and more complicated as artists have wielded more power in withholding their music from one outlet or another.

Source: So Much Streaming Music, Just Not in One Place – The New York Times

Additional Editorial:

Published music libraries are numerous, and have scattered artist coverage for one reason or another.  Music repositories may overlap, or lack completeness of coverage.

As expressed in “As a Data Deluge Grows, Companies Rethink Storage“, creating a system similar to the Internet Domain Name System for “Information Asset Libraries” would help in numerous ways.  Front end UIs may query these “Information Asset (object) libraries” to understand the availability of content across the Internet.

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical decentralized naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network.

Another opportunity would be to leverage the existing DNS platform for managing these “Information Asset Repositories”

In a relatively cost restrained implementation, a DNS type effort can be taken up by the music industry.  From artists to distribution channels, existing music repositories can be leveraged, and within months, a music aficionado may go to any participating platform, and search for an artist, title, album, or any other indexed meta data, and results across ‘Information Asset Repositories’ would be displayed to the user with a jump link to the registered information asset in the library.

Small independent artists need just populate a spreadsheet with rows that contain a row for each asset, and all the ‘advertised’ meta data.  Their Information Asset library may be a single flat file, i.e. XML, that conforms to a basic record/row structure.  The independent artist places this file on their web site, e.g. in their root folder, and informs their ISP of the address record type, and it’s location.  A new DNS record specification may need to be created, e.g. MX record.

Streaming Companies Provide their Platform to Content Creators

Streaming Platforms / Content Creators

Streaming companies enable content creators to use their well known, branded platforms to grow content author followings.  The reciprocal nature of the relationship creates an even broader customer base for streaming content platforms.

  • Direct competition with Google’s YouTube.
  • Microsoft to stretch SharePoint’s abilities re: video streaming, Video on Demand, and Broadcast Live, as well as it’s user licensing model, it could be another tool for entrepreneurs to offer any content creator a “Digital Entertainment Portal”.

Any content provider of digital media entertainment:

  • Broadcast Television Channels – e.g. CBS, NBC, SyFy
  • Independent digital media producers, e.g. currently using channels to reach a large audience, e.g. YouTube

The streaming company can create a portal wizard to build copy a streaming portal template.  The digital media producer uses web app widgets, similar to Microsoft SharePoint sites, to customize their portal to their digital media video/assets.  The Streaming “Portal” provider, as part of their service, handles the monetary transactions for customer subscriptions, or other business models supported.  In addition, the bandwidth load from streaming would be handled by the Streaming “Portal Provider”, a major benefit, leveraging the companies’ Content Delivery Network (CDN).

Anyone could apply for a partnership with the streaming company, and once approved, may use the tools provided by the streaming partner to spawn a new platform site around the customer/producer’s content.

This new revenue stream of streaming companies platforms, such as Netflix and Amazon Instant, may be vastly multiplied using a “Partner Portal” model.

Update 2/5/18

It seems that this path of content providers leveraging existing Portal Streaming companies has already begun:

  • Verizon FiOS embedding Netflix as a “Channel”
  • Amazon Prime (Prime Video) embedding CBS ALL ACCESS, HBO, STARZ, Showtime, Cinemax, etc. branded as “Amazon Channels”
    • Amazon has the capability to leverage their Amazon CloudFront (Highly secure global content delivery network (CDN))

At this juncture, no content on the “Indie” level being embedded in the Portal Streaming companies.  Looks like Google YouTube still monopolizes this space.

Since the original post date, CBS ALL ACCESS has been released, showing content providers, in addition to their own distribution channels direct to clients, will offer their content through 3rd party streaming portals as well…for now.  Maybe just for convenience because these streaming portals require subscriptions to the content provider in order to be served up.

Another post projecting the renaissance of streaming and content creation.

This post was from Dec 2014, but still very relevant today.

Media Companies (and Execs) in the Driver’s Seat for a Prosperous New Year

Abundant Content: Selecting Your Movie / TV Show is Burdensome

Although content is still ‘King’, the side effect of Streaming Services aggressively rolling out content makes the connection between the ‘ideal’ content and consumer burdensome to initiate.

Streaming Services create a ‘funnel’ to get ‘ideal’ content to the consumer through the use of custom carousels and search.

5 minutes max, I stroll around the Streamers’ carousels for random movies or TV shows that catch my interest.  If I don’t find anything worthy to commit my time, I bounce to another streaming service, and repeat the process.

The problem is compounded when you add broadcast Content Channels: ABC, CBS, Comedy Central, HBO, SyFy,  USA, etc, in addition to Streamers like Amazon Instant and Netflix.

The cost of making a decision of which Movie/TV episode to watch comes down to a basic Microeconomic theory.

In order for the consumer to make an accurate assessment of Opportunity Cost, one has to consider ~ALL available options.

Therefore, the cost of making a decision is inefficient, and most importantly inaccurate due to the amount of Video On Demand, (VOD) repositories available to the consumer.

Opportunities to Curtail Consumer Search Time:

  • On demand chat with a Genre Aficionado, video or text chat, 24/7, an employee of the Streaming Service, or central service contracted to the Service.
  • More robust search that has the capacity to drill down on metadata.  E.g. Filter: N stars rating; Sort: ‘added’ date,
  • Add Closed Captioning  to Search metadata
  • Add object and facial recognition index of objects to Search; Open and Play media at time code. E.g. Nike Sneakers
  • ‘Mad Libs’ style secondary search; fill in fields such as leading actor or actress, director of photography, etc.
  • Inbox – recommendations ‘people’ have sent you, manual and automated messages.  Queue up Search results to notify you once per week.  User may send a message with a link to a movie.
  • Cross Video On Demand (VOD) libraries Searching.  Industry Standards derived and implemented.

Entertainment Portals, and Opportunities for Target State

This posting is an assessment of the current state of entertainment portals, and opportunities for future, target states.  This post may be updated as additional portals are evaluated, and system capabilities are added. System capabilities listed maybe mutually exclusive.

Entertainment Portal Analysis in PDF Format

ENT Portal Delivery Model - Slide 1
ENT Portal Delivery Model – Slide 1
ENT Portal Delivery Model - Slide 2
ENT Portal Delivery Model – Slide 2
ENT Portal Delivery Model - Slide 3
ENT Portal Delivery Model – Slide 3
ENT Portal Delivery Model - Slide 4
ENT Portal Delivery Model – Slide 4
ENT Portal Delivery Model - Slide 5
ENT Portal Delivery Model – Slide 5
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ENT Portal Delivery Model – Slide 6
ENT Portal Delivery Model - Slide 7
ENT Portal Delivery Model – Slide 7
`ENT Portal Delivery Model - Slide 8
ENT Portal Delivery Model – Slide 8

Key to Success for Content Providers Offering Stand-Alone Web Subscription Services

CBS to Offer Stand-Alone Web Subscription Service – NYTimes.com.

The distribution channel must provide unique content through their channel or they run the risk of being a commodity rights owner that is only providing archived content.

Amazon brought it home for me when they hosted a single pilot produced by a partner production group. If the test markets had strong viewer ratings, more episodes can be ordered.

This will turn the dial from just an archive distribution rights platform ‘business model’, eventually a commodity, to a creative media value added service. This shifts the focus to creative content along the brand focus.

  • CBS produces or sponsors a pilot episode. CBS then advertises, short on air promos, web ads for the target demographic methods, etc. CBS gauges the popularity of the show. If market demand is strong, the provider can order more episodes.
  • Content providers can also provide unique content from their existing proprietary, content. ‘Web subscription only’ series episodes, available through their web subscription service.

IMG_0687.JPG

Netflix Brings in Unique Content through Brand Alignment Deals

It has been announced that Netflix will utilize several Marvel Comics / Universe content to broadly expand their unique streaming offering.  However, we will now look to see the new user interface to provide additional guidance for future potential content of it’s viewers.  A new Netflix user interface will guide your selection based upon ‘friend’ or ‘family profiles’ suggestions.  If this information is then aggregated by Netflix for Business Intelligence Analysis, we will see what content brands are requested most, by demographic categories, and then targeting these brands for acquisition of unique content deals.

Business Intelligence about our user’s content stream selections, in the aggregate, will drive future deals for unique content.

Google Chromecast Review – Watch CNET’s Video Review

Google Chromecast Review – Watch CNET’s Video Review.

Video Streaming from major distributors for 35 USD?  Wow!  Too bad not all TVs are equipped with USB, but close enough that all new TVs seem to have them.  My cable box has USB input, so I wonder.  Nah, probably won’t work.  Please Motorola?  Google owns Motorola and so, although enabled by the media channel distribution network, USB could be an easy sell to turn on, the cable box hardware manufacturer to the media channel distributor, e.g.  cable company. Oh, yeah, FYI – my cable box is made by Motorola.