Re-Writing Streaming Video Economics


The majority of Americans – make that the vast majority of American Millennials – stream video. Every day, in every way. From Netflix to Hulu, YouTube to Twitch, CBS to HBO, there is no TV experience that isn’t being accessed on a mobile phone, a tablet, a PC, or some kind of streaming device attached to a genuine, honest-to-goodness television.

The trouble is, we aren’t really paying for it: just 9% of a household’s video budget goes to streaming services, while the rest goes to all the usual suspects: cable companies, satellite providers, DVD distributors, and so forth. This can make breaking a profit a tricky proposition – Netflix just started to churn out ‘material profits’, Hlu is suspected to be losing money, and Amazon is unlikely ever to break out profitability of its Prime video service from the other benefits of the program.

The challenge is there are really only so many levers that can be pulled to make streaming video profitable:

  1. Charge (more) for subscriptions: except that when the cost goes up, adoption goes down, and decelerating growth is anathema to a start-up business
  2. Spend less on (licensing/making/acquiring) content: except that if the content quality misses, audience growth will follow it
  3. Spend less on delivering the content: except that if the quality goes down, audiences will depart, never to be seen again

One and two are tricky, and rely upon the subjective skills of pricing and content acquisition experts. Number three though…maybe there’s something there that is available to everyone.

And indeed, there is. Most video traffic these days travels across Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), who do yeoman work caching popular traffic around the globe, and doing much of the heavy lifting in working out the quickest way to get content from publisher to consumer. Over the years, these vital members of the infrastructure have gradually improved and refined their craft, to the point where they about as reliable as they can be.

That said, no Ops team ever likes to have a single point of failure, which is why almost all large-scale internet outfits contract with at least two – if not more – CDNs. And that’s where the opportunity arises: it’s almost a guarantee that with two contracts, there will be differences in pricing for particular circumstances. Perhaps there is a pre-commit with one, or a time-of-day discount on the other; perhaps they simply offer different per-Gb pricing in return for varying feature sets.

With Openmix, you can actually build an algorithm that doesn’t just eliminate outages; and doesn’t just ensure consistent quality; you can make decisions on where to send the traffic based on financial parameters, once you ensure that the quality isn’t going to drop.

All of a sudden you have access to pull one of the three levers – without triggering the nasty side effects that make each one a mixed blessing. You can reduce your cost, without putting your quality at risk – it’s a win/win.

We’d love to show you more about this, so if you’re at NAB this week, do stop by.

How To Prevent Network Fails in The Gaming Space

gaming-fail

When two Las Vegas Strip casinos lost power in early January owing to high winds, it represented a perfect metaphor for how much gaming businesses rely on something that is out of their direct control: the Internet.

Gaming continues to rely heavily on both large file downloads (for games sent to gaming consoles, for instance), and synchronous or near-synchronous communications (to enable multi-player action). When some element of the Internet goes down, or becomes so congested as to feel like it’s not working, the whole gaming experience can fall flat on its face – despite the provider having done everything in their power to guarantee a great experience. Meanwhile, the cost to provide great service continues to rise.

Well, nearly everything.

The Internet has evolved, and, while CDNs offer great value in reducing the consumer experience, it simply isn’t possible to serve a global audience with just a single CDN partner. Many Cedexis customers have as many as six to ten  CDNs, serving specific customer segments. By contrast, our first conversations with customers include them telling us that they are experiencing frequent outages and slowdowns, despite working with some of the best CDN providers in the world.

Here’s a number for you: 303. That’s the number of extra hours of downtime customers in Russia suffer using the 10th highest ranked CDN versus using a combination of providers, balanced with Cedexis Openmix (you can take a look at this by heading to our CDN and Cloud Performance Reports page).

Here are five specific hints for avoiding network fails:

  1. Know Your Experience: it’s easy to get caught up in server load, packet loss, and other technical terms – but it’s the human experience your players receive that defines their allegiance to your service. Your best indication that you’re meeting and/or exceeding customer expectations is by using Real User Measurements (RUM). Knowing what your players expect is a necessary data point for building something better.
  2. Know Your Calendar: every app that needs downloads will have scheduled updates. On those days, bandwidth needs will inevitably be higher, and even a distributed infrastructure that has been working fine up until now will be put to the test. If you have an upcoming release, this is the perfect time to bring a new CDN or two into the fold, and validate the impact of having extra partners to share the load.
  3. Know Your Location: every business needs to expand geographically – but every CDN isn’t equally robust in every location. Use a tool like Radar to evaluate your current partners’ results in new geographics – and take the opportunity to work with a local partner, who may be able to deliver better results at lower prices for a defined audience set.
  4. Know Your Capacity: many companies overprovision their datacenters, and actually have computing power and bandwidth to spare. If yours is one of those companies, consider introducing your own modest DIY CDN – that way you can get the most out of the technology you already have
  5. Know Your Numbers: every penny spent on delivery is a penny unavailable for other purposes. Look at your delivery costs, and ask whether there aren’t economic efficiencies to be found by working with more providers – lower base prices, say, or the option to offload peak traffic to avoid the always-maddening burst charges.

For more hints, explore the Cedexis website, or drop us a line.

And don’t forget to meet us at ICE Totally Gaming in London February 7 – 9.

Ice totally Gaming_signature - small

IBC 2016: the future of online video is at Amsterdam

Starting this Friday, thousands of video professionals will gather in Amsterdam for five days to talk about the future of video. Recording, hardware, delivery… and online video. If there is one trend to keep in mind year after year, it is the domination of online delivery strategies, as well as the proliferation of video in global Internet traffic.

IBC

Video QoS Metrics Premiere

As in previous years, Cedexis will be in Hall 14, dedicated to the future of online video. Cedexis will be showcasing the new abilities of its solution to monitor IP networks QoS for video:

Cedexis Buffer Killer.  We introduced this during IBC last year, and it has only gotten better. We will demonstrate the need for a new type of data, Video QoS Metrics, in your multi-CDN and multi-Cloud load-balancing strategies. Those new metrics dedicated to video QoS are:

  • Bitrate: the amount of data delivered to the end user per chunk (kbps)
  • Re-buffering ratio: the percentage of time spent waiting because of re-buffering (seconds)
  • Video Start Failures: the number of attempts to launch the video that have generated a failure (count)
  • Video Start Time: time spent before the video starts (milliseconds)
  • Response Time: response time calculated per chunk (milliseconds)
  • Throughput: observed throughput per chunk (kbps)

Those data are in line with HMTL5’s breakthrough for online video. Stop by view a demo at the Cedexis booth: Hall 14, Stand G17. Our partner Elemental Technologies will also display demos at its booth: Hall 5, Stand C80. Please feel free to contact us directly to set up a meeting at IBC, or visit us at the booth.

How Much Money Is Your Website Performance Costing You?

Hello friends. We are pleased to announce that Cedexis will be partnering with SOASTA to bring you a roundtable discussion covering recent research into the costs of poor website performance and the expectation of the modern web visitor has evolved.

If you’re interested in learning about:

  • How even slight web delays can lead to lost revenue
  • Understand how to use Real User Measurements to understand what’s not working & make that data actionable
  • What leading enterprises are doing to build high-performance sites

…then this is the event for you. Pete Mastin, Cedexis Product Evangelist, and Tammy Everts , SOASTA Director of Content, will be reviewing strategies and technologies to boost website performance, and show you how business KPIs can be used to ensure your site is contributing as much as possible to the bottom line.

This online event takes place Tuesday, Sept 20th and will be hosted by Aberdeen – the research group, not the Scottish city (though any region housing Balgownie Links is a place I’d like to visit).  Jim Rapoza, Sr Research Analyst from Aberdeen will be moderating.  Presentations will last approximately 30 minutes and there will be plenty of time for Q&A at the end.

This webinar is free as always.  For more detail & how to register, click here.  And if you want to learn more about Cedexis Openmix, which uses real-time data for global traffic management, click here.  Thanks for reading! Enjoy the roundtable.

 

 

Matt Radochonski is Cedexis’ Director of Demand Generation & Marketing Operations. He can be reached on twitter @MattAtCedexis or via email, and feel free to leave a comment below.

Europe: Seven Events to Meet Cedexis in June

It’s been a long time since we have since so many events during one single month. June shows us, if needed, that the digital economy is growing more and more. But this market is more and more competitive, too, which creates a need for its players to meet, share and talk as never before.

Cedexis is no exception. To the end of the month, we are going to attend, pitch or sponsor seven events in Europe. Talking about the digital economy future at Digiworld Future, meeting the Varnish community at VarnishCon Amsterdam, share with e-merchants in Paris or Amsterdam, showcase the best of the European digital tech at Viva Technologies Paris… You have many occasions to meet us in the next three weeks!

Event Place Date Cedexis participation More info
Digiworld Future Paris 14/06 Stand Digitalfuture.com
VarnishCon Amsterdam 17/06 Speaker Eventbrite
EBG’s annual conference Paris 21/06 Nominee Digital Innovation Prize EBG
E-Commerce Trophees Amsterdam 23/06 Nominee Trophees CFCI
Cloud Days 2016 Paris 23/06 Partners’ corner and pitch Cloud Days
Growing Businesses Paris 29/06 Nominee Trophee Website
Viva Technology Paris Paris 30/06-02/07 Stand Bpifrance Vivatech

Can’t make it to any of theses events? Drop us a few lines and we’ll arrange a meeting in Paris, London, Barcelona or anywhere in Europe!

IBC 2015: Do not forget the remote

There’s always the chance that you’ll get lost at the IBC trade show in Amsterdam. 14 exhibition halls with technologies ranging from shooting to distribution. Drones, optics, chips, storage, OTT delivery technologies, marketing, cameras, giant screens… You can walk for hours.

One device is almost everywhere, though. It is a small plastic device, covered with sticky buttons. It is used to present on large screens, and then disposed of again. Usually, you do not even think about it, but for some exhibitors at IBC, it is the show piece. You meet its picture on a huge wall, or admire it in a suspended transparent container. Either way, the remote control remains integral.

Let us reassure you: we are not talking about remote controls because of the exhaustion after three days at IBC. If we have decided to discuss it, it is not only because Apple now puts Siri’s ears in its TV’s remote. No matter the size of the screen or its resolution. No matter the power of the chip or the capacity of the network delivering the video. In the end, the remote control is the first thing an end user needs when it comes to watching a video. And the remote control defines a large part of this user’s experience.

When we launched our solution dedicated to monitoring and optimizing  video performance, nicknamed “The Buffer Killer”, we have spoken a lot about the gains for our clients. Better quality, 100% availability, increased performance… but do you really know what defines a successful user experience? Of course, because we all watch videos. Whether on an OTT box, a DVD player or the traditional television, we’ve all experienced the simple gesture of using a remote control.

The remote control is a very funny friend. Cruel, sometimes. 4K videos, shot by a drone, distributed via the best performing networks, with a huge bitrate, on the perfect screen… what if the batteries decide to go whimsical? Even worse, sometimes you’ll spend 15 minutes looking for the remote control under the sofa only to discover that the batteries need replacing! User experience, you wonder ?

How do you measure a good user experience when it comes to a remote?

  • Working. Always available, always working.
  • Simple. You do not want to read the manual. You want to get back to your habits in less than 30 seconds. The use must be perfectly transparent.
  • Performing. It must be able to send a signal to the box, without needing to measure the direction of the wind, when pointed at the receiver.
  • Reactive. To watch Channel 7, you do not want to push the button “7” five times.
  • Customized.  This is the main value add you can find in remote control vendors, assuming you do not want to use your provider’s cheap plastic device. You can use it to control several devices, access external services (Live TV guide on smartphone remotes for example), or even talk to it (“Siri, I want to watch an action movie”).

Of course, all of this is not inside the remote itself. With recommendation algorithms for instance, part of the computing and intelligence is outsourced to the distant device, or even in the cloud. But for the end user, the result remains the same: he has the remote in his hand.

This pretty long digression is interesting: it reminds us a few basic rules when it comes to video. It is a B2B market, or B2B2C for people like Cedexis. This is the reason why we have named our solution dedicated to video “The Buffer Killer”, rather than a more technical name (VideoLoadBalancer? VideoMix?). This does not however prevent us from analysing factors such as conversion rate, HTTP load balancing, Multi-CDN, etc. But for our clients’ clients, the interest of the Buffer Killer is not in its capacity to switch CDNs between two chunks. The end user judges it with his remote in hand: a bad experience, and he will go for another video, program, or channel.

So here are the benefits of Cedexis Buffer Killer for end users – your clients:

  • Working. Multi-CDN or Multi-Cloud load balancing guarantees 100% availability, meaning you are always delivering your content without disruption. No more battery whim.
  • Simple. As far as the end user is concerned, it is transparent.
  • Performing. Thanks to 6 billion performance measurements gathered every day by the Radar Community, your end users will always have the best performance available. The best bitrate, the best image quality… The best user experience available!
  • Reactive. HTTP load balancing is able to smartly switch Cloud, CDN or datacenter providers at the beginning of the video, or mid-stream. The Buffer Killer can switch providers between two chunks.
  • Customized. Because no platform is always the best performing everywhere in the world, for every end user, for any ISP, The Buffer Killer adapts to each end user in real time, depending of his situation.
You want to learn more? Come and meet us at the Amsterdam IBC tradeshow: Hall 14, Stand M33. Or you can go check our newly revised Video Solution Brief. And then? Just press ON.

IBC 2015: Cedexis Declares War On Bad Video Performance

From the halls of  the IBC Tradeshow in Amsterdam, Cedexis announces the official launch of The Buffer Killer, our solution for performance optimization of online video.

“To survive a war, you gotta…”

Buffering is the most frustrating experience a cinema fan can have while attempting to watch internet streaming video. Take Rambo 2, by George Pan Cosmatos. You are immersed in the movie, waiting with Co Bao for John Rambo’s fundamental Truth… when the buffering carousel interrupts the video. Frustrating, right?

What is John Rambo’s cult catchphrase under the light of a failed user experience? Would Shining‘s Jack Nicholson have been so frightening if he had only time to say “Heeere’s J…” before the fatal cut? And Neo, from The Matrix, would he have been able to solve the mystery if the telekinesist kid had only revealed that “There is no…” ?

Buffering, for the internet user, is nothing but loss of meaning, frustration, annoyance. But what about the content publisher? The video producer distributing his content via streaming? The online movie renter?

This failed user experience has a direct impact: bad results.

This is why Cedexis, specialist of measurement and optimization of performance for websites and mobile apps, announces an unprecedented solution dedicated to online video: The Buffer Killer.

Cedexis Buffer Killer is the first comprehensive solution of measurement and optimization of performance dedicated to online video producers and publishers. For our customers, it is the guarantee to get, at any moment, the best performance in video, whatever the country or the ISP of the end user are.

Among its most important innovations:

  • Traffic load balancing via DNS or via an HTTP API
  • Intelligent mid stream switching to the best performing provider during video viewing (dynamically between chunks)
  • Smart choice of the best performing provider at the beginning of the video viewing (via the manifest)
  • High performance, high availability and scalable HTTP API (that any video player can call for implementation)
  • Integration of the providers’ scoring in the load balancer’s algorithm (performance, cost optimization, etc)
  • Taking into account of the KPIs that matter for video (buffering, bitrate, ads displayed, client-side bandwith)
  • Data from the Radar Community, which gathers in real time more than 6 Billion of real end users data measures everyday, from more than 800 Cloud, CDN and datacenter providers
  • The Buffer Killer is ready for the next technical evolutions of video: 4K, mobile and fix networks convergence, any type of devices.

The clients who have tested Cedexis Buffer Killer have benefited from quality and performance gains:

Feedback from The Buffer Killer first users:

“Video performance is key to user retention. We use Cedexis Openmix to ensure our users are directed to the best performing infrastructure in real time, every time. We’ve seen a 65% decrease in buffering incidents since deploying Cedexis Openmix. These QoS improvements deliver better quality to the end user, resulting in incredibly low viewer abandonment rates.”

— Manik Bambha, Chief Digital Officer and CTO at Viewlift

“For PBS Digital, having 100% uptime and great performing video is critical. We implemented Cedexis specifically to improve our Video Quality of Service and it’s been a great decision.”

— Mike Norton, Senior Director of Technical Operations at PBS Digital

According to Julien Coulon, cofounder of Cedexis: “video is exciting, because of the specific performance challenges experienced by every online media site. Video represents the same hurdles that other online publishers have: exponential growth of the traffic, multiplication of devices with the need for guaranteeing delivery, networks congestion, etc. But it has additional challenges, thanks to the surprising innovation dynamic of the industry: 4K, new consumption models, always evolving delivery technologies. All this innovation is very interesting if it brings an improvement of quality for end users. Cedexis establishes that choices made about the network infrastructure do not have to be a restraint for video. The Buffer Killer makes Cloud, CDN and datacenters providers play in the same camp as video publishers.”


Come and meet us at IBC Amsterdam: Hall 14 Stand M33!

Want to learn more about Cedexis Buffer Killer? Come and meet us at the IBC tradeshow in Amsterdam before next Tuesday: Hall 14 Stand M33. And if you cannot attend, go check our newly revised Video Solution Brief.

#IBC2015: the heart of video beats in Amsterdam!

Here in Amsterdam, the anticipation of excitement that will be happening in a few days is palatable. A day before the official opening of the IBC, the main European event dedicated to technologies for video enthusiasts, we are seeing a lot of activity.

Back in Paris, the rumors are merely murmurs, but should swell quickly. In a couple of days, IBC will explode in Amsterdam with nearly 60 000 people, mostly professionals, with over 70% of Europeans (if interested, full figures are on the IBC website).

Another fun fact about visitors to this XXL sized lounge : 0.017 % of them come from… Cedexis. Ten people, some already in place in Hall 14 stand M33 will be proudly wearing the Cedexis colors. For five days, we will discuss video performance, evangelize on multi-CDN and multi-Cloud (a topic increasingly popular with video content distributors) and meet other enthusiasts and professionals.

We really really want to talk about our new Video solution. This year’s IBC is going to be a big one – Cedexis decided to improve video performance even more than it already does. The suspense is killing us, but we can’t reveal anything here. But…

We’ll talk tomorrow at the booth and in this blog. But to give a hint, here are some questions that Cedexis will try to answer in the coming days:

  • What is the best solution for measuring and optimizing video performance?
  • Buffering, advertisements displayed, time spent on site, pages viewed or watched videos … What measures and improves your KPIs?
  • How many commercials are too much advertising?
  • What performance metrics will your audience accept – and most importantly, how to retain that knowledge?
  • What to do when 70-80% of the latency comes from the networks, where you have no control?
  • Can I deliver my video content to my Indian and European Internet users with the same quality while controlling costs?

Sooo… Cedexis awaits you tomorrow morning at 10:30, opening time at IBC, Hall 14, stand M33 . You will also come across us in the aisles … and the stands of our partners Deutsche Telekom (Hall 14, Stand L24 and N28) and XStream (Hall 14, Stand F15).

And if you cannot come, do not be discouraged! Meet us here or on Twitter for all of our ads, photos and information about IBC . You can also follow the hashtag #IBC2015, already well supplied. Or go check our newly revised Video Solution Brief!

Cedexis at GDC 2015: its a battle zone!

Its a war zone here at GDC 2015. We would like to say Cedexis is just here to educate the gaming companies on the value of multi-homing its Cloud and CDN infrastructure. We would like to tell you that we have toiled endlessly evangelizing how Cedexis can provide the best cloud and CDN performance that can be had – while at the same time ensuring 100% availability. And we have done those things. But we have been a bit distracted defending our booth (thats booth 105 btw) from the endless hordes of monsters and solders. Here is our own Tom Grise defending the booth valiantly from an onslaught.

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Thankfully by the end of the day the Cedexis had the upperhand and we celebrated in the booth with our customers and friends. Man I wish I had a hat like that!

Pete-and-Customer-with-horns1

Come pay us a visit at booth 105 if you want to learn how to improve the performance of your web or mobile game! And bring a weapon!

****** UPDATE FROM GDC near the end of Thursday March 5th**********

Hostilities have seemed to have ceased and the natives are celebrating!

******** Update from the final day ***********

After the battle and celebration .. interpretive dance … . We look forward to #GDC2016!

Velocity, Surge, EuroCloud – Cedexis is everywhere!

Busy Busy Busy. Cedexis is very busy in September.

Here is what we are doing this week in Europe and the US:

Sep 16 — Eurocloud
Paris

Sep 16 — Velocity NYC
New York
Exhibitor — BOOTH 12

Sep 18 – Café Cloud Numergy (5ème édition)
Paris
Exhibitor with/NUMERGY

Then next week we are also hitting:

Sep 24 — OmniTI Surge 2014
Baltimore
Presenting and Exhibiting

Sep 23 — E Commerce Show
Paris
Exhibiting

Sep 30 — EuroCloud Congress, Luxembourg
Exhibiting

Come check us out. If you can make it to Surge you can even hear yours truly speak about Net Neutrality and some of the issues we see there.