Just over a week from now, Elemental will descend on the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC), one of the broadcast industry’s key events. Held in Amsterdam from September 10-14, thousands of companies, media and broadcast professionals from all over the world attend the convention. They come to see new technologies and discuss and debate industry trends at the show.
This year at IBC, it may seem as though Elemental is everywhere at once:
- Elemental will exhibit 2D and 3D video processing solutions in its booth (hall 13, stand 13.C25).
- At PNY/NVIDIA’s stand (7.J38), Elemental™ Live plays a key role in the Quadro Digital Video Pipeline, an end-to-end 3D solution for GPU-accelerated acquisition, processing and delivery of broadcast video.
- At HP’s stand (3.C10), Elemental Live will accept HD/SDI input directly from a live camera and encode multiple live streams with Dynamic Streaming for Flash and Apple HTTP Adaptive for the iPad and iPhone.
Visitors to all three Elemental locations at IBC are eligible to win an Apple iPad. In addition, visitors are sure to get a sense of the excitement about the future of video, including 3D video, mobile video and video on tablet devices – all representing the core Elemental vision of “Media Multiplied.”
Without a doubt, mobile video will be the subject of many conversations on the show floor. Consumers are beginning to demand more mobile content and new mobile devices are supporting higher quality video. Jupiter Research predicts that by the end of 2013, the global user base for mobile broadcast TV service is likely to exceed 330 million. YouTube has already crossed the 100 million mark for mobile video plays per day. This is nearly equivalent to total web video volume in 2006.
What is driving this adoption, and what do companies need to do to be ready for mobile video and TV content? From operators to content owners, various stakeholders have an interest in the process:
- Mobile video providers need to adopt advanced streaming techniques like adaptive bit rate protocols in order to provide the video quality that consumers expect.
- Operators need to increase network and bandwidth capacity to accommodate HD streaming video to mobile devices over wireless networks.
- Content owners need to migrate content libraries to formats compatible with mobile devices and wireless networks.
With mobile video’s potential to reach viewers anywhere and at any time, the stakes are high. Broadcasters and content owners that do not prepare to respond to this opportunity will be left in the dust as eyeballs move to mobile video, including broadcast TV content.
We fully expect some fascinating discussions on this topic at IBC.
The NFL kicked off its 2010 season Sunday night with the Hall of Fame game, bringing in impressive viewership numbers for NBC: the telecast drew an overnight rating of 7.6, up 31% from last year’s preseason opener. Thus continues the successful trend for sporting event broadcasts.
As The New York Times reported a few weeks ago, the experience of watching sports at home is now so good that teams are working to find new ways to keep fans coming to games (you mean to say Mullet Night isn’t doing the trick anymore?). One solution: enhancing the video experience for those inside the stadium.
Watching a game from the comforts of home certainly has its advantages:
- Multiple camera angles, such as the Skycam, give the home viewer vantage points not available at a stadium;
- "Insightful" commentary from beloved play-by-play announcers shed light on what injury took Player X out of the game;
- Rewinding the live broadcast via DVR to watch that last highlight over and over. Fans at the game get one or two chances to see a replay. That is, unless the replay is controversial: then they don't get to see it at all;
- Not having to pay how much for a ticket to the game?
With television ratings continuing to climb and NFL attendance down 3% since 2007, teams are increasingly challenged to attract people to live events. The New York Giants and New York Jets are answering with a unique video experience of their own at the New Meadowlands Stadium...perhaps better than the one viewers can get at home. The stadium plans to offer fans “free smart-phone applications that they can glance at to see video replays, updated statistics and live video from other games.” If you want to check out these applications, you’ll need to be in attendance: they only work inside the stadium. But how are fans supposed to stream video when it’s hard enough to get service to simply make a phone call at a game? 500 wireless antennas have been installed at the New Meadowlands Stadium to take care of that. Add this to the 2,200 televisions with 48,000 square feet of screens now in place and that’s one significant investment in video.
Don’t expect television networks to roll over, though (3D, anyone?). Our eyeballs, whether at the stadium or in front of the TV, are worth too much to the brands that want our business. Media distribution has gotten to the point where in some ways, virtual reality has trumped “actual” reality. But hey, as long as this means new and better ways to watch our favorite teams, fine by us!
Today is an exciting day for everyone here at Elemental, and really, for anyone with a stake in the future of online and mobile video delivery. This morning we announced that Elemental has raised $7.5 million in Series B financing led by Steamboat Ventures, joined by our existing investors General Catalyst Partners and Voyager Capital.
So coming up on our fourth birthday, there are many reasons to toast the future:
1. Our new VC partners: Steamboat Ventures is the ideal fit for Elemental. As the venture capital firm affiliated with The Walt Disney Company, Steamboat Ventures invests in early- to mid-stage, technology-focused companies pursuing opportunities in emerging digital media and consumer technology markets.
Scott Hilleboe, Managing Director at Steamboat, joins Elemental's board, bringing significant media experience and a Harvard MBA to the table. Besides Elemental, he is currently an investor in EdgeCast Networks, Kyte, MediaBank, and MerchantCircle. Scott’s prior investments include Quigo (acquired by AOL), Fastclick (acquired by ValueClick), and PopularMedia (acquired by StrongMail).
2. Working on cutting edge customer applications: Just last week, ABC News launched its newest app for the iPad. Featuring the iconic ABC News globe as a whole new way to interact with and experience the news, it is already the most popular app in the iPad App Store (as of yesterday), and has been featured on Good Morning America.
Elemental Server is being used to encode all the video being distributed in the app, and from what we've heard, the ABC team has been seeing 5x faster performance than their existing video infrastructure. At this rate, my kids will bypass the remote and go straight to flicking through their favorite shows with a touch of their finger!
3. Expanding horizons for video (everywhere): As soon as you close a round of funding the inevitable question is, "What are you doing with the money?" I've been telling people, "the same thing we always do: invest wisely and focus on first-class service for our customers." Elemental’s unique technology is perfectly suited to help content owners and distributors efficiently process video for delivery to an ever-expanding array of viewing platforms and devices.
While up until now we’ve primarily focused on North America customers like CBS Interactive, News-Press & Gazette and ABC News, we intend to expand our business to international markets in the coming quarters with our Elemental Live and Elemental Server solutions. To this end, this year will be the first time we have our own stand at the International Broadcasters Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam (Booth 13.C25). If you are going to be at the show, drop us a line!
We’ve got a long way to go, but having Steamboat at our side will make navigating the choppy waters of building a great company a little smoother.