Tag Archives | Streaming Media

Netflix Now the Biggest Bandwidth Hog in US

Just how big is Netflix right now? Pretty darn big, if you believe the results of a study by “intelligent broadband” solutions provider Sandvine. During peak times, its streaming service accounts for a staggering 29.7 percent of all downstream Internet traffic, Sandvine says.

By itself, Netflix exceeds traffic for P2P file sharing, Web browsing, and real-time communications. By specific source, it far outpaces BitTorrent (at 11 percent) and YouTube (10 percent). Guess Comcast was throttling the wrong technology, eh?

Put that in perspective — that means one out of every four packets headed to an Internet user’s computer is delivering Netflix content, a pretty stunning ratio. It also is the biggest contributor to all real-time entertainment traffic, which is about half of all downstream data being delivered.

Could Netflix be ready to become the iTunes of streaming? I think so–and it may be all the more reason why Apple may want to throw its own hat into the ring.

With ISPs moving lately towards bandwidth caps, I wonder how much longer this growth in traffic from Netflix will be allowed to last. Executives were up in arms a few years back about how BitTorrent was clogging their pipes, but now it seems as if legal content is what’s now the biggest threat to bandwidth. Ain’t that ironic?


HBO Go Service Enroute to Mobile Devices

As the rush to put video on mobile devices continues, HBO will apparently be throwing its hat into the ring next month, if a YouTube teaser video from the cable channel is any sign. The HBO Go service first debuted in April 2009, and has slowly been expanding its breath of programming, although you’ve had to visit the HBO Go website.

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YouTube to Expand Live Programming–Gradually

Looks like YouTube is set to take on services like UStream, Justin.TV, and the like — it announced its roll out streaming capabilities to its platform on Friday in a blog post. Simply called YouTube Live, it marks the first time that its technology would be used for live streaming outside of one-off events.

Now don’t dump UStream just yet: “certain YouTube partners” are the first to gain access. YouTube says that the service will gradually be opened up to more and more partners, although it did not specifically say whether or not consumers would be able to use the live streaming. I’d venture to guess this is in the works, but obviously YouTube will need to make sure their servers would be able to handle the obvious extra load above their traditional video business.

Al Jazeera English has already been using this technology for at least two months now, helping that channel further reach US audiences that so far are still shut out by cable companies from being able to watch it on their televisions.

If you’re interested in checking out some live video on the site, head over to this page on the company’s website. Nothing too interesting so far– let’s hope that the company attracts some more high-profile content providers.

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Time Warner Drops Channels from iPad App, But Adds More

Last week, I wrote about Time Warner Cable’s increasingly bitter battle with cable operators over its new iPad app. Today comes news that while the company acquiesced to some demands, it still seems intent on providing live streaming of cable content to its subscribers.

Time Warner’s most vocal critics were Fox, Viacom, and Discovery Communications. On Thursday, the company removed their channels from the service, about a dozen in all — except for Fox News. Even though it took those steps, it added 17 new channels on Friday, thus increasing the overall number of networks available through the service to about three dozen.

Consumers are responding positively to the app: the company reports some 300,000 downloads in just the first two weeks of availability.

According to Broadcasting & Cable, the networks are NBC World, CSPAN, CSPAN2, CSPAN3, Chiller, Disney XD, ESPNnews, G4, HSN, IFC, Jewelry, QVC, Sleuth, SOAPnet, Style, Golf Channel and WeTV. It also included its local news and information channels NY1 News and YNN Austin in those markets.

It’s clearly a sign that Time Warner has no intention of backing down, meaning that we’re probably heading for a showdown between the cable provider and the networks. What remains to be seen is whether Time Warner’s move emboldens other providers to do the same. There’s always power in numbers.

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Time Warner, Networks Face Off Over Tablet App

Time Warner Cable is standing its ground in an increasingly bitter fight over its rights to transmit TV networks carried over its television service as it sees fit. The issue here is the company’s iPad app, which would all but turn the tablet into another TV capable of showing live programming.

This has the television networks in a tizzy, claiming that their contracts with the cable provider do not give it the right to essentially stream its content. About 32 cable channels are provided through the service, including MTV, HGTV, Discovery, and others.

Central to Time Warner’s argument is that the networks’ signals aren’t being just blindly transmitted over the open internet where anyone could attempt to snoop — the 21st Century equivalent of stealing your neighbor’s cable. Instead, it says the signals would be transmitted over its own “secure network.”

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AirPlay Coming to an HDTV Near You?

Bloomberg is reporting that Apple may be about to allow streaming media directly to HDTVs. The company’s AirPlay technology allows iTunes audio to be streamed to devices that support the technology, but it is apparently considering adding streaming video to the platform. This would then be licensed to third-party set manufacturers, Bloomberg says.

If things go as Bloomberg’s sources seem to believe, we may see the first AirPlay sets later on this year. It would also be a bit unlike Apple to do so, since traditionally it has preferred to control the experience from top to bottom.

Such an expansion opens up a multitude of possibilities. For example, an iPhone owner would be able to stream videos stored on the phone to any TV with the technology with minimal setup–no Apple TV box required. It would also help Apple to extend itself from just a computer and gadget maker to a technology licensor, which can be even more profitable since there is little overhead to the sale of information.

Currently Apple is reported to make $4 from each device sold with AirPlay on it, according to the Bloomberg report. Technology is already there to allow streaming video, sources say, although licensees are not permitted to access it under the current agreement.

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Comcast Launching On Demand Online Shortly

comcastonlineAfter testing out its latest online offering with about 5,000 customers earlier this summer, Comcast is set to launch On Demand Online with all customers by the end of the year, the company is saying. As we reported earlier, the feature would work much like Hulu does although it would be available only to Comcast subscribers.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Comcast has struck deals with about two dozen cable and movie channels to provide content. There is some bad news here though. You won’t gain access to the entire lineup of online content — only what is included in your package.

Either way, the move signals an effort by the entertainment industry to get a leg up on illicit distribution of programming. By offering the programming itself, and on-demand, the urge to run for BitTorrent and the like may be lessened for some.

Take the music industry for example. It decided to resist the digital movement, and ended up getting burnt badly. Only now is the industry beginning to gain some foothold in the digital world.


The Pirate Bay’s Next Target: YouTube.

vblogoThe creators of the popular BitTorrent search engine The Pirate Bay have turned their sights on a new market: streaming video. The Video Bay aims to take on sites like YouTube and Hulu by offering pirated TV shows and movies through a web browser.

Right now the site is in a pre-launch test phase, and the creators warn that the site may not function at all. Indeed in our own tests we were unable to play any videos. However, if these folks are successful in getting the site off the ground, it could turn the entire industry on its head.

As it stands now, the content providers control how and where you view their content, and technological barriers prevent many from using pirated content. Simply put, the maze of compression and conversion tools, players, and file types are often too complicated for the average consumer.

The Video Bay would make all that unnecessary. All the user would need is a web browser — obtaining pirated material would be as easy as viewing a video on YouTube. That has to scare the entertainment industry.

Of course, the entertainment industry has already been working hard to stop The Pirate Bay, winning a $3.8 million judgement against its creators in April of this  year. It remains to be seen whether that may stop the group, but so far they remain defiant.


SlingPlayer Mobile: Coming Soon to an iPhone Near You

slinglogoSling Media’s Slingbox TV place-shifting box was meant to hook up with the iPhone. (Which is a self-serving thing of me to say–I own a Slingbox and an iPhone, and one of the things I miss about my old AT&T Tilt phone is the ability to watch stuff stored on my TiVo back home on it.) So I’m tickled that Sling is demoing an iPhone edition of its SlingPlayer Mobile software this week at Macworld Expo. It says it’ll finish it up by the end of this quarter. I’m a little worried about just how quickly streaming live TV over the iPhone 3G’s Internet connection will drain my battery down to zero–but I’m still looking forward to getting my hands on it.

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