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Panelists: Streaming Isn’t Easy

1 Nov, 2012 By: Chris Tribbey

CENTURY CITY — Mark Taylor, VP of media and IP services for communications technology company Level 3, has a simple “three strikes and you’re out” rule for streaming media.

“[Consumers] will try buffering [content] three times before they’re gone and go elsewhere,” he said, speaking Oct. 31 at the Streaming Media West conference. “Say goodbye to those ad dollars.”

Consumers expect content to load, no matter what device they’re using, but making that happen is beyond complicated, Taylor and other panelists relayed.

Barry Hartman, senior product manager for Adobe, said he sees some content providers who are dealing with close to 20 different encodes for every piece of video, to make sure the content works across platforms. And even that’s not enough sometimes.

What works for one Android-based smartphone won’t work for another, and the video quality meant for a tablet won’t work for a 60-inch HDTV.

“You’re going to have a subset of customers who have a negative experience,” Taylor said.

To fix that, multi-system operators and content providers need to do incremental testing even after they put the product out there, according to Michael Dube, manager of systems integration and operations for HBO.

After the content is delivered, the work isn’t over, Dube added.

“One of the pieces of advice I’d give to a new [over-the-top content company] is offer something different,” he said.

Dube pointed to the iPhone application offered by KTTV, the Los Angeles Fox affiliate, which gives users maps, traffic and more, along with the standard video.

Taylor said he was most impressed with what MLB has done with its TV everywhere content, offering interactive features and an immersive consumer experience.

“Do something to make the [offering] sticky; provide a deep content experience,” said John Liveries, VP of distribution counsel for A&E Networks.

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