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4 Trade Show Streaming Trends for First Half of 2015

July 15, 2015 by Chris Knowlton

Members of the Wowza Media Systems team spent a lot of time on the road in the first half of 2015, meeting, exhibiting, and presenting at many conferences, trade shows, and summits, including the following:

Each event we participated in had its own areas of focus, but collectively, a few trends were evident. 

1. OTT (over-the-top) video

Viewing third-party streaming media (especially premium video content) over data connections provided by cable, satellite, and telephone companies continues to grow in popularity. YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, Apple TV, Amazon Instant Video, Roku, and others have given us new ways to find and watch premium on-demand content well after its release date, but getting “live” or next-day access to most content has, until recently, required a subscription with a cable, telco, or satellite pay TV provider.

Announcements from HBO NOW and CBS All Access in late 2014 gave us two new network-specific options to address this, and CES got 2015 off to a strong start with the unveiling of Sling TV. This $20/month live OTT offering from DISH Network launched with 20 channels (and has many more now), and garnered 12 awards and top headlines during the show. There we also got our first look at the new Sony PlayStation Vue offering, which now provides up to 86 channels and is expected to roll out a la carte channel pricing this month.

CES is perhaps best known for new TVs and other home hardware. There were not only more Ultra HD–ready televisions this year, but also the streaming support and services you’ll need to receive and watch HD and Ultra HD streaming content. Examples include the new Netflix Recommended TV program; built-in streaming support (both hardware and software) in the new TVs, powered by the likes of Roku TV, Android TV, Tizen, and Firefox OS; and 4K content demos from Netflix, Amazon, M-GO, and YouTube.

CES, NAB, SVG, and many other events we’ve attended so far this year underscored that OTT—and more broadly, online video—is no longer considered a marginal phenomenon, but rather is a mainstream method of retaining existing customers and attracting new ones. Several of the conferences dedicated one or more all-day tracks to OTT. Almost everyone whose business is related to content, including producers, TV manufacturers, broadcasters, and service providers, seemed to be actively exploring streaming delivery technologies and business models.

2. Live event streaming

While neither on-demand nor live streaming is new, only with the widespread adoption of HTTP adaptive bitrate streaming in recent years have uninterrupted high-quality playback experiences been available to almost all viewers, even those with less-than-ideal bandwidth or older playback devices.

Streaming of live events is a great way to attract an audience using the power of “now.” Sports provide a great example of this, with each new playoff series (such as the recent FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 tournament) setting new streaming records for OTT or TV Everywhere (authenticated) viewing. The events we’ve attended have all highlighted live event streaming, often with a wide range of vendor offerings on the exhibit floors, and with live online streams broadcasting from most of the venues.

As a content producer, sharing your live event with others used to mean expensive gear onsite and dedicated transmission capabilities. Now you can broadcast live HD streams from anywhere using a wide range of gear, from professional 4K and mobile news cameras with built-in streaming (such as the JVC 4KCAM and ProHD lines) to your mobile phone (using mobile broadcasting apps such as Meerkat, Periscope, and Wowza GoCoder), and over whatever IP network is available, whether Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or cellular data connections.

3. Enterprise streaming upgrades

Many organizations have had traditional and sometimes proprietary streaming capabilities for many years—from the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, and RealNetworks. However, as the market has evolved toward common compression formats and highly scalable HTTP adaptive streaming in recent years, those companies have largely moved away from supporting their core streaming technologies.

The result? Enterprises are actively seeking new streaming solutions, both to replace existing technologies and add new capabilities, and many have been seeking us out at trade shows to ask what we’d recommend. For those interested in replacing core technologies, we can often help directly. Where integration with content or learning management systems (e.g., SharePoint, Blackboard), real-time collaboration solutions, or peer-to-peer streaming are required, we often point them to specific technology or EVP (enterprise video platform) vendors. (Interesting side note: Wowza powers or partners with more than 70 percent of the providers identified in Gartner’s Enterprise Video Content Management Magic Quadrant: Kaltura, Qumu, RAMP, and others.)

4. Cloud streaming services

Whether an organization is looking at bolstering its OTT, live event, or enterprise streaming, one increasingly common element is the willingness (or requirement) to use cloud-based infrastructure. It all boils down to economics: quicker prototyping, lower CAPEX, faster time to market, reduced labor costs, and increased operational agility all directly add to the bottom line.

Every event we’ve attended this year has featured cloud streaming in some way. We saw the most activity at NAB, which had two days of cloud sessions, new cloud-based streaming workflow and infrastructure solutions, and many demonstrations from players such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, iStreamPlanet, Aframe, and Wowza (including Wowza in-booth presentations and the Sony press conference at NAB).

We’re only halfway done with an exciting year in which streaming media is clearly a mainstream part of consumer life. We expect these trends and some of the other Wowza predictions for online video in 2015 (mobile, anyone?) to continue their forward momentum.

Got a comment? Drop us a line on Twitter @wowzamedia
Chris Knowlton

As a passionate evangelist for streaming media products, Chris Knowlton has spent 15 years working on technologies that make live and on-demand media delivery accessible. A recognized industry authority, Chris was honored in 2011 as a “Streaming Media All-Star” by Streaming Media Magazine, and holds several patents for streaming technologies.