For anyone that is part of the video universe, the key question that remains open, is what drives value in this brave new world. How can publishers, advertisers, and technology enablers make money in a world in which delivery (CDN) is commoditized, display opportunities are abundant, and audiences expect to get everything for free?
As 2009 unfolds, three things about online video become clear:
- With over 17 Billion monthly videos watched in the US alone (according to comScore) and steady month-over-month growth, video is here to stay.
- Video exhibits classic long-tail distribution — while YouTube remains the dominant player, video is rapidly moving from destination-sites to the rest of the web, and from Media and Entertainment into the enterprise, with millions of sites streaming video as the new mode of communication.
- The conversation is shifting from the technological aspects to the value aspects: not how to build a player or convert between formats but, rather, how to foster audience engagement, drive business values, increase collaboration, and monetize these billions of streams.
Where Open Source Video Enters the Picture
Open Source video is a development methodology and distribution strategy which allows publishers to focus on innovation, instead of replicating the efforts of others. Open source video is being adopted at every level of the ecosystem by industry leaders such as Akamai (CDN), Mozilla (Software development and support for open formats), Wikipedia (open video content), and of course, our company, Kaltura.
Its premise is simple: video is too important of a medium to be controlled by a single player; video today is part and parcel of any modern solution for enterprise collaboration, productivity, e-commerce, education, health care, or any other sector. By espousing the principles of openness at all levels, including formats, technology, and content, and by collaborating in the development process, video can enjoy the force-multipliers that we have seen in other areas, like open source software. The result is a better user experience, a reduction in the total cost of ownership, an increase in control and flexibility and a focus on innovative value-driven results.
A fully featured video stack – including content ingestion & transcoding, media management, hosting & streaming, publishing, syndication, analytics, monetization and more – is a very complex issue, which is unlikely to be achieved by a single company in one shot. Open Source Video offers an alternative. By creating a global community of developers—both individuals and corporations—who each focus on their own layer of the stack, and by then releasing all the code for free, Open Source Video promises a robust infrastructure that is at one and the same time easy to adopt, adapt, and modify, and cheap to deploy and operate. Developers enjoy full flexibility and an open framework to innovate and customize their own solutions while leveraging the community’s work, and enterprises benefit from economies of scale – low CDN costs, a network of syndicated content, and value-added services.
There is a ton of activity around open source video today. We at Kaltura together with our partners PCF, Yale ISP, iCommons, Mozilla and others, have instigated the Open Video Alliance (OVA), an umbrella organization for stake-holders who share the vision and believe in the future of open source video. The OVA is centered on raising awareness and developing standards that promote open source video and coordinate members’ activities. Other initiatives in the market include Akamai’s Open Player and Adobe’s Strobe, as well as several other Open Source Video Player and transcoding projects.