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Live from Comic-Con with FUNimation Channel

The comics world is gathering in San Diego this week for Comic-Con® International and Akamai is excited to help FUNimation Channel stream live from the massive conference. Owned and operated by our partner, Olympusat Telecom, FUNimation Channel's originally produced entertainment news show, Random Pop: Live at Comic-Con, is live streaming July 18-20 from 12 PM-6:30 PM PST. The content is being delivered with Olympusat Telecom's OT Cloud and OT Connect services, which leverage Akamai's Sola Media Solutions suite of cloud-based content preparation, storage and delivery tools.
 
The live stream is available at www.funimation.tv.
Authentication for TV Everywhere is a complex challenge to solve if consumers are to enjoy seamless, user-friendly experiences that enable high-quality, premium content to be viewed across devices. It's a challenge that Akamai is addressing through our Sola Vision Identity Services, which our partner, Brightcove, has integrated into its Video Cloud online video platform.
Recently, Corey Halverson, Akamai's senior director of media products, joined Jeff Whatcott, Brightcove's CMO, and Phil Costa, director of product management, to discuss the TV Everywhere opportunity and how the two companies are working together to help make it easier for pay TV operators and content owners to deploy and manage such services. The conversation is captured in the video below.

Walking on a Wire

Discovery Channel's nerve-wracking "Skywire Live with Nik Wallenda" last Sunday brought new meaning to the term, "cable TV." The live television and online broadcast featured tightrope walker Nik Wallenda, a.k.a. "The King of the Highwire," traversing a 1,400-wide section of the Grand Canyon some 1,500 feet in the air on a two-inch cable.

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As pleased as Akamai was to help Discovery Channel deliver the live online video stream to viewers worldwide, we were far happier - and relieved - that Nik successfully completed the stunt without incident. Akamai worked with Discovery Channel to make streams from five different camera angles during the walk available to visitors to its Wired In multiplatform experience, which generated more than 2.1 million streams on Sunday and peaked at 322,000 concurrent streams.

Discovery Channel reported that the event was watched by 12.98 million total viewers and became the "#1 most social show across broadcast and cable in the U.S.," where it generated 1.3 million Tweets.

Chris Nicholson is a senior public relations manager at Akamai.

Rafael Nadal's unprecedented eighth French Open championship wasn't the only record set at Roland Garros last week. France Télévisions' live webcast of number one-seeded Nadal's semifinal victory over second-seed Novak Djokovic on Friday, June 8th, set new peak concurrent viewer and traffic records for the event on the Akamai Intelligent Platform. 

More than 126,000 viewers were simultaneously watching the four-hour match at one point, driving traffic to peak at 155 Gbps. Both figures mark new highs for France Télévisions and its delivery of the live online video broadcast of the French Open over Akamai.

Nadal.jpg(Photo: Susan Mullane, USA TODAY Sports)

France Télévisions used Akamai's Sola Media Solutions to live stream every match from Roland Garros to viewers in France and French territories watching on the website and through tablet and smartphone apps. Through a "multi-court" feature, viewers could choose to watch any match of their choice either live or on-demand. 

Supported by the Akamai Intelligent Platform, Sola Media Solutions enable the economic online distribution of content to the broadest possible array of devices, delivering rich, high-definition quality video to any device at broadcast-size audiences.

Chris Nicholson is a senior public relations manager at Akamai.

Xbox Reveal Sets Akamai Records

Last week's Xbox One Reveal event ranked among one of the most-watched live broadcasts that Akamai has delivered. A post on Xbox Wire notes that the event "nearly [doubled] peak traffic records and [eclipsed] concurrent viewership high-water marks set by events such as the 2010 World Cup, Royal Wedding in 2011, and 2012 election night."

Xbox also reported that more than 8.45 million people watched the Xbox One Reveal in the first 24 hours and Nielsen numbers indicated the SPIKE TV broadcast of the briefing was the #1 television show for Men 18-34 at 10 am on May 21.

For more, visit Xbox Wire.

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Chris Nicholson is a senior public relations manager at Akamai.

TV Everywhere Getting There

TV Everywhere (TVE) is still evolving, but progress is indeed being made, agreed Will Richmond, Editor and publisher of VideoNuze, Corey Halverson, product director of media business solutions for Akamai, and Brightcove's CTO for media and broadcast solutions, Albert Lai, during a panel discussion at the PLAY 2013 Brightcove customer conference this week in Boston. The timely conversation took place in the midst of news from both ABC and Turner about plans to live stream programming to authenticated viewers.

Richmond opened the conversation by soliciting a definition for TVE, which he said continues to mean different things to different people since Comcast and Time Warner first coined the term back in 2009. "TVE is TV business models meeting consumer choice and demand," according to Halverson, who noted that the concept can still be very confusing.

Lai stressed the central role of authentication in TVE, which is critical in granting consumers access to the content that is available to them. This requires relationships and clear agreements between content providers and operators to avoid potentially confusing situations. "I use DirecTV for my TV and Time Warner for Internet service. Who decides what content I can access?" Lai asked to illustrate the point.

"This isn't your grandmother's video streaming," said Halverson in explaining that TV Everywhere brings together numerous technology pieces to support transformative change in the TV business. Among those are ad pod management and advertising, which he called a treasure trove of interesting activity.

Video: Authenticating TV Everywhere

The complexities that come with building and operating TV Everywhere services have been well documented over the years. Making it easier is one of the key goals of Akamai's Sola Media Solutions. To that end, Brightcove, an Akamai NetAlliance Partner, recently announced the integration of its TV Everywhere authentication solution with our Sola Vision Identity Services. Joint customers can take advantage of the integration in their efforts to make premium video content available on more devices.

Akamai's Adam Greenbaum took a few minutes during the 2013 NAB Show to speak with Brightcove about TVE and how our customers can leverage the new integration. A senior product manager for TV Everywhere/Identity, Adam discussed TVE business strategies and the importance of authentication to extend content deals and monetize services.

Check out Adam's video below:

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Live Video Madness

Turner Sports has released a trove of statistics on video streaming from the opening week of this year's NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, which indicate healthy growth in live video streaming for the event across both broadband and mobile. Turner delivered what it called a record 36.6 million live video streams during the opening week of NCAA March Madness Live, doubling the 18.3 million live streams it delivered over the full course of last year's tournament.

The 36.6 million streams represented 10 million hours of live video, up 198% over the 2102 tournament. Unique broadband visitors watching live video increased 161% over last year to 4.2 million, while unique mobile app viewers rose 121% to 2.6 million.

Engagement went up as well, with viewers watching 105 minutes of live video on broadband and 61 minutes on mobile, a rise of 12% and 42%, respectively, over 2012. Interestingly, mobile streaming appeared to increase as viewers left their offices, having made up an average 46% of all live video streams on Thursday and Friday and 60% over the weekend.

Turner Sports also listed the five most popular games based on live video streams from last week:

  • Valparaiso vs. Michigan State - 1,844,000
  • Bucknell vs. Butler - 1,784,000
  • Mississippi vs. Wisconsin - 1,778,000
  • Albany vs. Duke - 1,488,000
  • Davidson vs. Marquette - 1,487,000

Four of the top five games started between noon and 1 PM on the East Coast. While it would seem to indicate that much of the viewing took place at work, employers can take at least some solace in the fact that employees in the eastern part of the U.S. were generally doing so during lunch hours. 

Somewhat surprising is that none of those top four games were necessarily nailbiters, with the average margin of victory being just over 11 points. The only close game - Marquette edging Davidson by one point - was fifth on the list and didn't start until 3:10 PM ET.

With the tournament field now whittled down to 12 after last night and the remaining games and the next round extending through the weekend, it will be interesting to observe how the combination of higher stakes but with fewer teams and games not being played during general working hours in the U.S. will affect streaming rates and viewing patterns.

Chris Nicholson is a senior public relations manager for Akamai.

Springsteen Drives 'Astronomical' GRAMMY Live Views

Funny that the man who once grumbled about "57 Channels (And Nothin' On)" would later be responsible for an unprecedented spike in online video views, a term that didn't even exist when the song was released in 1992. Yet that's what happened when Bruce Springsteen fans flocked in record numbers to watch the online broadcast of the MusiCares Person of the Year Red Carpet, the pre-cursor to the star-studded tribute to Springsteen that took place the Friday prior to the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards earlier this month. The red carpet arrivals were available for anyone to watch via GRAMMY Live, The Recording Academy's online broadcast experience, powered by Akamai and AEG Digital Media, which provided viewers around the world with access across multiple devices to exclusive, behind-the-scenes events surrounding the GRAMMYs.

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The Person of the Year Springsteen Red Carpet event views were astronomical, giving us the highest traffic rates that we've seen in the four years of GRAMMY Live for that event," said Paul Madeira, Executive Producer of GRAMMY Live and Senior Director/Producer - Media Productions for The Recording Academy. "That's a testament to Bruce and his legions of passionate followers."

MobileRider Gains Competitive Edge with Akamai

The eyes of the extreme skiing and snowboarding worlds will be on Vail, Colo., and Kirkwood, Calif., starting today for the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships and Swatch Freeride World Tour 2013 presented by The North Face. Viewers around the world will be able to enjoy live HD streams of both events on Internet-connected devices thanks to Akamai partner, MobileRider.

Experts in delivering live and on-demand content over the Internet and across multiple platforms, MobileRider uses Akamai's Sola Sphere content delivery platform for all of its live and on-demand video requirements, from action sports events like snowboarding, skiing, surfing and paintball, to major concerts and artists such as U2, Madonna and KISS. For the U.S. Open and Freeride events, MobileRider is deploying turnkey packages that include satellite transmission and encoding, delivery, and media management that support the quality, custom look and functionality that content owners and viewers have come to require and expect.
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Satellite antennas and moguls at the FIS Freestyle International at Utah's Deer Valley.

"Akamai gives MobileRider a competitive edge," according to Noah Hollander, the company's COO. "We went through a long and arduous search for a strategic content delivery partner, and discovered that Akamai's innovation is helping us offer the best possible services to our customers."

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