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16 Days, Another Billion Streams Served

There is no singular sporting event that captures the world's attention quite like the Olympics.  And... there is enough data to show that the 2012 Olympic Games attracted the largest aggregate online audience ever for a sporting competition.

Of course, with an event that spans more than two weeks with hundreds of competitions from athletes from all corners of the globe, it is no wonder that total online viewership would break records.

Add the fact that there are more devices and means for consuming sports and entertainment than ever before - with the tablet increasingly finding a spot as a second screen while watching TV - and we can all comfortably surmise that the London Games were experienced by more people than any preceding Olympics in history.

On Akamai's global platform alone, we delivered more than one billion aggregate video views (a milestone we believed possible before the games started).  We saw a staggering increase in mobile video traffic for an online event.  And when all was said and done after the Closing Ceremonies in London, Akamai had delivered almost double the amount of total traffic for a one-time event over a record we set two years ago.

For many, the summer Olympics serve as guide posts in our memories - every time they roll around, we're four years older, but are reminded of unbelievable moments from Olympics of the past: Nadia Comaneci's perfect 10s, the Dream Team and, most recently, Michael Phelps' eight gold medals in 2008.

But we need not look back to ancient Greece - or even the 1970s, for that matter - to appreciate how much our viewing of individual events has evolved over time.

Think back just four years ago: Twitter was in its infancy, Facebook could only be accessed via a browser and the tablet as we know it was a thing of the future. For London 2012, every second of the Olympics experience will be broadcast digitally. Users will be able to watch "whistle to whistle" coverage of their favorite athletes, events and more. That's 2,500 hours worth of swimming, diving, running and jumping available on any device, anywhere, any time.

Since the conclusion of the Beijing games, we've officially entered what we call the age of the "Instant Internet," which comes with it expectation that the content we're looking to consume is completely uncompromised on any device, any app, anywhere. And, with the anticipation that this will be the first billion-viewer Olympics, this expectation will prove to be tested like never before.

--For a behind-the-scenes look at the technology that made the Vancouver Games tick, check out this short video: http://youtu.be/VINct4MyFrQ--

Akamai solutions from Sola Media, Aqua Mobile and Kona Security will be in place to ensure live and on-demand content gets delivered to viewers around the world across all major platforms, including iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Connected TV and Xbox, among others. And these aren't passive viewers, either. As online formats allow users to access streaming video and data simultaneously, user engagement with major sporting events like this one is going through the roof. According to Canadian broadcaster CTV, the average online viewer of the last competition in Vancouver watched 56 minutes of content per day. How much will that increase this year? That remains to be seen, but we are surely in for an exciting ride.

So, tell us, what's your favorite summer Olympics memory and what events are you looking forward to in 2012? What's your viewing strategy for the London games and how does this differ from years past?

We look forward to reading your comments, and please continue to visit this space throughout the month ahead for some additional Olympics-related content.

Troy Snyder is Vice President of Ecosystem/Executive Producer at Akamai

The dramatic increase in quality of video content, combined with new technology that's ability to scale for television-size audiences online, has resulted in a growing TV revolution on the Internet. We've seen audiences on Akamai's HD Network grow dramatically to-date and we believe a 100X increase is possible in the coming years. Are you ready?

Yesterday, speaking at Brightcove PLAY, I outlined three mega trends that are helping to drive this TV revolution:

More premium content is moving online. To meet burgeoning consumer demand for high-quality content, producers and programmers are bringing more and more of their premium content online, via on-demand and live streaming formats.

Convergence of lean-in and lean back. As consumers increasingly seek an enhanced-TV experience, we see more and more people "co-viewing" across devices and not just choosing one screen size over another.

Widespread adoption of mobile media. The proliferation of connected devices is rapidly driving mobile media consumption. For example, according to one recent study, the number of streamed mobile TV users on smartphones will reach 240 million by 2014.

The combination of these three trends presents tremendous opportunities for media companies to better engage with customers at anytime, anywhere -- but you have to make it available to consumers who are expecting a TV-quality experience every time!

Gone are the days when online video was reserved for grainy, VHS-quality at best, user-generated clips of stupid pet tricks. Today's video is HD, personalized, and primed for monetization. It needs to look sharp, like the difference between these two clips: http://wwwns.akamai.com/brightcove/dog_redbull_oneclip_final.mp4

If you want to build a real business online with video, the path you need to take has come into sharp focus.

Paul Sagan is Akamai's President and CEO
 

Ready, Set, Play at Games on the Edge!

The online gaming industry has faced enormous change over the last few years - from digital distribution to internet-connected consoles to more mobile access of casual and social games.

There are 4 key trends creating change in the gaming industry and related eco-systems. First, digital distribution of games is going mainstream, and will likely become the only means of distributing games with the next generation consoles. Second, games are the most popular type of social app for people to interact with each other, which means almost every game has to support online gameplay and communities. Third, games have created one of the largest economies of virtual goods and microtransactions, with players buying, selling, and trading virtual property and paying for virtual property. And lastly, and this is an emerging trend, consumers want the right to play a game across multiple devices once they have paid.

Games on the Edge is a site featuring gaming-related content from leading global game publishers showcasing online delivery of game demos, game site content and game trailers leveraging Akamai's Intelligent Platform. These companies are on the cutting-edge of many of these industry trends. Visit the site to learn more about their games and vision. Hear game-related announcements and industry commentary from gPotato and Aeria Games on the Industry Voices section. Play games ranging from MMOs to Action to Adventure to Fighting to Real Time Strategy to Casual from Aeria Games, gPotato, Trion Worlds, mGame USA, OG Planet and Moviestarplanet.



The gaming industry is on the cutting edge for leveraging the latest technologies and business models, so it proves a great showcase for how these companies benefit from the various solutions within Akamai's Intelligent Platform across delivery, security, downloads and more. We invite you to visit www.gamesontheedge.com, play some games, and contact us if you have questions or comments.

Kris Alexander is Chief Strategist, Connected Devices and Gaming, at Akamai.

Do Analytics Need Your Daily Attention?

Weeding your lawn every year can seem daunting, time consuming, and when not done correctly, ineffective!  The same goes for analytics. With so many charts and graphs, you can get into data overload if you don't know what to monitor. Understanding the most effective ways to engage with an analytics tool will not only simplify matters, it can save you time and transform your business!  Depending on what type of publisher you are, monitoring audience behavior and quality of service are the two most important factors that analytics can help with.
 
Girish Bettadpur, Sr. Product Manager at Akamai, outlines a few ways to best capture the value of analytics in the below video, filmed at Kaltura's recent Connect Conference.

You'll hear best practices for:
•    how often to keep an eye on your site's analytics
•    how understanding analytics data can improve your video strategy, and,
•    market trends that influence and drive the need for analytics.

 

Noreen Hafez is Senior Product Marketing Manager at Akamai
The 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival has arrived....and if you don't find yourself in the South of France, sipping champagne and rubbing elbows with the elite, there's still hope for you to enjoy this year's event.

Screen shot 2012-05-15 at 10.30.45 AM.png

Daily on-demand video coverage and film trailers from this year's Cannes Film Festival to the Festival's global audience are available to the Festival's global audience at www.festival-cannes.com.

As Festival organizers embrace the digital age and all the opportunities it presents, fans and film enthusiasts can experience the atmosphere and excitement of the globally-recognized film festival alongside those actually attending the event. For the second year in the Festival's history, red carpet events, new films, movie trailers and related on-demand content will be offered via streaming to iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry devices across the Akamai Intelligent Platform's HD Network.  

Jennifer Donovan is Senior Manager of Public Relations at Akamai
It's no secret that the proliferation of new devices in the marketplace and the resulting platform fragmentation, has created numerous challenges for content providers who are trying to satisfy customer demand for anytime, anywhere access to content. In the last quarter alone Apple sold 35.1 million iPhones and 11.8 million iPads, while Samsung sold 46.9 million smartphones. Throw in Android tablets, RIM devices, desktop systems and laptops, gaming consoles and connected TVs; and it is easy to understand how providers are struggling to deal with the range of delivery formats. This problem is further compounded for those companies that need to distribute content securely. As it stands today there are also numerous DRM solutions on the marketing including Flash Access, PlayReady, Widevine, OMA and Marlin, adding cost and complexity for providers who are trying to figure the best way to address this challenge.

This sentiment was echoed at the recently held NAB conference, where providers indicated that one of the biggest growing concern for companies that need to securely distribute content to the widest number of consumers is indeed device fragmentation.

As the leading cloud platform for helping enterprises provide a secure user experience, Akamai has always been actively engaged in solving the most pressing challenges facing M&E companies. Our message to content providers has always been, "tell us your business model, the devices you're trying to reach, how you want to distribute your content, and we'll pick the best blend of technologies to help you achieve your goals and reach the widest number of devices possible."

Akamai has the same goal when it comes to content security. The reality is that the DRM market is going to remain fragmented for some time, which makes it important for companies to build a common layer for managing and deploying services across the various platforms. This ask is neither small nor cheap for providers, so we're working to create one standard product and interface using the Akamai Intelligent Platform that will interact with the DRM interface of our customers - helping them to distribute in any format they require.

At Akamai we're committed to reducing the complexities and cost for providers in an increasingly fragmented media universe, through the development of innovative technology and partnering with key players in the industry on the challenges that really matter for our customers. Akamai is a founding member of the DASH Promoter's Group, and we provide full support for UltraViolet and other emerging standards that require security for premium content combined with ease of use and a seamless consumer experience. This is an integral part of our efforts across the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) to continue the dialogue not just on security solutions, but standards, and together move the industry faster forward.

Shawn Michels is a Senior Product Manager at Akamai
The London Olympic Games are just around the corner. Akamai caught up with Brian Goldfarb of Microsoft Windows Azure Services to talk about the massive change since the last Olympic Games, device proliferation and consumer expectations

DASHing Into an Era of Convergence

San Francisco has a largely unknown place in the history of television. Back in 1927, on Green Street in the city, Philo Farnsworth had patented a method for showing moving pictures wirelessly. As a lone inventor, he was up against RCA, Westinghouse and Marconi. Each TV broadcaster at the time required a custom TV set to receive their signals. If you wanted to watch certain channels, you had to buy a set compatible with just those channels.

Skip forward ten years. Farnsworth prevailed in a decade-long legal battle with RCA but was never able to capitalize on his remarkable inventions (of which TV was just one of more than 300 patents issued). The broadcast signals were still incompatible. Reason prevailed finally in 1941 with the establishment of the NTSC standard, which harmonized all the broadcast formats at the time. NTSC was the foundation on which America's broadcasting industry and the behomoths of ABC, CBS, and NBC were built. 

Today, with streaming media, we find ourselves back in 1927. There are three main adaptive segmented formats - Apple's HLS, Microsoft's Smooth Streaming and Adobe's Dynamic Streaming. They are 80% the same, yet 100% incompatible. To view HLS, you must have a player for that format. For HDS, another player and for SmoothHD, a third.  This fractured delivery space forces encoders, delivery networks and client players to spread their development efforts across all these formats, forgoing optimizations that could be achieved by converging around a single format.
 
There is now a new streaming format on the block - MPEG-DASH. Not another format you moan - won't that make things worse? Perhaps not. DASH is different. Rather than being the proprietary solution of any one company, it is an international ISO standard, compiled by the Motion Picture Experts Group (the same people who brought you MPEG2 and MP4) and ratified as ISO 23009-1. It's goal, to continue our story, is to be the NTSC of the streaming world and to foster the same growth in the video-over-IP industry we saw in the broadcast world.
 
Here at NAB 2012, there is a good amount of chatter about DASH. Will spoke with Andy Plesser of BeetTV about DASH - watch the video here:
The purpose of DASH, which stands for Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP, is to provide a format to simplify and converge the delivery of IP video. As it gains wider adoption over the coming years, it will improve client and network interoperability, enable content providers to spend less time and money on backend compatibility and more on compelling content, support common encryption, and allow for streaming content to adapt to network and client health. DASH demo at NAB 2012.jpg
 
From my perspective, one of the exciting elements of DASH is its promise of convergence - particularly in this era of hyper-connectivity. Consider the range of devices currently in use today: you have PCs, TVs, laptops, set-top boxes, game consoles, tablets and mobile phones. To deliver content features to these devices, we need to add each feature for each type of device depending on what format is supported. Multiply that by all of the members of the content ecosystem and all of the potential features, and you can imagine the impact this matrix of inefficiency has on our industry. With DASH, you have a single format that can be supported across a common ecosystem of content and services, all the way from the encoder down the chain to the end consumer. The time/cost savings it presents will inevitably translate into an industry with a deeper feature set and a steeper innovation curve.
 
So while it's too early to tell if DASH will succeed in its goals, we at Akamai are excited about its promise for the industry. As members of the MPEG-DASH Promoter's Group (http://dashpg.com), we'll continue to push for its broad adoption.
 
If you're at NAB, come see me to talk more about DASH. I'll be at the Akamai booth (#SL8124) where we'll be showing live demos (see one now if you like http://tinyurl.com/dash4you ) of how DASH works over the general Internet. Faster forward!
 
Will Law is Principal Architect at Akamai.
We caught up with Will Richmond of VideoNuze yesterday at NAB to talk about the latest in innovation around new business models for the broadcast industry. Will talks opportunities, challenges and what the consumer wants in terms of accessing their entertainment libraries. Hear from Will on the below video!

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