You Stream, I Stream, We All Stream…

It wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if I were to tell you that streaming of video and music is taking up increasingly large chunks of bandwidth.  But you might be shocked to learn just how widespread streaming has become.

According to broadband services company Sandvine, streaming now accounts for more than 70% of all U.S. downstream traffic. And it’s not just the volume of streaming that’s so astounding, but the rapid rate of growth, as well: just five years ago, that figure stood at 35%. And as broadband adoption rates continue to steadily climb, there’s no reason to believe that the growth of streaming will slow.

The continued growth in popularity of both YouTube and Netflix have contributed mightily to this 70% figure. But relative newcomers Amazon and Hulu, still nascent in 2010, now account for nearly 6% of usage combined.

On the mobile front, video and audio counts for 41% of mobile traffic, most of that via YouTube. Social media—primarily Facebook and Snapchat—represents 22%.

With the continued critical and commercial success of Netflix and Amazon’s original programming, and the viewing public’s newly-acquired penchant for “binge watching,” expect to see these streaming numbers to continue to grow well into the foreseeable future.

I’ll Have Two Large Videos, Hold the Ads, Please

In a widely anticipated move, Google announced plans to launch a YouTube subscription service that would spare viewers from the advertising that appears both before and during selected videos.

(Google purchased YouTube in 2006 in a transaction valued at $1.65 billion.)

Dubbed “YouTube Music Key,” the service is designed to compete with companies such as NetFlix.

Pricing for YouTube Music Key will start at $7.99 per month, and, in addition to removing advertising, will also allow viewers to watch videos offline and listen to music while using other applications. Read more

Updates (Tesla), Happenings (Amazon), Taxes (Netflix), and TVs (Apple) – A Survey of Tech Things I Care About

Astute readers of the New Edge may assume that this column is the product of a lack of imagination or an unwillingness to come up with a new, original topic. You are partially correct. The other explanation for this “What’s Happening?” (what’s happening in the sense of this being an update, not the underrated 1970’s TV show) is that I tend to follow all of the topics from previous New Edge posts and found some of the updates and happenings discussed below fascinating and thought that you may agree. Hopefully it doesn’t feel too much like a Rerun.

Amazon is going to open a brick-and-mortar store. Seriously. Think back now to my previous ruminations on how Amazon is destroying the brick-and-mortar bookstore, one of my favorite institutions that is slowing dying. Now, Amazon is planning a brick-and-mortar store of its own. It will be in New York’s Herald Square next to the famous Macy’s of Thanksgiving Day parade legend and will accept returns and probably show off the Kindle and the Fire.

This article here actually has some great data and explanations for why Amazon would do this. In short, most purchases are still made in brick-and-mortar retail stores and so there is money to be made. Bezos is no dummy. Read more

Google To Rate ISPs Based on YouTube Metrics

Google has announced the launch of a video quality report that is apparently intended to inform end-users about the performance of their Internet Service Provider (ISP), based on how well YouTube videos are delivered to customers. Results will reportedly be available first for Canadian ISPs. For now, the report’s website provides basic details on how videos are distributed via the Internet, while also discussing factors such as congestion, caching and home networks. The objective, according to Google, is to “present a rating that is meaningful, easy to understand and one that closely reflects the real world Internet experience.”

Google also notes that variables such as users’ access speed, local network availability, server configuration and capacity, etc., all can impact end-users’ video quality. The company also mentions peering, stating that under its open peering policy, Google will directly interconnect with any ISP that can reach its 70 points of presence “without charge.” Google says that ratings will be based on the sustained speeds at which videos are transferred, in addition to other factors such as time of day and location. Google will provide ratings for both standard- and high-definition videos.

The new report appears comparable to Netflix’s ISP Speed Index, which compares ISPs based on measurements the company says indicates the best “Netflix experience.” Some have observed that ISPs using Netflix’s content delivery network (CDN) do better in this comparison. In a similar vein, there is speculation that deflecting blame for poor video quality is at least part of the reason Google has begun this new initiative.  Whatever the motives, Google’s video quality reports are likely to be brought to users’ attention and used as an indicator of broadband performance in the near future.

Disney, YouTube Announce Partnership

Google’s YouTube and the Walt Disney Co.’s Disney Interactive Division have agreed to a new partnership, according to a widely cited article in today’s New York Times. Under the terms of the deal, the media giants will spend a combined $10 million – $15 million on original video series. The “family-friendly” shorts will be produced by Disney and distributed on a co-branded channel on and YouTube. The channel will also include amateur video culled from the torrent uploaded to YouTube daily.

The online video destinations are anticipated to launch in early 2012. The first show will be an original video series based on Disney’s alligator-themed mobile game “Where’s My Water?,” scheduled to launch in February 2012. Read more

YouTube Adds 3,000 Movie Titles for Rent

YouTube announced May 9 that it will now offer more than 3,000 additional films from three major studios for rent, with some titles reportedly available the same day as the DVD offering.

The Google-based video service recently signed deals with Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros, Sony Corp’s Sony Pictures and Comcast Corp’s Universal Pictures, in addition to its previously announced partner Lions Gate Entertainment.

YouTube has been offering movies for rent since early 2010, but its content was limited to catalog and independent fare. This announcement is a significant step in the video giant’s evolution from user-generated content to studio-produced fare.

Read more

YouTube in Talks with Pro Sports Leagues to Stream Live Games

Following on the heels of a successful broadcast of cricket matches from the Indian Premier League last summer, Google Inc.’s YouTube is in talks with “most pro sports leagues” about streaming live games.

Google is remaining mum on the details, but according to a report published last Wednesday by Bloomberg, the video site has been speaking with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL).

Gautam Anand, Google’s director of content partnerships for Asia Pacific, said the company plans to stream more live sports this year. “It’s fair to say that there will be a lot more appealing sports content you’ll see on YouTube,” Anand said. “We have ongoing conversations with pretty much everyone.” Read more

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