Broadband Video/Live-Streaming News Round-Up

--Babelgum in Deal to Offer Cinelan's Library of Three-Minute Non-Fiction Films
--Bambuser's Live Streaming iPhone App Receives App Store Approval
--Conviva Names Former NBCU CTO, Darren Feher, President and CEO
--Episodic Powers Showtime Sports' "Strikeforce: All Access"
--Justin.tv Launches Unified Chat Option, Plans to Launch Pay-Per-View Service
--Livestream to Provide Live-Streaming Coverage of Times Square New Year Celebrations
--Netflix Web Site Updated to Push "Watch Instantly" Option
--Next New Networks Announces "Next New Creators" Program
--NHL Teams with NeuLion to Launch "NHL VideoCenter" Player
--VidZapper Integrated with Amazon CloudFront
--Chinese Broadband Video Site, Youku, Raises $40 Million

A number of items of broadband-video and live-streaming news have come across [itvt]'s desk over the past few days. Here is a brief round-up:

  • Broadband/mobile video content platform provider, Babelgum, has announced a partnership with Cinelan, a company which specializes in publishing three-minute non-fiction films--often from prominent filmmakers--and which was co-founded by filmmaker, Morgan Spurlock ("Super Size Me"). Babelgum says it will make Cinelan's complete library of films available on a Cinelan-branded channel on its platform. "Using Babelgum as our online and mobile distribution partner is important for us because of the position Babelgum is taking in the independent film community," Cinelan CEO, David Laks, said in a prepared statement. "They are one of the few truly global players in the space, and the commitment they are showing to independent film, including documentaries, demonstrates to us that they are doing the right thing to support the indie film community."
  • Mobile streaming company, Bambuser, has announced that its live streaming app for the iPhone is now available in the Apple App Store. According to the company, "the application will allow you to stream live video from any iPhone, even the ones that don't have video capabilities." Ustream recently launched a similar app (see the article published on itvt.com, December 10th), and a similar app from Qik is still awaiting approval.
  • Online video solutions provider, Conviva, has officially announced its appointment of Darren Feher as president and CEO (note: news of the appointment was broken by Paid Content several months ago). Feher was previously CTO of NBC Universal. Conviva's press release announcing the appointment claims that Feher is "credited with [NBC Universal's] advancements in online video, viral and social communities, interactive television, games, and mobile experiences" and that "he was instrumental in the fight against digital piracy with extensive technical and policy work resulting in the widespread adoption of video fingerprinting."
  • Broadband video platform provider, Episodic, says it was once again tapped by Showtime Sports to power its live online video service, "Strikeforce: All Access," which complemented Showtime's live telecast last Saturday of a Mixed Martial Arts event at San Jose's HP Pavilion. Strikeforce: All Access, which also uses technologies from BitGravity, allows viewers to control their experience of sporting events through multiple camera angles with corresponding audio tracks, as well as interact with other viewers, watch user-generated photos, and download select music tracks from the event. For more on the service, see the article published on itvt.com, April 9th.
  • Justin.tv, a San Francisco-based company that bills itself as "the largest online community for people to broadcast, watch and interact around live video," is set to offer a pay-per-view service for live streaming video, and has also just launched a new unified chat option that combines feeds from Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and the company's own chat feature. A similar unified chat feature (though incorporating AIM rather than MySpace) was launched by rival Ustream in October.
  • Livestream (formerly Mogulus), a New York-based company which offers a platform that enables amateurs and professionals to produce and distribute live TV on the Internet, contacted [itvt] last week to let us know that it is partnering with the Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment on a six-and-a-half-hour live-streaming event (5:50PM Eastern, December 31st through 12:20AM, Eastern, January 1st), in which it says five co-hosts will cover all of the New Year's Eve action in New York City's Times Square, including the hourly countdowns, the ball raising ceremony, stage performances and the famous ball-dropping ceremony. The live streaming program will be available at TimesSquareNYC.org and at Livestream.com/2010. Livestream also says that a free, non-commercial widget--available in various sizes--will be available for bloggers, Web masters and digital media outlets to embed on their sites. The widget will feature the Livestream video player streaming the Times Square festivities and programming, as well as related social media tools, the company says. More information on the widget is available here.
  • Reflecting the increasing importance of OTT delivery to its business model, video rental company, Netflix, has updated its Web site so that the first tab that visitors to the site see is the "Watch Instantly" tab rather than the "Browse DVD's" tab. More information is available on the company's blog.
  • The National Hockey League (NHL) has teamed with Neulion to launch a new video player, called NHL VideoCenter, on its NHL.com Web site. Key features of the new player--which supersedes an earlier player that was also developed by NeuLion and that was located at NHL.tv--include HD, an expanded programming line-up, the ability to share content via Twitter, Facebook and Digg, and a larger video window. "The must-have trend for 2010 is HD and the new NHL VideoCenter brings that HD experience to the fan," Chris Wagner, co-founder and EVP of NeuLion, said in a prepared statement. "Interactivity, syndication features and multi-device delivery allows the NHL to reach fans anywhere at any time and build a deeper relationship with them." More information is available here.
  • Broadband video content company, Next New Networks, has announced the "formal launch" of Next New Creators, a program that it says is "designed to discover and foster talent from across the Web" and will see it "partner[ing] with up-and-coming independent creators to distribute, promote, package and monetize their shows." According to the company, the program has actually been underway since early 2009, and has resulted in such offerings as the Gregory Brothers' "Auto-Tune the News." As part of the program, Next New Networks says, "creators will gain access to Next New Networks' extensive resources including their publishing and technology platform and increased distribution through relationships with major partners such as YouTube and iTunes, as well as promotional support, editorial outreach and a dedicated sales team." In addition, the company says, "creators will...gain access to production facilities, staff, best practices for growing their viewership, and opportunities for collaboration with many of the most creative talents in online video."
  • TV Everywhere--not the US cable industry's online programming distribution initiative, but the new company of Narrowstep founder and former CEO, Iolo Jones--announced last week that it has launched a version of its broadband video management system, VidZapper (note: among other services, the company claims to power Moviebeat TV, a channel devoted to movie trailers; a channel for the University of Wales; and a channel for sailing's World Match Racing Tour; it also says that Spanish retailer, El Corte Ingles, and Spanish energy company, Endesa, have each selected it to power a raft of new channels), that is fully integrated with Amazon's S3 and CloudFront cloud computing network. The launch follows last week's news that Amazon's cloud computing service now supports Flash video streaming. According to TV Everywhere, the VidZapper integration includes support for HTTP progressive downloads of WMV, MOV and FLV video formats, as well as RTMP or streaming Flash video. Statistics are available via S3Stats, the company says.
  • Chinese broadband video company, Youku, has announced that it has closed $40 million in private equity funding, in what it says is the first tranche of a growth financing round. The round was led by Chengwei Ventures, Youku says, and the first closing was raised entirely from existing investors, which--in addition to Chengwei--include Brookside (Bain) Capital, Maverick Capital and Sutter Hill Ventures. The company says it is in active discussions with other potential investors about a second tranche, which would raise up to an additional $40 million. It has raised $110 million in private equity funding and $10 million in venture debt to date. It says it will use the latest round of funding to "syndicate professional media and produce Web-based content, to further enhance user experience, and on both PC-based and mobile R&D." Youku claims to work with over 1,500 content license holders to deliver professionally produced programming, and to have attracted 350 brand advertisers to date. It says its gross revenues for 2009 will surpass RMB200 million. According to the company, in October its site was accessed by 149 million unique visitors on home and office PC's and by 57 million uniques from Internet cafes.

 

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