Nachdem Brightcove gerade erfolgreich an die Börse gegangen ist, bietet es sich an mit Eric Elia – VP TV Solutions bei Brightcove – darüber zu sprechen, wie er den Markt sieht, wo Brightcove steht und wie es weiter geht.
Entwicklung des Online Video Markts
Trotz des erfolgreichen Börsengangs sieht Eric den Videomarkt noch ganz am Anfang. Sowohl was die Technologien anbelangt als auch was den Vertrieb von Inhalten angeht gibt es noch viel Entwicklungspotential. Dabei sieht er den online Videomarkt ähnlich fragmentiert wie den Smartphone Markt vor dem iPhone. Es bedarf auch hier eines Katalysators um den Markt zur vollen Entfaltung zu bringen.
Letztich dominieren im Moment immer noch die Kabelnetzbetreiber und Telcos die Verbreitung von TV im Internet, da es für neue Player sehr schwer ist an hochwertige Inhalte zu gelangen. Die Lizenzen sind extrem teuer und die Produzenten hängen am Tropf der Netzbetreiber, die sich durch hohe Vorauszahlungen die Rechte sichern. Es geht also darum die Geschäftsmodelle für online Video zu definieren und das kann noch eine Weile dauern.
Für 2012 sagt Eric jedoch voraus, dass zumindest ein großes Technologieunternehmen ähnliche Summen für Inhalte bezahlen wird wie die Telcos und Kabelnetzbetreiber. Apple, Google, Amazon, Samsung oder Microsoft haben seiner Ansicht nach die finanziellen Mittel um sich die Rechte an einem großen TV-Ereignis wie den Olympischen Spielen, der Bundesliga oder der WM zu sichern. Diese Inhalte könnten online Video zum Durchbruch verhelfen und als Katalysator für eine breite Adaption sorgen.
Europa vs. USA
Interessanterweise sieht er Europa in Hinblick auf das TV-Catchup als weiter entwickelt an als die USA zumindest was die Einstellung der TV-Sender anbelangt. Allerdings bescheinigt er Europa auf der anderen Seite einen enormen Nachholbedarf, was die Aufbereitung der Mediatheken anbelangt. Diese orientieren sich noch zu sehr am traditionellen Programmschema anstatt mehr auf einen Zugang über Titel, Marken oder soziale Filter zu setzen. Vor allem das Entdecken und Finden von Inhalten ist deshalb noch nicht so einfach wie in den USA.
Mobile Nutzung explodiert
Die Videonutzung auf dem iPad ist laut Eric sehr beeindruckend – sogar so beeindruckend, dass Brightcove massiv in den Ausbau der User Experience auf Android und iOS Geräten investiert hat. Neben der mobilen Nutzung steigt vor allem die Nutzung auf Spielkonsolen, die sich immer weiter zum universellen Entertainment-Gerät entwickeln. Publishern rät Eric sich zuerst auf das iPad zu konzentrieren, jedoch die anderen Plattformen wie ConnectedTVs und Spielkonsolen nicht außer acht zu lassen, da diese je nach Land 5-10% mehr Traffic bedeuten können.
Brightcove sieht zwei große Herausforderungen im Hinblick auf die Konkurrenz. Zum einen kämpfen sie mit Copycats, die ihre Leistungen und Services duplizieren zum anderen konkurrieren sie mit dem Wunsch vieler Medienunternehmen Videotechnologien intern zu entwickeln. Vor allem die do-it-yourself Mentalität sieht Eric als die größte Herausforderung für Brightcove. Dabei gilt es die Unternehmen davon zu überzeugen, den Schritt in Richtung einer cloudbasierten Lösung zu wagen. Letztlich basieren Eigenentwicklungen auch nur auf fremden Technologien, denn die Medienunternehmen werden wohl nicht anfangen einen eigenen Codec, ein eigenes Content Delivery Network oder einen eigen Transcodingserver zu schreiben. Zudem belegen laut Eric Statistiken, dass es sowohl schneller als auch günstiger ist eine Software-as-a-Service Lösung wie Brightcove zu implementieren statt die Technologie selbst zu entwickeln.
Interview Eric Elia
Lest im Anschluss das gesamte Interview mit Erics Einschätzungen zum Einfluss von beschränkten Breitbandanschlüssen, Secondscreen-Applikationen und Brightcoves AppCloud.
The dust around online video has settled and especially the US market with YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Prime & Netflix and TV Everywhere feels very mature. Which challenges does online video still face moving forward? How will the landscape evolve over the coming years?
I think it is not mature at all. It’s still very early. There are a few things that are happening and things we have not seen yet. If you look at the mobile world previously in 2007 you had a very fragmented landscape with a lot of companies trying to do applications and services for mobile phones but you had not yet had the iPhone to come out to really set the path for how things are going to look in the future.
I think we have not yet seen the iPhone of TV and which company that’s going to come from. And it’s still early on the technology side as well as the content distribution side. The economics producing premium video content distributing it across different devices profitably is very early days. In that space you have still traditional distributors whether it’s Sky or Deutsche Telekom or BBC or in the US Comcast and Time Warner Cable. You have traditional operators that dominate the premium TV distribution business. It’s still very difficult for startups or new companies to come in and distribute high quality content repackage it and present it to consumers. It’s also not economically viable for producers to do it on their own. Because of the financial upfront payments that come from traditional distributors which are hard to replace. So I think technology is getting closer to being clear. But the business side takes quite a bit of time to get resolved. My prediction is you’ll see in 2012 one of the big technology companies and it’s probably one of Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google or Samsung go spend the kind of money on content that an operator does. So in 2010 the Premiership in the UK cost over a billion pounds to BSkyB. I think you’ll just have to see similar kinds of numbers whether it is the Olympics, World Cup, NFL or Premiership. These rights will get bought up by one of the technology companies and that will be a kind of watershed moment that shows how seriously things are going to change. And when it is premium unique content you can’t get anywhere else coming through one of these types of services I think that’s when things will change.
Brightcove is a very international company with offices all around the world. And you were in the UK in the last year. Is the European and especially the German market different than the others or do you see similar patterns all over the world?
Germany in all of Europe is unique because premium PayTV is not as popular as it is in other countries in Europe or the US. The demand for what you might see in the US with a channel like HBO or in the UK with one of the Sky or Virgin channels is not as strong in Germany. It seems that Sky in Germany in particular is trying to create this demand by acquiring premium content. So that’s a big difference.
One thing I know that is very different is that in Europe as a whole there was for a while a much more sophisticated view towards what they call catch-up TV services. Yet the user interface was kind of backwards where it was still tied to the program guide and a linear schedule and that’s how people navigated on what you had missed in the past few days. I think where things have to go obviously is breaking out of the EPG or the programming guide. Discovery happens via Titles, Brands and social means rather than the traditional EPG programming guide.
That’s an interesting place where I think Europe was much further ahead than the US in terms of the availability of content but it was behind the US in just thinking about discovery and navigation. That’s changing – hopefully. Although the YouView UI was still kind of catch-up TV centered.
Another big difference I see that’s interesting is around metered broadband. In the US broadband is still all you can eat. There is no limit or a limit that most people don’t hit. In countries in Europe such as the UK broadband is metered. An so people are paying for the bandwidth that they consume. So as a result this changes the types of video products that people need and that they’re interested in. In Europe downloads are more important than they are in the US where things have moved to streaming and cloud based systems almost entirely.
As VP of TV Solutions you’re focussed on finally bringing online video into the living room on the big screen. How important are other devices than a PC for you and your customers? How much usage do you see on Post-PC devices?
We see a tremendous amount of growth in the Post-PC landscape. Many of our customers are looking to publish a wide range of devices such as iOS and Android. We’re particularly impressed by the amount of video consumption on the iPad and we think that should be a key part of every publishers strategy right now. To that end we put a tremendous amount of investment behind iOS and Android experiences including our new product AppCloud which is targeted on mobile and portable devices.
Additionally we see a lot of interest and some early successes on certain connected devices. I think most interestingly we are seeing gaming devices such as the XBox emerge in popularity as a device for finding and watching entertainment. And then the second area is what people are calling ConnectedTV or SmartTV. That segment is the traditional consumer electronics companies offering connected experiences and content directly to the TVs where you can install and utilize apps so to speak on a TV and access content over a broadband connection rather than traditional TV distribution technologies. That’s a very interesting category. We’re seeing some customers drive additional traffic from 5-10% of their audience by adopting individual new platforms. It varies country by country which platforms to focus on.
What consumption trends in terms of genres, viewing time and usage do you see? What trends do you see with your partners?
We’re seeing some new publishers emerge. Not I would say because of ConnectedTV but because of the opportunity to distribution content on the Internet as a whole directly to viewers though ones own website or through other distributors or third parties. I think ConnectedTV, gaming devices, mobile and portable create new touch-points for people to find and enjoy content. Increasingly what we’re seeing is the emergence of what people call the two screen experience where you’re watching video on a TV but on a mobile or portable device you’re using that device to either get related information or content to what you’re watching or you are using the second device as a tool for discover, search and personalization.
Do you offer solutions to synchronize these two?
We don’t today but we have customers who are able to do these things already. And some of the devices work together no matter what the content such as Apple’s AirPlay technology and there are similar schemes that are coming into play for other devices.
When I look at the online video platform space I see video transcoding, hosting and management becoming more and more of a commodity as CMS integrate these functionalities. Do you face the challenge to become a commodity?
Certainly every company faces several challenges. Challenge of your price going down. Challenge of competition and market with duplicate products that copy or mimic what you’ve been successful with. Certainly we’ve been a victim of that. Then every company is faced with their own internal challenges. How to grow effectively and successfully and remain fast moving and innovative as you get larger. To incubate the DNA of the company and the culture of what has made it successful as you grow internationally and people work in different locations. These are all universal challenges to any company that we’re very conscious of and focus on every day.
In the last Year we saw a lot of consolidation in the market mainly driven by Kit Digital. What competition is left and how do you differentiate?
On any given day we can count dozens of potential competitors in the market. Most often though the competition that you run into is a desire on the part of the company you’re dealing with to build their own solution. Where they feel like for some reason they need to own certain technological capabilities inside their organization and that will allow them to move faster. Statistics show though that the cost is higher generally of building those types of solutions in-house and the companies move slower when they build those sort of things. Also it’s some sort of a myth that you’re building it yourself. At some point in the technology stack you’re drawing a line as to where you going to use other technologies and when you’re going to build your own. And in the video space that line could be where Brightcove usually comes in which is really presenting everything someone needs to manage their online video business outside of producing content.
Brightcove doesn’t even go far up into advertising systems and things like that which we think are best served by specialists in the category. When you go down below there are things like encoding software, non linear video editing systems, content delivery networks, fingerprinting and watermarking technologies and codecs. At some point there you’re utilizing other technology. And so I think any media company has to look at it and just say where do we want to draw the line. Do we want to develop our own video codec? Do we want to create our own CDN? Do we want to create our own video player technology? Do we want to create our own programming language? Our own browser? Do we want to build our own encoding system? Do we want to create our own database technology? Where is that line? That winds up being the number one competition. Honestly it is the do it yourself.
So what’s next for Brightcove besides convincing the do it yourself crowd of signing up?
I think there are a lot of things that are next for us at Brightcove. We’re very excited about the AppCloud product which makes it really trivial to take videos, photos, news stories and other types of content not just video and to make those available to customers. It makes it easy to bring high quality mobile, portable products to market without a lot of heavy engineering and we’re very excited about that. The energy and excitement around it has been very high.
In the Videocloud area specifically we’re excited by the transformation happening in the TV and movie business. There is a lot of opportunity there for innovation. We’re also excited by the growth of the audience and the demands of viewing and watching programming on different devices that surged over the past few years. It has been great for all our customers.