YouTube will begin working with the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism to deliver breaking news in the form of YouTube videos. The so-called CitizenTube has existed for a while now, but this new commitment means the content will be constantly updated with the help of an editorial staff. The editors will also be looking for tips and feedback via twitter.
YouTube's blog post didn't make it clear if the entire endeavor would be human driven, or there would be some automated content selection happening as well. This sort of guiding influence could help make "citizen journalism" more valuable to the general public. Presumably, the folks behind CitizenTube will vet stories before posting them. We expect this feed to be built into YouTube's mobile applications at some point. Would you check this feed during the next big news story, or will traditional media still be more practical?
In the emerging world of HTML5 video, the H.264 codec has the early lead. But as anticipated, Google threw a new competitor into the mix today at Google I/O. Google's VP8 codec is now available to anyone to use royalty-free. This was announced as part of a larger project called WebM in conjunction with Mozilla and Opera.
Many have been concerned with the patent ownership of H.264, and open source projects like Firefox have been unable to include it. VP8 could be a real alternative here. The other open alternative, Ogg Theora, is seen as having inferior quality to that of H.264 and VP8. There were rumors earlier today that Microsoft would be building support for VP8 into the upcoming Internet Explorer 9. Redmond has clarified they will support the standard, but users will need to install the codec on their systems.
In short order Chrome, Firefox, and Opera will have support for the new codec. Youtube will also be made compatible with VP8. No word on if Safari will join the VP8 club as well. Flash isn't dead yet, but there's another vulture circling it now. Would you prefer VP8 or H.264 be the next generation video standard?
Hulu is constantly updating their Flash-based video player, but one change they don't plan on making is the addition of an HTML5 video option. The company's VP of products Eugene Wei said in a blog post that, "[HTML5] doesn’t yet meet all of our customers’ needs." He lists a number of reasons for this, many of which point to the callous side of the streaming business. Wei notes that the Hulu player must secure content, serve ads, and control bandwidth.
HTML5 video is seen as the next step beyond Flash by many. It would use a tag to describe a video element to the browser, which then decodes the video directly. This necessarily means the video is more accessible to the end user, making it easier to copy. This is one of the reasons Hulu feels HTML5 isn't for them. Add to that the inability of HTML5 as it stands to serve ads within content, and you can see why Hulu is sticking with Flash.
This course of action will keep devices like the iPad from playing Hulu content for the time being. Though, possible mobile apps could get around that. In fact, that would jive nicely with Hulu's rumored pay model. Do you feel like HTML5 is the future, or will issues like this hold it back?
Automated technology to detect pirated content has been tried before, but the results are usually a mess of false positives and misses. NEC claims their new video identification system can succeed where the others have failed. According to NEC, the technology has a detection rate of 96% and a suspiciously good false positive rate of 1 in 5 million.
The NEC detection system works by creating a digital fingerprint from the original content. The files are 76 bytes in size per frame, making storage of many fingerprints doable. The system can work with scenes as short as two seconds; say goodbye to fair use. NEC is also claiming it can detect content that has been altered by converting it from digital to analog, or filming in a theater. It is unclear if a video can be manipulated sufficiently to evade the filter.
The technology is on its way to being integrated into the upcoming MPEG-7 media standard. We'll be interested to see if NEC is promising more than it can deliver here. It sounds like Star Trek level tech to us.
It's been a long strange road as we wait for Adobe Flash to finally come to mobile devices. Some HTC Android phones run Flash Lite, but the performance leaves a lot to be desired. Google's Android chief Andy Rubin has finally given us a clue about just when and how Flash will be coming to Android.Ruben said in a recent New York Times interview that Flash would be integrated with the next Android update, 2.2, also known as Froyo. The current newest build is 2.1, codenamed Éclair.
This seems to indicate that the release is near. We have another clue as well. A recent interview with Adobe's CEO saw him stumbling a bit when talking about the mobile Flash rollout. He originally claimed that Flash mobile 10.1 would come out in the second half of 2010, this differed from the previously stated windows of the first half of the year. Adobe was forced to clarify: Flash is hitting Android in H1 2010.
So we now know that Flash will be rolling out with Android Froyo, but what phones will get it? Certainly the Nexus One will probably get Froyo as soon as it's ready. The Droid/Milestone will probably get it soon thereafter. Much of the other Android family is either based on older hardware, or runs a custom skin (like HTC Sense) that requires manufacturers to rollout their own updates. We'll be watching how Adobe and Google proceed with great interest. Are you aching to get Flash on your mobile phone?
Word has leaked out today that Hulu's negotiations with UK broadcasters have broken down, and the service will not be offered in that market. Sources at the broadcasters claim that the "market does not match [Hulu's] business expectations”. Which we take to mean the British broadcasters wanted too big a slice of the action.
Hulu in the US has become a marginal success, and even has been turning a profit as of late. The video streaming company is owned by News Corp, NBC Universal and Disney. Hulu is rumored to be planning to launch a subscription model next month, but apparently even that model was not enough to sway UK broadcasters.
One British station, ITV, is clearly forging ahead with their own ITV Player instead of putting their content on aggregators. Hulu hasn't had anything to say on the matter as of yet, but we'd be interested to hear their side of things. In the meantime, at least our friends in the UK can enjoy Spotify, which has yet to land in the States.
A new study from ScanScout could be mighty troubling to advertising types. Apparently about 24% of all online video is being watched during the traditional television primetime hours of 8PM-11PM. You know, the time the networks assume we're watching so they can charge more for ads. It's really starting to look like online video is replacing a certain amount of live TV viewing.
The programmers have always seen their online offerings as a secondary option for people, not as a replacement for their broadcasts. This is evidenced by the approach networks are taking to Hulu and Netflix. But these numbers indicate viewers are perfectly happy to stream what they want if the network isn't giving it to them.
The study also clearly indicated that primetime isn't the only time people sit down to stream video. The other time when users streamed higher than average amounts of content was weekend days. It was 31% higher than during weekdays. It's clear that when people have time to watch a program, they are increasingly turning to online sources. Do you find online video is eating up time you might have spent watching TV in the past?
Netflix has been adding subscribers at a nice clip, seeing an amazing 1.7 million new subscribers in jus the first quarter. As such, it's no surprise that the company is reporting that they've met aggressive earning expectations with total revenue of $493 million. But a lot of those subscribers are signing on and staying largely because of the Netflix Instant Streaming service.
The Netflix streaming service suffered from scant selection at launch, but is now getting more expansive all the time. Those hoping for physical disks are a little displeased about the recent series of quid pro quos. These deals have Netflix delaying DVD releases in favor of increase streaming licenses. Netflix is claiming that in the last quarter 55% of users streamed at least one item from the catalog. That's up from 36% at this time last year.
The reason is clear. While it has always been available on PCs, all the major consoles now have a Netflix streaming option, and there are inexpensive options like the Roku box. There is also a plug-in for Windows Media Center that accomplishes the same function. Users of the Xbox 360 need to maintain a Xbox Gold account to take advantage of Netflix streaming, but the numbers show that isn't much of an impediment. If you use Netflix instant Streaming, let us know how you like it and what platform you use.
It’s often said that HTML5 will take over the web and push out the current mishmash of standards. Microsoft and Adobe would like to respectfully disagree with that. At the recent Open Source Business Conference executives from both companies said they believe the future of the web will include their proprietary formats, Flash and Silverlight.
Microsoft did have nice things to say about HTML5 though. They plan to use the standard in conjunction with their own plug-ins. Adobe too said they’d utilize HTML5, pointing to their web tools space. Of open source in general, both execs agreed that it could be an efficient way to distribute software.
The battle for multimedia delivery is still just getting under way, but plug-ins (especially Flash) have a big head start. Do you think HTML5 will come out on top, or are we looking at a mixture of standards?
I case you had forgotten, Viacom is still suing YouTube. Opening statements were presented today and the arguments are shaping up much as we expected. Viacom says YouTube doesn’t do enough to keep copyrighted materials off YouTube, and YouTube says that the “safe harbors” provision of the DMCA protects them from the claims. However, some interesting bits of behind the scene dealings have also come out.
According to a blog post by YouTube Chief Counsel Zahavah Levine, for years Viacom hired people to upload their content, and even went so far as to “rough up” the video so it looked stolen. In an attempt to be stealthy they sent employees to the local Kinkos to upload some content so it wouldn’t be traced to Viacom. All this sneaking around worked super well, even on Vacom itself. YouTube points out that Viacom occasionally asked for a clip to be removed only to reverse themselves upon realizing they uploaded it. According to YouTube, several of the clips involved in the suit were uploaded by Viacom.
The post closes with assurances that YouTube would fight the charges and continue to be a “leader in providing media companies with 21st century tools to control, distribute, and make money from their content online”. Do you think YouTube is at fault, or is Viacom just spoiling for a fight?