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?
After months of betas and release candidates, the final version of Adobe Flash Player 10.1 is available for download. We've been running the release candidate for a few months, but if you were holding back, now's the time to make the jump. Most of the improvements are not particularly user-facing. The one feature that people will notice is the addition of hardware acceleration of Flash content.
The hardware acceleration will use a computer's graphics processing abilities to more efficiently run Flash content, taking strain off the CPU. The Mac version of Flash 10.1 does not have hardware acceleration built in at this time. This capability is still being developed in the Gala Project. Apple just opened the necessary APIs a few weeks ago, so we expect a bit of a wait.
What we didn't get today is a final version of Flash 10.1 for Android. We don't know when that product will move out of beta and Adobe isn't giving any hints. Get it here. Do you feel like the new Flash is running better on your system?
Online video will soon consume the highest amount of internet bandwidth. According to results of the annual Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast, global internet video traffic will surge past p2p traffic by the end of this year, emerging as the internet's biggest growth driver. Come 2014 and the internet will be ferrying 2 years of video every second. If combined one after the other, all the video to cross the internet that year would be around 72 million years in length.
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?
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.
Google’s spending spree continues unabated with the acquisition of video hosting platform Episodic. The Episodic product and team is expected to folded into YouTube. Episodic allows users to create video libraries with ad insertion capabilities and support for credit card transactions. Google did not release the price paid for Episodic.
The Episodic player currently works on both desktop browsers and the iPhone. There is not currently support for Android, but that support is supposed to be coming soon. Though, it is unclear what form Episodic will take now that the team will be working at YouTube. Episodic is primarily for serious content producers. In addition to the advertizing and transaction tools, the service also has the ability to syndicate content to other services like Amazon, iTunes, or Hulu.
Google just recently acquired online photo editor Picnik, and Google Docs competitor DocVerse. It may be that Google is trying to strengthen their online offerings in anticipation of Chrome OS computers later this year.
The sites include the likes of the New York Times, Vimeo, CNN, and The White House. Confusingly, the Apple page does not link to the sites; it just shows a header for each. Apple has a description of how each site has implemented design changes for the iPad. Some sites like Reuters are listed as having HTML5 video for “most” content, while Virgin America is “almost entirely standards based”.
Apple also has a link at the bottom of the page asking, “Is your site taking advantage of the latest web standards?” Website admins are encouraged to submit their site for consideration as “iPad ready”. Hopefully this will be more informal than the App Store approval process.