Tag: online video services

France takes steps towards a YouTube competitor

Articles – French language / Langue Française

Map of France

France sowing the seeds for a YouTube competitor

Nouveau monde. Un YouTube “libre” à la française | France TV

From the horse’s mouth


My Comments

I have previously raised the issue of people and companies based in Europe building online services that compete with what Silicon Valley offers but respect European values. This has been more so in respect to the European Commission taking legal action against the Silicon Valley IT titans like Google and Facebook due to issues like user privacy and respect for European values.

Subsequently, in answer to Google denying Amazon access to YouTube for their Echo Show product, I wrote an article about YouTube needing to face competition when it comes to online video services.

Here, I was calling out issues like individuals and small businesses needing affordable options for sharing their video content while they maintain effective control over it. It also includes issues like monetisation options for video content providers along with proper fair dealing for content creators and rightsholders when it comes to using copyrighted works in the content creators’ videos. The latter issue focuses on users using a relatively small part of a copyrighted work like a phrase from a song or a few seconds of vision from a film or TV show in an incidental manner.

Amazon Echo Spot press picture courtesy of Amazon

Could this be a chance to make user-generated video available on devices like Amazon’s Echo Spot?

In the same context, I was calling out the availability of native-client apps for various IT platforms, whether as a separately-installed app for a regular-computer or mobile operating system or as something baked in to firmware for a device like a set-top box or smart speaker. This is so you aren’t always heading down an inefficient path of using a browser to view videos or find that you can’t use the platform’s or device’s assets for this task.

The French have taken off with this goal with Framasoft, a French open-source software developer, working towards a peer-to-peer approach.

The “PeerTube” approach is based on free open-source software and implements a “federation” model. This is where a host could store video uploaded to it directly but also share video uploaded to other hosts. This can please media companies, the education sector, Webhosts and other companies who have multiple servers or data centers in differing geographical locations and make sure these hosts serve viewers closer to them.

It is being driven by the “WebTorrent” concept of integrating BitTorrent peer-to-peer file-sharing technology to video streaming in an effort to reduce latency. Again, it is implementing free open-source technology to achieve the same goal.

At the moment, the “PeerTube” effort is at an alpha stage but there is a goal to have it to beta by March 2018. Framasoft are raising money to get this idea off the ground and have raised EUR€16,032 at the time of writing. There is also the issue of creating a Web-based portal to show what’s available along with providing source code to make native clients for a PeerTube content delivery network.

Personally, I would see the “PeerTube” concept working tightly with Webhosts, content delivery networks and the like to make audio and video distribution affordable for the small-timer. There will also be their idea of data centers including edge computing being used as a way to expedite reliable access to “catch-up TV” and similar video content pools.

What needs to happen once PeerTube is proven is that it needs to be sold as a viable alternative for YouTube when it comes to offering user-generated video content.

Netflix to conquer the hotel scene–what questions could this raise


Netflix official logo - courtesy of Netflix

Netflix – the sign of on-demand video’s progress

Marriott Has Told Bloomberg That It’s Trialling Streaming Services | Gizmodo

Netflix Weighs Expansion in Hotels With Marriott Testing Service | San Diego Source (Bloomberg)

Marriott plans to bring Netflix to your hotel room TV | Engadget

My Comments

Rydges Melbourne Delux Queen hotel room

Netflix and similar services will be coming soon to the hotel room’s TV

Marriott are trialling online content services like Netflix, Hulu & co in eight of their US hotels to see how provisioning such services would work in the hotel environment. It is even though guests would use the public Internet access to stream these services to their own computer equipment and connect this equipment to the hotel-room TV to have it on the large screen. But this is more about providing access to these services on the TV screen without dependence on user-supplied equipment.

There have been issues raised regarding US hotels seeing these services as a way to overcharge their guests by offering them as part of premium Internet packages. It is although most of us would be subscribing to these services to enjoy them personally and these questions relate to us paying Netflix directly for our personal service but also paying the hotel via our room accounts which leads to “double-dipping” when we are at these places.

But there is another question regarding the provision of Netflix or Spotify in the hotel environment. These services work best for end-users when they log in to the services with their own credentials. Here, Netflix could give one access to their personal movie queue or recommendation list or Spotify could show up the playlists that one is following. Hotel-based setups should support the ability to gain access to one’s own account with these services so that we gain access to our own customisations.

If there is concern about the “double-dipping” issue, Netflix could take things further by providing a “cut” of the subscription fee to the hotel for each guest who logs in to this service through their equipment. As well, Netflix and co could work on concepts like favourites lists that represent what is liked by guests staying at that hotel or recommended-content lists for that particular location, thus integrating these services with the hotel’s community.

Why provide downloading as an option for delivering online video?

At the moment, the online video industry is preferring to work on the “stream-only” model for delivering their video content via the Internet. But they could also look at supporting a download model where content is delivered to secondary storage that is local to the viewer with them viewing the content from the secondary storage.

In this context, downloading is where the files representing video content are delivered in a best-case manner rather than as real-time to the show as possible, with the content ending up on the secondary storage. Then, when the viewer wants to view this content, they play it off the secondary storage rather than stream it.

They prefer the “stream-only” approach for a few reasons. One is to control the viewing experience so as to either offer extra features or run advertising before or during the content, with the advertising reflecting the latest campaigns. Another is to avoid the risk of content piracy that could be seen to occur if the content is left on a space that is controlled by the customer. As well, the customer doesn’t need to bear any costs for extra secondary storage to hold the content even though the cost of this storage is becoming significantly cheaper. You can also log in to your service from anywhere you are connected to the Internet to get at the same content.

But there are limitations with the streaming approach. One glaring limitation is that a sub-par Internet or network connection or an oversubscribed video stream can ruin the viewing experience with jitter or latency. As well, viewers who like to implement trick-play functionality, especially to review scenes, may find streaming becoming a problem.

A download-based service could be offered as an adjunct to a streaming-based service for video-on-demand services, especially those that host a lot of drama or related content. These services could work hand-in-glove with a network-attached-storage device or a hard disk directly attached to a smart TV or video peripheral like a network media player.

This could work hand-in-glove with most video-on-demand business models especially if they are subscription-based, “download-to-own”, or rental/pay-per-view models. Here, systems that implement any “playlist” model for video content could support a “download-ahead” setup where content in a playlist that hasn’t been viewed yet is downloaded, ready to view. This would make life very enjoyable for “binge-watchers” who will watch a run of episodes of a favourite TV show.

Typically, the download-based service is based around a hard disk that is physically integrated in the set-top equipment or connected via USB to the same equipment. This class of setup would have us think of a DVR-style set-top box or some hard-disk-based media players. But, if there was a standard way to determine the presence of available storage space on a suitable network-attached-storage device, these devices could also work well with the download-based video service. Examples of this application may include router/NAS units like the Freebox Révolution, or just simply most consumer NAS units.

The idea of downloading video content rather than streaming it when providing a video-on-demand service is something worth considering when it comes to delivering online video so as to assure all users of a proper experience for these services.