Business

Streaming Video Group Launches, but Key Players Are Missing

The Streaming Video Alliance, a new trade group focused on developing industrywide standards and best practices for video-streaming services, has numerous big-name members, but it's the major ones not on the list—Netflix and YouTube—that have raised questions.

The Streaming Video Alliance, a new trade group focused on developing industrywide standards and best practices for video-streaming services, has numerous big-name members, but it’s the major ones not on the list—Netflix and YouTube—that have raised questions.

It’s a fascinating comment on the nature of online video in 2014 when a new trade group launches with multibillion-dollar member companies such as Comcast, Cisco, and Yahoo, and those covering the announcement have two initial questions: “Where’s Netflix?” and “Where’s YouTube?”

But that’s the situation facing the Streaming Video Alliance (SVA). More details:

About the group: The alliance plans to formulate industrywide standards and best practices for the online video industry, with the goal of encouraging collaboration among members. Currently, 17 companies are on board, with Fox Networks, Epix, Charter Communications, and Ustream among them. “The need for increased collaboration among members of the streaming video ecosystem is clear, and the formation of the Streaming Video Alliance presents a strategic opportunity for us to provide consumers with the best experience possible,” Alon Maor, CEO of the video-delivery-system vendor Qwilt, told Variety. The group’s founding members will gather at least twice a year.

Timed to the news cycle: SVA comes along as the video-streaming industry has become a focal point in the net neutrality debate, with Netflix recently emerging as a prominent voice for stricter regulation of internet service providers. The debate came to a head a week ago when President Obama urged the Federal Communications Commission to regulate internet service providers like public utilities, under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Obama’s proposal would lead to tougher regulations than would the hybrid approach that has been considered by FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler in recent weeks.

So what about the big players? Netflix and YouTube account for nearly half of total downstream broadband usage. So why have they stayed out of SVA so far? Variety suggested that it might boil down to their large investments in proprietary infrastructures. Speaking to The Next Web, Netflix seemed to confirm Variety‘s theory: “We aren’t planning to join,” a spokesperson said. “Given the scale of Netflix video traffic, we custom-built our Open Connect network to ensure Netflix members have the best viewing experience and we provide it free to ISPs.”

SVA will announce more members in January, founding member Dan Rayburn told Multichannel News.

“We’ve had discussion with them,” Rayburn said, referring to YouTube and Netflix. “We’ve had conversations with pretty much all of the largest content owners you can think of.”

(iStock/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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