Scope into the video-stream

An interview with Jose Alvear,author of the Web Developer.com Guide to Streaming Media
Posted February 9, 1999
By

Adnan Ashraf


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Jose Alvear is author of the book "Web Developer.com Guide to Streaming Multimedia" (April 1998, Wiley Computer Books), and writes extensively on multimedia, video, audio and videoconferencing. In part two of our special report on streaming media, Alvear shares his observations about recent developments in the streaming media industry, as they relate to the evolution of the enterprise, with Intranet Journal Content Producer Adnan Ashraf.

Intranet Journal: Do you agree with RealNetworks' CEO Rob Glaser when he suggests that television is going to migrate to the Web?

"If I want to watch Clinton's videotaped testimony, odds are I will choose TV over my computer. However, if I want to watch a video on my own schedule or need some obscure piece of video perhaps the Web might be a better choice."

Jose Alvear: Yes, once consumers get access to high-bandwidth solutions like cable and ADSL, we can finally get rid of all those hokey 28.8K and 56K modems. Right now, bandwidth is the biggest problem facing companies and it is preventing many more companies from putting more streaming content on the Web. Although there's a lot of content available right now, companies are still staying away. After all, how would you like to watch a half-hour sitcom on your computer monitor? How about a two-hour movie? Watching a 4-inch window at 10 frames per second gets tired very quickly, that's why most videos online are just a few minutes long. If I want to watch Clinton's videotaped testimony, odds are I will choose TV over my computer. However, if I want to watch a video on my own schedule or need some obscure piece of video perhaps the Web might be a better choice. For example, when I want to watch a music video for a particular artist I don't flip on MTV and wait for it to show. Instead I turn to Streamland.com or another music site that has the video I want to see.

In the far future, I envision watching MicrosoftTV or perhaps The RealVideo Channel on my TV in full screen, full-motion glory, but I don't see that happening very soon. I also predict that today's streaming media technology will be the ancestors to on-demand movies and Interactive TV. But I won't hold my breath.

IJ: If in the near future, TV stations migrate their programming to the Web, what role will a company like Activate or Globix play?

JA: I’m not too familiar with Globix in terms of streaming media, but as an access provider they will be very important. Content developers and site administrators will need extra bandwidth to carry the large load of audio and video. Also any provider working with IP multicasting will also play a major role. I firmly believe that we'll be seeing multicasting over the Internet that will deliver TV-like scheduled programming in the not-too-distant future.

Activate (and other streaming media developers and aggregators like Broadcast.com) will be the ones that push streaming media to the next level. Companies will have to handle the encoding, networking, servers, and media delivery themselves or hire outside help to do it for them. In the short-term, companies will flock to companies like Activate or Broadcast or Encoding.com, but I think networks and TV stations will eventually catch up and do their own streaming delivery themselves.


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