End of an Era: Echostar Acquires Move Networks

Echostar (s SATS) announced Thursday that it has acquired the assets of Move Networks, the once high-flying video startup that helped revolutionize the way that video was streamed online. While Move’s adaptive bit rate technology has plenty of competition nowadays, its ability to serve up IPTV services without building out expensive network infrastructure, as well as its intellectual property, could still be valuable to the satellite technology firm.

Once upon a time, Move was a leader in the delivery of high-quality video streaming, due to adaptive bit rate technology that seamlessly adjusted to the quality of a video stream to match the bandwidth available on the network. At one time, Move Networks provided the technology used by ABC, (S DIS) Fox (s NWS) and other high-profile content providers to distribute their videos online. But other players in the market caught on and before you knew it, Adobe (s ADBE) and Microsoft (s MSFT) began offering their own competing adaptive bit rate technologies for video streaming.

It’s unclear what will happen to Move Networks’ existing customers — at least those that haven’t already transitioned to Flash or some other delivery platform. In addition to Move Networks’ video plugin customers, the company had tried to reposition itself as a technology provider for companies that wished to roll out IPTV services without building out expensive video-specific delivery infrastructure. Through its acquisition of Inuk Networks, Move Networks promised that it could provide an end-to-end video delivery service to IP-enabled set-top boxes over broadband networks.

While it’s also unclear what will become of the Move technology, the startup’s somewhat recent move to provide IPTV services provides a preview of what Echostar could do with the technology. As sister firm Dish Network (s DISH) and other satellite providers look to expand beyond one-way pay TV services, they could add video offerings over broadband. These online video offerings could be complementary to their satellite offerings, like in a TV Everywhere-type fashion, or they could give distributors the ability to offer standalone video services over other ISPs’ broadband networks.

Move Networks also still has some intellectual property that could be valuable in the future, as more and more companies turn to adaptive bit rate streaming for video delivery. In its last dispatch before the acquisition, Move Networks reported that it had received a patent for its adaptive bit rate streaming technology, suggesting that Akamai, (s AKAM) Apple, (s AAPL) Adobe, Limelight, (s LLNW) Microsoft, Netflix (s NFLX) and Widevine all use technology “inspired” by its invention. It’s possible that Echostar could seek to enforce the intellectual property that it now owns.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but we’ve reached out to both Echostar and Move representatives for comment, and will update this post if we hear back.

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