Microsoft Nixes Support for VP8 — Before It’s Even Released

On Microsoft’s (s MSFT) IE blog this morning, Dean Hachamovitch, general manager for Internet Explorer, reiterated his support for HTML5 and H.264 as the codec of choice for web video shown through the next generation of its web browser, IE9. On first blush, Microsoft’s backing H.264 in the upcoming software release seems a strike at Adobe (s ADBE) and its proprietary Flash player. But read between the lines, and it seems that Microsoft is sending a clear message to Google (s GOOG) and anyone else that might be thinking about employing VP8 for web video.

Microsoft announced its support for HTML5 and H.264 encoding in IE9 last month at the company’s MIX10 developers conference. By doing so, Microsoft joined the growing list of companies, including Apple and Google, that had thrown their weight behind the codec. But Hachamovitch went a step further this morning, writing that in its support for HTML5, Microsoft’s new browser will “support playback of H.264 video only” (emphasis added). Read More about Microsoft Nixes Support for VP8 — Before It’s Even Released

Apple May Be Gunning for Open Source Codecs

The latest indication that Apple is trying to strong-arm publishers to adopt HTML5 and H.264 came today, as Steve Jobs reportedly claimed by email that a patent pool was being assembled to “go after” Ogg Theora and other open source codecs.

Vid-Biz: Broadcast Upfronts, Howcast, Cord Cutters

Broadcast Networks Set for 20% Gain in Upfront Market; ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox should net approximately $8.26 billion in prime-time advertising commitments, up 20% from the $6.88 billion in 2009, according to research from Barclays. (AdAge)

Howcast Is Now Available on BlackBerry; the DIY video firm already had apps for the iPhone and Android, but announced the launch of its Howcast for BlackBerry application today. (Howcast blog)

One in Eight to Cut Cable, Satellite TV in 2010; a study by The Yankee Group found that many will choose to drop premium channels or cut their service down to a basic package, while others will choose to cut off their service completely. (

How to Pitch a YouTube Viewer; web video tracker TubeMogul evaluated the views generated by 10 different video ads, and found that users like ads with talking babies. (MediaMemo)

Apple Didn’t Kill Flash, HTML5 Did; The problem for Flash isn’t that it can’t adapt to contain other types of video; it is that software and hardware, particularly on the mobile side, have moved in a direction that natively supports the playback of H.264 content. (Mashable)

WaPo Plans Hundreds of LiveTV Shows from Newsroom Staff; The Washington Post is launching a platform for hundreds of reporters to host their own live programs live from their desks on a Webcam, via a simple interface with the Post’s content management system. (Beet.TV)

Surprise! iPad Users Watch Even More Video Than We Thought

A lot of our readers were skeptical when some very early — but very impressive — iPad video viewership data was released by MeFeedia. A little less than a week after the Apple (s AAPL) tablet device was released, MeFeedia reported that iPad users watched two and a half times as many videos as typical web users, and watched video three times longer than those users.
Well, it’s now a few weeks into the iPad’s existence, and it turns out that, as early adopters get used to the device and more mainstream users begin buying the tablet, they’re using it for video even more than originally thought. According to new data from MeFeedia, the iPad is now the fifth most popular mobile device for viewing video, surpassing BlackBerry (s rimm) devices. Now the iPad, nearly a million units of which have been sold in less than three weeks, according to some estimates, trails only the iPhone, iPod touch, SymbianOS (s NOK) and Android (s GOOG) devices in terms of videos viewed. Read More about Surprise! iPad Users Watch Even More Video Than We Thought

Could an Open Source VP8 Overtake H.264?

With the news that Google plans to open source On2’s VP8 codec next month, there’s been a lot of talk about whether or not it can emerge as the “one codec to rule them all,” as my colleague Stacey Higginbotham tweeted just a few days ago. Certainly an open source VP8 may go a long way toward making Ogg Theora, a competing open source codec that also sprung from On2 technology, obsolete. But questions remain about whether VP8 will be adopted outside the open source community, and whether or not it can compete with H.264, which has become the de facto industry standard for web video encoding.
The good news is that VP8 is a huge step forward from Ogg Theora, which was spawned from a codec On2 developed nearly a decade ago to package web video for for users with as little bandwidth as 200kbps. In terms of quality, Theora provided little competition for H.264, which is supported by Adobe (s ADBE) for Flash, Microsoft for (s MSFT) Silverlight, and Apple (s AAPL) for its streaming and downloadable video files. For HTML5 video, H.264 also has been adopted by Google’s (s GOOG) Chrome browser, Apple Safari, and will be supported by the latest version of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, IE9. There’s just one problem: H.264 is the property of license holder MPEG LA, which spooks open source advocates like the Mozilla Foundation — maker of the Firefox web browser.
For the open source crowd, VP8 provides a viable alternative to Ogg Theora and H.264; once Google releases it to the public, it will combine quality that is comparable to H.264 with the openness that companies like Mozilla desire. Sam Blackman, CEO of encoding firm Elemental Technologies, wrote in an email that VP8 “is certainly a reasonably good codec that is on par with H.264. I think it will see immediate adoption in PC browsers and is absolutely going to help HTML5 get traction faster.” Read More about Could an Open Source VP8 Overtake H.264?

Elemental Live Shakes Up the Economics of Video Streaming

Elemental Technologies today unveiled the latest version of its video encoding platform, aimed at giving video distributors a more efficient way to encode live and on-demand video streams. With a GPU-accelerated processing system and proprietary algorithms for video encoding, the new Elemental Live system is designed to lower the cost of streaming video to multiple platforms and devices.

Elemental Live can encode up to four simultaneous 1080p HD video feeds or eight simultaneous 720p streams in a single platform. That’s important for today’s media publishers, which are increasingly moving to adaptive bitrate technologies that require multiple encodes of a single feed. Encoding multiple versions of a stream at different bitrates allows the video to adjust to changing network conditions, showing the highest-quality stream available to an end user at any given time.

Read More about Elemental Live Shakes Up the Economics of Video Streaming

NBC Will Also Be Ready for the iPad

We already know ABC (s DIS) and CBS (s CBS) are working to make their TV shows available on the iPad, so what about the other two big broadcasters — Fox (s NWS) and NBC (s GE)? Well, Fox has yet to announce (or leak) its support for the device, and NBC has been equally mum. But let’s end any speculation on the latter’s plans right now — video will work on the iPad, because it works on the iPhone.

This isn’t just idle speculation: Anyone with an iPhone or iPod Touch can cruise over to right now and watch full-length episodes of popular TV shows, such as 30 Rock, The Office, and Parks and Recreation, as well as promotional clips and short-form video from Saturday Night Live and NBC’s late-night talk shows. To deliver those videos to the iPhone, NBC has encoded them in the H.264 format, which works with Apple’s Quicktime player to display the hilarious hi-jinx of Liz Lemon, Michael Scott and others on the mobile device. Read More about NBC Will Also Be Ready for the iPad

Vid-Biz: Hulu, Isohunt, Next New Networks

Hulu Goes to the Movies (That You’ve Never Heard Of); Yesterday marked the first time a “feature film” appeared on Hulu before running anywhere else, but only because In The Darkness is hardly a feature film. (MediaMemo)

Isohunt Ordered to Remove Infringing Content; a U.S. judge is ordering Isohunt to remove all infringing content, which could cause it to shut down. (Wired)

Next New Networks Acquires Seven Series in Revenue-Sharing Deal; the shows include the “Tamra Davis Cooking Show,” Rossella Rago’s “Cooking with Nonna,” Julian Jackson’s “JR SportBrief,” Brian Barcyk’s “Snake Bytes TV,” and a yet-to-be-named animated series from the makers of “Landline TV.” (ClickZ)

MeFeedia Adds HTML5 Ad Support; the All Player for HTML5 is designed to deliver consistent, high-quality video ads across any screen –- including Web, Internet-connected TV platforms and mobile devices. (MeFeedia blog)

EPIX Gains Traction With ‘TV Everywhere’ Model; with upcoming launches with Charter, Cox and Mediacom, new premium network EPIX has culled some early traction with its multi-platform distribution strategy. (Light Reading Cable)

BBC Online Video News Views Up 25 Percent in Four Months; the BBC has found a growing audience for online news in the U.K., with some 5 million unique visitors watching 28 million videos in January, according to the latest numbers from comScore. (Beet.TV)

SeaChange To Serve Up Web Video; SeaChange International has developed a video-on-demand server — dubbed the Universal Media Streamer — that serves traditional VOD as well as Web and mobile video formats. (Multichannel News)

U.S. Households Using PCs and Game Consoles to Extend Online Video to the TV; research firm Parks Associates found consumer interest in Web-on-TV applications is so strong that households are making their own connections via PCs and game consoles. (press release)

Are Publishers Ready to Embrace the iPad — Without Ads or Analytics?

With the launch of the Apple (s AAPL) iPad just a few days away, many web video publishers are already getting ready for the device by rolling out new video pages that will support HTML5 web video delivery. But delivery is the easy part — once a video is transcoded into the necessary H.264 format, anyone can transfer an HTTP file to the device through progressive download. What’ll be more difficult for web video publishers is tracking how many viewers watched videos on the iPad, and actually monetizing those videos.

The problem is that HTML5 is still in its infancy, and as a result heavily lags behind Adobe (s ADBE) Flash for features that many video publishers already take for granted. Adobe and members of the Flash video ecosystem have spent the last several years building out tools to improve in-stream advertising, real-time video analytics and other features, which many media companies now consider “table stakes” for publishing in today’s web video world. But as a nascent web standard, HTML5 falls well short in many of the areas that publishers depend on. Read More about Are Publishers Ready to Embrace the iPad — Without Ads or Analytics?