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Summary:

It’s highly appropriate that Neokast, the still-mysterious streaming video startup, is showing a bit of its chops by supporting a live stream of some eagles hatching in the wild. Cautiously, slowly, Neokast is emerging from the egg, almost ready to fly. Yet we’re still not sure […]

It’s highly appropriate that Neokast, the still-mysterious streaming video startup, is showing a bit of its chops by supporting a live stream of some eagles hatching in the wild.
eagles1.jpg

Cautiously, slowly, Neokast is emerging from the egg, almost ready to fly. Yet we’re still not sure what’s going to keep this bird aloft. And we promise, thus endeth the bad nature-flick metaphors.

Following their public intro via a highly laudatory profile from tech headliner Robert X. Cringely, the Neokast gang played to rave reviews at the VON show in San Jose in mid-March. Since then, according to Neokast team members we spoke with Thursday, it’s been non-stop meeting-taking and working-on-the-now-overdue beta coding, while trying to get some word out about their planned personal streaming technology without giving too much away before it’s really ready.

“Don’t be surprised when you hear some big business-related news from us in the next couple months,” said Adam Johnson, Neokast CEO, in a Skype-based conference call Thursday that was arranged by Neokast folks, who seemed like they wanted to talk more… but then couldn’t. What is next on the probable horizon? Maybe a video portal deal, since Johnson did say “there are definitely companies out there, with portals, who are interested in using Neokast on the back end.” At least one thing is clear — Neokast isn’t planning on being a media company itself, but instead a technology enabler.

But what exactly is Neokast, and how does it work? Still a puzzle, though some of the pieces are emerging.

“We’re keeping the technology pretty tight,” said Johnson, which is a bit of a challenge since Neokast has to show some people what’s inside the kimono to start signing deals with real money attached. So far, the most concrete company info has emerged on the Neokast blog, where we recently learned that the company signed Jeff Jacobs, an alumni of Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Inc. production company (spell Harpo backwards) to help the Chicago-based gang of college whiz-kids sign business deals.

The blog is also where Neokast starts to tell a bit of how its implementation works — in an April 1 post (which it claims is not a joke) Neokast says it has “implemented an efficient multicast-type experience without turning on multicast support in the routers.” The post goes on to elaborate:

Unlike BitTorrent or Joost, our protocol is “polite.” Our “bread and butter” is our set of flow-control algorithms that help our Neokast Stream Player play well with networks and applications you’re currently running.

And more:

For example, we give a preference to local peers wherever possible, allowing a single copy of a live stream to come through your ISP gateway. This copy then ricochets around inside the local subnet, thus limiting the local ISP’s Internet bandwidth hit to be not much more than the typical 700kpbs. This trades inexpensive intranet bandwidth for much more expensive Internet bandwidth.

Finally:

We also use a varying combination of TCP and UDP packets which looks to your ISP a lot like web surfing. Our efficient protocol makes ISP “traffic shaping” completely unwarranted and unnecessary, since there is no additional “traffic” to be shaped. If anything, we could become a model for others to follow.

If nothing else, the Neokast lads know how to talk streaming video, and understand some of the market concerns. But they also understand that they can’t play the bemused college startup guys for too much longer, because other streaming options, like Ustream and Stickam, are supporting real people doing real things, instead of smoke, mirrors and eagles.

“There’s a lot going on with live streaming, and people are becoming more familiar with it,” said Johnson, lauding Justin.TV for finding “an underlying demand [for live streaming] that wasn’t visible before.”

What Neokast wants, Johnson says, is to make live-streaming technology available to a wide audience, business and consumers alike, to produce “potentially explosive results.” The next public display of Neokast streaming live stuff might come at the Silverlake Film Festival, where they are a sponsor and they say: “we have a bunch of Neokast-related fun plans… so stay tuned.”

Well, at NewTeeVee that’s all we do, is stay tuned. And… well, we’re waiting!

  1. Im in the Neocast closed beta and they dont have much content but they do offer content in various resolutions and show plenty of promise .

    One of the good things about Neocast is they are codec agnostic and a p2p transport technology as a much as they are a video content distribution platform and they focus on linear streaming of content as opposed to Video on demand like other p2p platforms .

    There are some concerns this is another download that is required but I have to remind people that Flash is also a plug-in that users have to download .

    I hope they roll out their Live streaming video platform in the near future to compete against the likes of Ustream ,Stickam and prove that p2p can provide better quality and lower costs compared to Limelight or Vitalstream .

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  2. [...] NewTeeVee: Neokast, a P2P streaming start-up offers some details [...]

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  3. In a recent presentation Joost also revealed that they try to use local peers.

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  4. something about this deosn’t make sense from a mathematical perspective.

    Multicast and P2P… this means they are using multiuple tree algorithms unlike mesh type algorithms used by chinese live streaming software. with this setup they occupy the upstream of teh user too much…. I just signed up to beta test and we will see

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  5. [...] More on Neokast: Neokast Blog The $7 TV Network: Neokast brings multicasting to the masses. Neokast, Emerging from the Shell [...]

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  6. [...] here is a short list of names that might come in handy: Babelgum, RawFlow, Jaman, Zattoo, and Neokast. Share/E-mail | Sphere | Print | Topic: Startups, Featured | Tags: CBS, Index Ventures, Janus [...]

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  7. [...] Chicago time, according to the company’s blog. Neokast, which we’ve written about a couple times before, says its QuicKast client “allows anyone to stream live to a broadcast, Internet [...]

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  8. [...] NewTeeVee: Neokast emerging from the Shell…  [...]

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  9. [...] Neokast, which made live-streaming P2P software, and received positive if unspecific coverage from this and other sites in early 2007. One writer in particular, Robert X. Cringely, pitched the startup as [...]

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