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Summary:

This week, we feature Eddie Codel, who, following a stint on the Ustream staff this year, is now a freelance videographer with an impressive resume and a livestreaming emphasis. Among other things, he dishes today about the technical hurdle preventing live-streaming from taking over the world.

eddie codel

Five Questions With… time, guys! This week, we feature Eddie Codel, the co-founder of Geek Entertainment TV who, following a stint on the Ustream staff this year is now a freelance videographer with an impressive resume and an emphasis on livestreaming. Below, he discusses the big technical hurdle preventing live-streaming from truly taking over the world, but won’t say what kind of live videos he really likes.

1. What’s the one big issue/law/attitude/restriction that you think is
holding back the industry?

Portable bandwidth. As Justin.tv CEO Michael Seibel noted on the livestreaming panel at NewTeeVee Live, there’s so much interesting event-based content happening that doesn’t take place in front of a broadband-connected computer. Getting bandwidth out to where events are taking place is what needs to happen. Your options currently are to use a mobile phone on a 3G network or roll a satellite truck. Mobile phone quality is simply not good enough and satellite trucks begin at $5k just to roll one. There needs to be more cost effective portable technologies that can stream video over broadband speeds from anywhere.

Solving this problem will enable livestreaming for a host of applications such as citizen journalism, outdoor festivals, field research, cycling races, high school & college sports, road trip adventures, sailing, nature tours and a ton of long-tail stuff that I could never imagine.

2. What industry buzzword do you never want to hear again?

The term “live stream” used to annoy me when I worked at Ustream. It wasn’t because I thought it was an inaccurate representation or anything, but because our competitor was savvy enough to grab the domain name and re-brand itself as a generically accepted term for the industry. It’s quite brilliant, really.

3. If someone gave you $50 million to invest in a company in this space, which one would it be? (Mentioning your own doesn’t count.)

LiveU or a solid competitor. LiveU solves the portable bandwidth problem. They make devices that can bond up to 14 cellular data modems across multiple network carriers letting you transmit up to full 1080i HD video back to any live stream service or CDN. Both Ustream and Livestream use LiveU’s “live packs” for event broadcasts. These packs need to become cheaper and more ubiquitous. LiveU just raised a C round of $11 million 10 days ago, though, so maybe they don’t need another $50 million.

Mushroom Networks is another company that makes devices that bond multiple cell phone data modems, though they don’t optimize for live video. Maybe they could use the $50 million to do that.

4. What was the last video (that you weren’t personally involved with) that you liked enough to spread to others?

I share produced videos much more than live streams. Maybe that’s indicative of the fleeting nature of live content or me just not wanting others to find out the kind of live videos I like.

The last live video: the TEDxSOMA event in September.

Produced video: Life on Facebook

A LIFE ON FACEBOOK from maxluere on Vimeo.

A LIFE ON FACEBOOK from maxluere on Vimeo.

5. WILD-CARD: The livestreaming market has exploded over the last year or so, with tremendous growth for live-streaming companies and other entities like YouTube trying to move into the space. What is it about live-streaming that’s lead to such a tremendous uptake? And what role do you think live-streaming will eventually play in the online video marketplace?

A few things: Ubiquitous broadband combined with inexpensive, yet powerful home computers lay the foundation. The proliferation of mobile phones with cameras and broadcast streaming apps is a big factor. On top of that, the explosion of Twitter and Facebook as a way to share and discover content has been a boon to all the major live streaming platforms. Also, celebrities embracing these services, I think, has brought in new viewers and helped legitimize live streaming as a mainstream outlet for entertainment.

I do think live streaming will continue to grow, especially as mobile device quality and portable bandwidth increases. As boring as it sounds, we’ll see tons of people stream their daily commutes to work just as readily as people upload cat videos to YouTube today. And in one of those commute videos we’ll discover the next Susan Boyle or Merton.

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  1. 3G is bad, and 4G will only make matters worse. We’re still gratifying ourselves with a placebo when we buy into multi-carrier multi-modem (MCMM) bundling pipe dream, because a ginormous event creams the backbone of the internet. Granted, MCMM will work in many situations, yet not very well in the most important of public events. When livestreaming from an event where thousands of every carriers’ cel phones are getting their fair timeshare slices, bundled MCMM livepacks won’t save the day. Until we have an institutional, cultural, legal, and sociological restructuring of the telecommunications industry, the barriers to ubiquitous livestreaming, where you want, when you want, and how you want … simply can’t happen inside of an affordable regime.

    If you’re confused, go back and look at the NTVLive V.C. panel from 2009. Bill Gurley’s argument about capital formation applies to the uplink backbone problem. The same issue has been rehashed endlessly in MediaPost’s OMMA Online Video conferences, from many distinct perspectives. They all say that “Money Talks…”

    I wish it wasn’t like this, because I provide a lot of livestreaming services into big events, too, such as NewTeeVeeLive … but I’ve given up and seeing the problem resolved comprehensively at any time soon..

    1. Rich, I agree it isn’t a perfect solution and yes, large scale events where carrier networks are saturated are a huge problem. That said, LiveU’s stuff works amazingly well, I’ve produced dozens of events with their livepacks and would recommend them for the right event.

      1. We have produced quite a few streams this year and I think in terms of mobile portability problem.. The use of event specific large private wifi networks that will allow us to use an Ipone/Android with an http://www.wantowle.com/ .. will be better cost affective solution and drive more innovation.

        We had over 1,000,000 unique viewers this year partnering with Justin.tv/driftstream . We did test there mobile app in terms of streaming at the last two events and we noticed a markable improvement when we were streaming with decent bandwidth compared to 3g. We also noticed that compared to Ustream’s , J.tv and Qik mobile apps.. J.tv’s was a much cleaner stream for some reason.

        my. 02

        Thanks for the great interview..

  2. Great point about the connection between expensive portable broadband and scarce citizen journalism. I wonder how close we are to cheaper sat broadband (the next generation of region BGAN nets like inmarsats.) Renting a portable uplink shouldn’t be rocket science (even though maybe it is today!)

    1. I ran into Ziv Gillat (Mr. Eye-Fi) at the Canaan Partners Web2.0 After Dark soiree while I was drooling over the LiveU backpack, and admiring its’ ability to jump past over-crowded cels (when less crowded cels nearby are available). Ziv said that the better solution is coming out at CES, a tablet computer from Verizon with an array of 4 4G modems that produce a symmetrical uplink and downlink of 100mbps in both directions (enough cojones to stream a REDD or a next generation IMAX camera without a hiccup. That so thoroughly blows away the current generation of HD Streaming Backpacks, that it’s just plain hysterical.

      1. I’ll believe when I’ve used it. Verizon admits that their 4G network won’t be fully rolled out until 2013. Just because a link is fast, doesn’t mean it’s optimized for streaming video. That’s a different problem altogether. Cool stuff, can’t wait to be proved wrong.

  3. Mushroom Networks has a product line that is specifically designed for live video delivery, named TelePorter which is a small attachment to a camera. Thank you for Eddie Codel for recognizing the space as an opportunity.
    Cheers,

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