Conviva to Power (Some) NBC Streaming

Conviva has scored a non-exclusive multiyear deal to provide video distribution services to NBC Universal. The companies wouldn’t say which NBC properties would be involved or when, but an emailed press release had Darren Feher, NBCU executive VP and CTO, using the network’s web streaming of the Beijing Olympics as a reference point.

“Our experience with streaming the 2008 Summer Olympics provided us with more real-world knowledge about distributing live and video-on-demand (VOD) content online than any other broadcaster in the world… We also know too well the challenges – the quality, the unpredictable nature, and the costs – associated with live and high bit rate Internet broadcasting. Our diligence and testing of traditional solutions led us to Conviva because of their inventive approach combining distributed computing and quality of service (QOS) techniques to dynamic delivery of video streams on the Internet.”

So it seems possible that Conviva will be replacing Microsoft Silverlight for NBC’s next Olympics broadcast of the Vancouver games, though nobody would confirm that. Update 3/10: Now Conviva tells me it will not be replacing Silverlight for the Olympics, but rather providing distribution and management tools to run alongside it or Flash.

San Mateo, Calif.-based Conviva’s software is kind of like Move Networks’, except it’s an open platform that works with other people’s players and features. The company recently traded back its hired CEO, Carlos Ramón, for its founding CEO, Hui Zhang. Zhang, who had been chief scientist in the interim, is on leave from his professorship at Carnegie Mellon.

Conviva had earlier placed a focus on live broadcasting, though Zhang said initial talks with NBC last year inspired the company to broaden to other types of video distribution. He said NBC is looking to use Conviva to see if the online digital media experience match the scale and economics of broadcast.

When we looked at Conviva late last year it required installation of a plug-in to play video, but the company said it now also provides streams that can play without additional software.

Yahoo is also testing Conviva, as we reported in January. The startup has raised $29 million from UV Partners, New Enterprise Associates and Foundation Capital since being founded in November 2006.

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