Akamai Live Streams in HD Its Live HD Streaming Announcement


Akamai (s AKAM) today is touting its efforts to enable live and on-demand HD streaming through what it’s now calling the Akamai HD Network. The platform uses Akamai’s existing network of HTTP servers and provides Silverlight, iPhone and Flash (yes, Flash in HTTP is an option) video. It includes adaptive bitrate streaming, a less than 1-second delay on time-shifting, Akamai’s open HD player and authentication.

What I found especially cool about this announcement is that Akamai live-streamed its presentation, led by CEO Paul Sagan, using the same technology it was announcing. While the webcast surely wasn’t attended by the “prime-time scale audience” he promised the new HD network can handle, it did look fantastic. I was also able to quickly step back and repeat a sequence when I couldn’t quite make out what they said they’re doing to accommodate advertising opportunities on the HD network (answer: not much in particular).

Here are two screenshots from the webcast — the first one is a shot of that ubiquitous nature film used in HD demonstrations, and the second shows a moment when the stream switched to a lower-bitrate version to accommodate my network conditions.



Noam Lovinsky

I may be incorrect, but Flash over HTTP is nothing new. Streaming from FMS via HTTP instead of RTMP is something new and it’s not out yet. All that Akamai is doing here is delivering video to a Flash player and choosing a stream once. Notice that the stream doesn’t switch up and down once you’ve started the Flash demo where it is constantly moving if you check out the Silverlight demo.

A number of companies offer adaptive bitrate HTTP delivery via Flash (e.g. Move, Ooyala, and Episodic) and they typically do so by chunking the file into smaller pieces and switching along the way.

Supposedly we may see Flash Streaming via HTTP with FMS 4.0, but that’s not what Akamai is selling. Again, I may be completely wrong, but this is my understanding.

Liz Gannes

Thanks Noam. I actually am not sure what they were using for the webcast — I will ask Akamai. However the screenshots I used, which seemed like they were clearly of different bitrates, were from the Flash demo.

Liz Gannes

@Noam – I checked and according to someone who worked on the webcast, the Flash stream was adaptive and went over HTTP.

Noam Lovinsky

@Liz – Very interesting. I assume though that this is not using Flash Media Server. That is, it’s progressive adaptive delivery to Flash and not “streaming” in the Flash Media Server sense. Similar to what Move, Ooyala and Episodic do, but I don’t see Akamai doing any chunking. Care to confirm with your contact at Akamai? ;-)


Two things about the money making part:
Akamai has a new patent that lets them fingerprint and companies can charge the user
Dynamic multimedia fingerprinting.
This is what Epix is going to use-download directly from MGM etc.
Also the shows that are downloaded can charge for normal
watch CSI and see the normal ads-Hulu does use Akamai

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