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
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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