Verizon to Make Video Streaming Cheaper, Easier

Verizon (s VZ) is offering up a new, automated way for over-the-top video providers to reduce the costs associated with creating and delivering video streams to a growing number of video-enabled networks and devices. Whether it be new mobile devices like the iPad or a growing number of Internet-connected TVs, the new Verizon digital media offering will enable media companies to reach consumers on whatever device they’re using, without having to create hundreds of different files and pay for petabytes of video traffic delivered.

David Rips, president of the newly formed Verizon Digital Media Services division, said in a phone interview that the new technology platform is designed to reduce the cost and complexity of IP-based video delivery. Rather than having to encode multiple versions of a video file and having to deliver it to different types of devices and networks, Verizon Digital Media Services is designed to provide an automated way to reach end users wherever they want to view a piece of content.

“[Media companies] are desperate to reduce cost, meet consumer demand and create new types of content,” Rips said.

Verizon hopes that by using its IP backbone practically to the customer’s last mile connection, it can also ensure a higher quality of video than would be available if streams were routed over the broader Internet. The feeds are being delivered on a unicast basis, but the solution does away with much of the duplication of bits that happens under traditional IP delivery, especially when one considers live video feeds with multiple simultaneous viewers.

In addition to being inefficient and expensive, Rips said delivering high-quality video feeds in the classic IP model on a large scale would “break the Internet.” According to Rips, today’s routers are not prepared to deal with the onslaught of video content that would come from a Super Bowl-sized audience consuming IP-delivered video. The Verizon Media Services offering, in contrast, seeks to solve the problem of delivering to multiple networks by leveraging the operator’s backbone network and distributing content out to edge nodes close to the end user.

The solution is still in early test phases, but Verizon is working with an impressive group of trial customers. According to Rips, that includes four of the five largest broadcasters, one major and one minor studio, and one of the largest web video portals. The press release names Turner Broadcasting, (s TWX) Hearst Magazines and The Associated Press as initial customers exploring use of the service.

While Verizon is going after major media companies first, it says it will remain agnostic to the customers that might be interested in leveraging its digital media services. If a competing cable operator or IPTV provider wanted to use the solution, it could do so. Same goes for Netflix (s NFLX) Hulu, iTunes (s aapl) or another major over-the-top video distributor.