Thursday, October 20, 2005

Stream on, stream on...

On Tuesday a midday session on streaming was planned in the heart of Dutch broadcast Hilversum. No less than 360 people came to hear the state-of-art of streaming in the Netherlands.

There were a lot of stats. The public broadcast system in the Netherlands started in March 2004 for serious. In September 2005 it has 2,8 million streams, mainly used at night and in the weekend, peaking between 22.00h and 23.00h, requiring 800 Mbps to 1 Gbps. Last Friday the record was broken with a performance of Robbie Williams, requiring 1,2 Gbps. Mind you 54 per cent of the Dutch households, roughly 3,7 million households, have slow ADSL, fast ADSL (22Mbps) or glass fibre (10 to 100Mbps).

The road to broadband in the Netherlands started in 1998 when KPN started the experimental Snelnet (Fastnet) with 1000 households in Amsterdam. Main feature was Delayed TV. The latest news broadcast or program could be viewed at a late time than the actual broadcast. The next phase was FirstmileTV from 2003-2005. This broadband experiment had multicast IPTV of 5Mbps with MPEG2. Presently we have FirstmoverTV from 2005-2008. This will introduce HDTV with MPEG4.
If you look at the history from another angle, you can say:
1998-2004: bandwidth (1Mbps)
2004-2007: Compression (2Mbps)
2007-2010: Standards (10Mbps).

A counter claim was made by Dr Ir Johan Pouwelse. He is involved in the project I-Share, an academic project researching peer2peer networks. These networks will make it possible to get more material around than streaming. And the Netherlands will need that, the researcher claimed as in the Netherlands 20 to 25 per cent of the Internet traffic is generated by streams. But technology will also hinder further growth, as by 300.000 simultaneous streams the network would fail.

The new record of Madonna Hung Up, which will be published on Novermber 11, will get a download on Planet's Music Stream

Video and audio content fare well with streaming. Public Broadcast has a topper with Broadcast missed?, a site where programmes can be viewed at the viewer’s leisure. The Dutch RTV station VPRO has started its own broadcast stations on Internet with 3VOOR12; in September this station was visited more than 700.000 times. The Pop stage Paradiso and Melkweg in Amsterdam have started Fabchannel, a channel on which live concerts can be followed and archived concerts can be viewed at one’s own leisure. But also publishers are starting to use Internet for audio and video channels. Planet, the largest Dutch ISP, works on Planet TV with a company Zoom-in. The Dutch search engine Ilse has radio stations for audio weblogs. Sanoma Publishers has started to radio station for its women magazines. Also the youth’s radio station Radio538 has 200.000 downloads, mostly pod casts.

Remarkable was the statistic on attention span. The average viewing period is seven minutes per person per session. You almost ask yourself why you should produce video and audio content. Yet gradually but slowly the average is extending, be it for the time being with seconds.

Streaming of audio and video is still no profitable business in the Netherlands. The company shows advertisement before the video news item. Zoom-in TV has shown 30 million video news items via internet in the Netherlands by 7,5 million viewers. This is a growth rate of 50 per cent. The streaming of the items to mobile viewers goes out to less than 1.000 viewers.

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