Innovative content providers participate in initiative to showcase the next generation online experience
Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: AKAM), the leading global service provider for accelerating content and applications online, today announced The HDWeb, a ‘proof-of-concept’ portal designed to showcase the experience consumers can have with high definition content online. The Website, available at http://www.thehdweb.com, showcases content from a variety of industries including music, movies, professional sports, games and news. Akamai customers are now delivering a consistent, high-definition video experience on Akamai’s uniquely distributed edge delivery platform that is specifically tuned for optimal delivery of high-definition (HD) files online. As an industry leader and pioneer in online video, Akamai has raised the bar for what a service provider must offer companies in order to deliver this content effectively and efficiently online today.
Companies providing HD content for the initiative include Apple, BBC Motion Gallery, CBS, Gannett, MTV Networks, NBA and more. The proof-of-concept portal will serve as a temporary Internet Programming Guide to HD video on the Web and provide access to a complete HD experience. These companies understand the value that HD content brings their brand and are ahead of the curve by offering HD programming online.
“Our audiences love watching their favorite music and pop-culture programs in HD, and at TheHDWeb.com, they can see sneak peaks of how The Hills and Run’s House will appear in the near future,” said Nick Rockwell, Senior Vice President and CTO, Global Digital Media, MTV Networks. “Akamai’s platform and unique network architecture are ideally suited to helping us deliver the exceptional HD experiences that our viewers demand. We look forward to expanding our long-standing and strategic relationship with Akamai, which has been a strong supporter of our major global events like the Video Music Awards.”
Consumer appetite and interest in premium quality online video has already arrived. Akamai has created a venue for Internet users to fully experience the possibilities of the HD Internet. Bringing together broadband ISPs, content providers, technology providers and consumer electronics manufacturers, this groundbreaking initiative is designed to build the framework to galvanize the industry around the potential of HD online.
Akamai’s goal is to provide high bandwidth consumers with a superior online HD experience and highlight the content providers that are pushing the industry forward. The HDWeb portal will:
- Bring together the most powerful brands online to showcase premium content
- Offer a glimpse into the ‘future’ of the Internet
- Engage audiences with higher quality video experiences
- Seed the market for premium content monetization strategies
- Show industry support and leadership around the move toward high-definition video
“This portal further showcases Akamai’s commitment to ensuring superior HD experiences for consumers and enabling innovative business opportunities for our ecosystem of content owners, network providers and video platform players,” said Brad Rinklin, vice president of marketing, Akamai. “Akamai’s edge architecture works with the access networks to provide the capacity to deliver high throughput files. Many of the companies participating in our HDWeb initiative have already seen growing demand in the broadcast world for increasing amounts of content in HD format, and understand that delivering the experience on the Web offers increased opportunity for brand immersion, content monetization and positive user experiences.”
“The NBA has a long history of utilizing high definition, as we recorded our first game in HD at the 1992 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte,” said Steve Hellmuth, Executive Vice President of Operations and Technology for NBA Entertainment. “As Akamai is now looking to bring the HD experience online through this innovative initiative, the NBA highlight package online in HD will be another great way for our fans to experience the excitement of our game.”
“We are proud of the work journalists at Gannett television stations across the country have done to pioneer compelling local news in high definition,” said Peter Lundquist, Vice President Content & Product Development for Gannett Digital. “They have brought stories of travel, hope, adventure and intrigue to viewers in a format that makes the experience that much more engaging and entertaining. The opportunity to be part of Akamai’s initiative and continue to showcase these efforts on the Web is exciting. We could not have offered this choice without Akamai’s unique infrastructure, and we look forward to working with them moving forward to bring high-quality video experiences to our viewers.”
A critical factor to enable high bit rate delivery of very large HD files is the proximity of the end-user to the server sending the file. As the distance from the server becomes greater, throughput dramatically decreases. Even a seemingly small distance can result in lost throughput due to lower throughput, higher packet loss, and increased latency. The more latency, the longer it takes to download the file, which can interrupt the viewing experience and result in a poor end-user experience. Akamai works closely with leading broadband ISPs to deploy servers directly in those networks to ensure that content is served closest to the end user for a superior HD experience. Compared with other centralized models, the results that Akamai’s network offers are unmatched on a global scale.
“The combination of Akamai servers with the power of Verizon’s all-fiber FiOS network – which leads the industry with downstream and upstream broadband speeds and high-quality TV – will result in a robust experience for our broadband customers accessing HD video online,” said Shaygan Kheradpir, Verizon CIO and executive vice president.
Akamai recently outlined technical criteria for delivering HD content on the Internet. Akamai has architected its platform to comply with the following technical criteria that content owners must leverage to successfully enable an HD Web. Akamai believes that it is the first and only platform to meet these technical requirements which include offering:
- Technology and an operational model to operate serving devices in the largest high-throughput networks around the world (servers need to be physically in the networks, as that is where the capacity lies)
- Established relationships with the largest high throughput networks
- Support for delivery, storage, and management of files greater than 2 Gigabytes
- Support of VC-1 and MPEG-4 video standards, achieving visual parity with other broadcast video networks
- Support for files with resolutions of 720p, 1080i and 1080p
- Client-side technology that is deeply integrated into its delivery system to be deployed as appropriate
Industry studies have shown that without meeting these criteria, online audiences will become impatient, tune out, and find premium HD content that works elsewhere. By ensuring these requirements are met, content providers are able to avoid slow or delayed downloads, the inability to serve HD content in its entirety, download interruptions, limited audience reach, and overall poor end-user satisfaction, which often accompany the download of large files. In addition, multi-player compatibility is crucial to meet the needs of a diverse end user community.
For more information about Akamai’s High Definition solution, please visit http://www.akamai.com/hdonline. Akamai has published two relevant whitepapers as well. To read “Highly Distributed Computing is Key to Quality on the HD Web” visit http://www.akamai.com/hdwp and to read “How Will the Internet Scale” visit http://www.akamai.com/dl/whitepapers/How_will_the_internet_scale.pdf
Akamai is the leading global service provider for accelerating content and applications online. Thousands of organizations have formed trusted relationships with Akamai, improving their revenue and reducing costs by maximizing the performance of their online businesses. Leveraging the Akamai EdgePlatform, these organizations gain business advantage today, and have the foundation for the emerging Web solutions of tomorrow. Akamai is “The Trusted Choice for Online Business.” For more information, visit http://www.akamai.com.