Digital Movie Traffic on the Akamai Network Increases Three Fold
- Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: AKAM), the leader in powering video, dynamic transactions and enterprise applications online, today announced that leading movie distribution companies rely on Akamai's global EdgePlatform to ensure high quality movie delivery experiences online. Akamai customers including EPIX TM, Netflix and Roxio CinemaNow TM are delivering HD quality movies on Akamai's uniquely distributed edge delivery network that is specifically tuned for optimal delivery of HD files online. Traffic across Akamai's network associated with the delivery of full-length feature films has seen triple digit growth since November 2009, which Akamai believes to represent not only an increase in consumer consumption, but more content being migrated onto its platform. Akamai's global network footprint and deep, category-specific experience delivering long-form, high definition video positions the company squarely to create tremendous value in this rapidly evolving market segment.
As the movie industry begins to make more of their movie libraries available digitally, a number of technology challenges emerge in order to deliver the highest-quality possible experience online, including:
Smooth Playback - Ensuring that feature length movies play back uninterrupted in their entirety despite unpredictable and fluctuating Internet connections;
Highest Bitrates - Allowing for high-throughput Internet connections whether downloading or streaming large files. Because distance decreases available throughput, movie files need to be delivered very close to where content is accessed and to support primetime level viewing audiences at high bitrates would require 100 Tbps of scalability; and,
Interactivity - Offering interactive content, social media and shopping experiences, that create heavy load on the Internet and require frequent round-trips back to databases or site servers, while keeping performance and download wait times low.
On the business side, content owners need:
Security - technology that can reliably protect high value digital content from being inappropriately accessed; and,
Analytics - to quickly and easily understand exactly how movies are being consumed and through which partners.
Numerous industry studies have shown that without meeting the challenges noted above, online audiences will become impatient, tune out, and find premium HD content that works elsewhere. Inherent in the value of the Akamai HD Network and EdgePlatform is the ability to deliver full-length feature films at up to full 1080p HD resolution, provide an engaging user experience, security features for protecting content, and detailed audience analytics for tracking engagement. Leveraging Akamai's global footprint of more than 61,000 servers for instant scalability and highest throughput, a key feature of the Akamai HD Network is adaptive bit rate technology that automatically adapts to a user's fluctuating Internet conditions to enable smooth playback and improved viewing experiences.
In addition, Akamai's proprietary acceleration technologies are designed to dramatically speed up dynamic transactions and accelerate applications, which is critical to enabling the new social experiences possible through BluRay Live as well as storefronts and other dynamic content that needs to run over the Internet. The Akamai HD Network offers multiple security measures, which can be used for protecting premium media such as films, including authentication, geographic blocking, player verification, transport encryption and is compatible with industry-leading DRM technologies.
With traditional movie distribution models, there is a longer consumer reaction and feedback timeline. With broadband delivery, the distributer is connected to the consumer in real time, and the additional data points this results in are invaluable to studios and distribution partners alike. Akamai Media Analytics, part of the Akamai HD Network, is designed to give online movie distribution companies vast amounts of interactive, consumer behavior data in real time. Using Akamai Media Analytics, studios create a feedback loop, which is full of rich online data allowing them to make precise and data-driven product development and feature enhancement decisions, entirely based on consumer insight.
"Akamai has been preparing for this demand and influx of large HD content for years on our network; the capacity to deliver high throughput files exists at the edge and we are already delivering such files for many of our leading customers," said Steven Chester, Vice President, Film at Akamai. "We strive to provide a digital distribution channel that allows distribution companies to experiment with new services and promotions, fully capitalize on unplanned growth and grow their business, without high up-front capital costs. This technical capability, coupled with consumer demand, is exciting for the industry."
Consumer appetites are growing as access to premium content continues and as a result, consumption patterns are increasing. According to a February 2010 ComScore Video Metrix report**, online video views grew from 14.8 billion in January 2009 to 33.2 billion in December 2009. A June 2009 PriceWaterhouseCoopers report*** projected that online rental subscriptions will reach $4.5B in 2013 and digital downloads will grow from $253M in 2008 to $753M in 2013.
EPIX, the premium channel formed by Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA and VIA.B), its Paramount Pictures unit, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM) and Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), has been using Akamai since the company's October 2009 launch to deliver and manage its full-length HD movies. EPIX is the leading next-generation, multi-platform entertainment service, delivering the latest movie blockbusters, new releases, library classics and original content across its premium, HD television channel, video-on-demand service and on the EpixHD.com website. EPIX supported a successful public launch of its service by leveraging a full suite of Akamai solutions, including dynamic streaming, Akamai Professional Services, Akamai NetStorage, Akamai's Open Video Player, Akamai EdgeScape for geotargeting and Akamai Media Analytics. EPIX delivers more than 200 full-length HD movie experiences online with the quality, speed and convenience demanded by today's consumers of digital media. Movie playback on EPIX seamlessly adapts to end-user machines with different capabilities, such as lower processing powers or slower Internet connections, giving consumers a smooth, uninterrupted playback experience online without sacrificing viewing quality.
"Customers are demanding to watch movies online," said Thomas Carpenter, vice president of operations and digital chief of staff for EPIX. "At EPIX, we are focused on enabling broadband delivery of our products, while preserving the cinematic quality of our titles. Akamai's first-rate distribution network, advanced technologies and dedicated professionals let us do just this deliver a truly movie-worthy, HD experience to our viewers in the broadband medium."
Sonic Solutions® (NASDAQ: SNIC), is leveraging Akamai to support its Roxio CinemaNow digital entertainment services, as the company's entertainment platform continues to expand its reach and deliver entertainment services to more connected devices. Akamai has supported a 93 percent increase in movie downloads by Sonic since November.
"The Roxio CinemaNow entertainment platform is helping to create a powerful new distribution channel for content owners and generate new opportunities for retailers and consumer electronic device manufacturers to connect with consumers," said Mark Ely, executive vice president of Strategy, Sonic Solutions. "Akamai is an important ally that allows us to meet the needs of our partners and ensure the highest quality viewing experience for the end user, regardless of where they are accessing and enjoying content."
Sonic relies on Akamai to power video streaming and downloads and to support the increasing demand for Roxio CinemaNow services that has resulted from the company's recent partnerships that have enabled thousands of new customers for Sonic. Sonic is leveraging Akamai's file download optimization for the storage of large files, as well as its Dynamic Site Accelerator to support new dynamic elements of the Roxio CinemaNow platform. The Akamai EdgePlatform help services like Roxio CinemaNow deliver large files efficiently with increased performance for end users who are downloading large multi-gigabyte files and increased download completion rates.
Akamai's Unique Architecture for High Throughput Media
To create a synonymous movie viewing experience in the online world, a 2-hour feature-length movie would need to be encoded at a bit rate of at least 6-8 Mbps, which would result in the file being a size of 5-8 GB. This presents numerous technical challenges to deliver such a high-quality, large file. For instance, delivering a file encoded at 6 Mbps to an audience of one Nielsen ratings point (1,102,000 households) would require 6.6 Terabits of sustained bandwidth, and that doesn't even take into account latency and network congestion.
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 an example, the only way to achieve 10 to 20 Mbps throughput for typical PC end-users is if the server is less than 20 milliseconds away. The more latency, the longer it takes to download the file, which interrupts the viewing experience and results in a poor end-user experience. Compared with other centralized models, Akamai believes that the high quality content delivery services offered across its network is unmatched on a global scale
The Akamai Difference
Akamai® provides market-leading managed services for powering video, dynamic transactions, and enterprise applications online. Having pioneered the content delivery market one decade ago, Akamai's services have been adopted by the world's most recognized brands across diverse industries. The alternative to centralized Web infrastructure, Akamai's global network of tens of thousands of distributed servers provides the scale, reliability, insight and performance for businesses to succeed online. Akamai has transformed the Internet into a more viable place to inform, entertain, interact, and collaborate. To experience The Akamai Difference, visit www.akamai.com.
*January 2010 Screen Digest research, **February 5, 2010 comScore, Inc. December 2009 data from the comScore Video Metrix service, ***PricewaterhouseCoopers' Global Entertainment & Media Outlook:
Akamai Statement Under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act
The release contains information about future expectations, plans and prospects of Akamai's management that constitute forward-looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions under The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors including, but not limited to, the effects of any attempts to intentionally disrupt our services or network by hackers or others, changes in Netflix's technologies or to Akamai's streaming technologies such that they are no longer inter-operable, failure of our services to operate as expected, a failure of Akamai's network infrastructure, and other factors that are discussed in Akamai's Annual Report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, and other documents periodically filed with the SEC.