The rate of evolution in the digital video space is increasing. The first American television broadcast was on July 12, 1928. 26 years later (1954), the first color broadcast of the Tournament of Roses Parade occurred. 17 years later, in 1971, the U-matic video cassette recorder (VCR) was released for commercial use. It took another 10 years for Betamax and VHS to become mainstream consumer options, around 22 years from when the first color broadcast occurred. Then, tape-based technology moved to laser disc, DVD, Blue-ray and so on and so forth. This was the era of physical media and distribution—where the rough rate of innovation was 20 to 25 years—driven by media/device adoption, standards acceptance and content availability.
Laying the foundation for digital video, encoding and IP delivery
In the late 80s and 90s, a number of companies that focused on audio and video encoders were founded. As the Internet evolved, these companies quickly shifted to online streaming. A couple of note are Xing Technology, founded in 1989 (and where I worked from ‘94–’96), and Progressive Networks (now RealNetworks), founded in 1994. When these streaming platforms were launched, VHS was still the most popular form of distribution and consumption. Then, DVD became mainstream in the late 90s. So, even though digital video was around in the 90s, it really didn’t take off. The quality wasn’t great, bandwidth rates were still measured in “baud” rates (bits per second) and content was limited; but, the building blocks for digital video creation and consumption were now out in the wild.
Making it easier for consumption, quality of service, UI and mobile
Arguably, I attribute the start of the digital video era to the launch of YouTube in 2005, the first Amazon video on-demand service in 2006 and Netflix launching their on-demand service in 2007. That was only 15 years ago. The services were rough with limited content, but the emphasis on enhancing the user interface, making it easier for users to find and consume content, was a primary focus. Just look at the rate of evolution since then. Services like TikTok launched only 3 years ago in 2017 and has 800 million active users. Disney+, which launched less than a year ago, already has 54.5M subscribers. The evolution from tape to DVD took roughly 12–15 years. Today, the rate of adoption for a successful service may take as little as 1–3 years. Now, maybe you have a different opinion on the timelines and timeframes, but I think we can all agree that it is easier now for services to launch and rapidly scale. The question is why and how.
Streamlining digital video workflows accelerates service adoption
Underlying infrastructure and accelerated content creation workflows are key ingredients for ensuring successful digital video projects and on-demand service. In our next Brews & Bytes episode, titled The Evolution of Media Management. Ryan Meek, Caringo Principal Solutions Architect, and I will talk to Sam Bogoch, CEO of axle.ai, which makes software to simplify remote media access and search, about this topic. Sam has an impressive and unique perspective from his experiences which include holding various roles at Avid and as the co-founder of axle.ai, and other companies including BigStorage, a linux-based open storage systems.