Last week was Hackweek here at JW Player. Every six months we put aside all non-critical engineering work for one week so that our engineers and technical staff can experiment with new ideas. In some cases, these projects are not even directly related to their everyday work.
Imagine that you operate a YouTube channel with over 8 million subscribers. This would rank you among the top 500 publishers on YouTube, which means your content would be wildly popular, far surpassing the viewership most cable networks, especially among the coveted 18-24 year-old male demographic. Surprisingly, the ad revenue from your channel doesn't make you obscenely rich, but it provides a nice living, as they say, for you and the small staff of millennials you pay to create the videos.
You'd also imagine that your army of fans would make you popular with YouTube itself, since they are taking up to 45% of your copious ad revenue.
You would be wrong.
Readers of this blog may have seen my recent posts about the new AV1 video codec from the Alliance for Open Media (see "An Encouraging Development in the HEVC Patent Mess" and "AV1: The Long Road Ahead"). If you are attending Streaming Media East next week, you can watch me and some friends from Bitmovin, Viacom, fuboTV and Littlstar discuss and debate AV1, HEVC and other developments that lie ahead on the video compression horizon.
My interest in virtual reality started in 3rd grade, when I was obsessed with a book called Danny Dunn, Invisible Boy. It's about a kid who is given a dragonfly robot that can be controlled with a "telepresence helmet" and gloves. He uses his ability to virtually exist in other places to enforce justice, specifically exposing a Spelling Bee cheater and preventing the dragonfly from falling into the hands of people with sinister motives.
Earlier this month, HEVC Advance announced changes to their royalty fees for commercial use of the HEVC video compression standard. In short, these changes will make it essentially free to distribute video content on the Internet using the HEVC codec. Previously the content royalty rate was a complex matrix of rates by content type (subscription, title-by-title, etc), but it boiled down to potentially millions of dollars per year.
Last month, Apple became a founding member of the Alliance for Open Media (AOM), the project that manages development of the emerging AV1 video codec, "a next-generation video format that is . . . interoperable and open,” according to the AOM website.
The story originated simply from the word "Apple" suddenly appearing on the AOM website, yet within the video tech community it was seen as a seismic shift in the video tech industry.
Last month, my ten year-old son showed me a stark message displayed on our Fire TV: "Starting on 2018-01-01, YouTube will not be available on this device."
To my son, YouTube and oxygen are basically the same thing, so the idea of either being "not available" is cause for a crisis. He demanded not only an explanation, but a solution.
A Google search provided us with the explanation: an ongoing spat between Amazon and Google (which owns YouTube). We had to wait a few days for Amazon to provide the solution: open YouTube in a web browser.
Yes indeed, there are two web browsers available on Fire TV. My son and I can verify that YouTube works great in both of them, no app required.
This incident touched on an important technology trend. Despite what people have been saying for the past five years, the web is not 'dying' at the hands of native apps.