What is a medianet?
As I discuss the potential of a medianet with more and more customers, and begin to see some first-generation applications of the concept, it becomes easier to answer the question that I get frequently – “What is a medianet?”A medianet knows what consumer devices are out there and where the request is coming from, and also knows when and how to deliver the right video stream. And, if the right video stream is not available, a medianet’s capabilities include “knowing” that it needs to transcode the video stream in an edge router or at a video hub, or embed it in a cell tower for mobile access.For broadcasters, a medianet means new opportunities to meet growing consumer demand for access to more video content. A medianet lets broadcasters boost the value of their content by enabling non-linear (on-demand) content consumption, targeted niche content, and delivery of rich media experiences across the TV, PC, and mobile device. A medianet lets broadcasters continue their current advertising-based distribution method while expanding the availability of video into new areas with the accompanying additional revenue streams.How do we make medianet a reality? It comes from virtualization, collaboration, globalization, and by being video focused. Virtualization requires the creation of data centers for centralized access to the large content libraries of broadcasters. In much the same way we collaborate internally, we have amped up our interaction with customers. This lets us discover where they are and where they want to be. Video is the key element. “Transforming the Video Experience” is our theme at NAB 2009 and a medianet is the way to do this. If video is the key element, global connectivity is its brother. Look at the way networks extend around the world. A medianet solution creates unparalleled opportunities to share and access content with no boundaries.We saw the impact of globalization when we worked with NBC on the 2008 Olympic Games. They set new records, with 3600 broadcast hours, or 212 hours a day. What’s more, viewers could use their PCs and laptops to access 2200 hours of on-demand video, as well as 3000 hours of highlights, rewinds, and encores. And people on the go could watch video and view results on their smartphones.Over the next 3-5 years, we think broadcast, cable and telco networks will evolve to become even more media aware. Collaboration will also drive the development of new services that we haven’t even thought of yet…things like watching HD or creating HD using your phone. We’re providing definition for what we have to do to the network and the control plain in the network. This drives what we have to do in standards bodies to make sure we don’t build a standard that will never let us take the next step forward, such as preventing us from putting a 720p, MPEG-4, HD stream to an iPhone.So, the long term view is a partnership, collaboration, a series of products, an architecture, but the concept is a consistent user experience between companies, between carriers, between consumers and the broadcasters and service providers. This will produce a medianet that delivers the seamless service integration for any media, to any device, at any location.