Live P2P streaming protocol could potentially vastly improve audio streaming efficiency

Friday, February 17, 2012 - 10:00am

This week, at the SanFran MusicTech Summit, BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen demonstrated "P2P live streaming," which could potentially enable real-time video and audio streaming to millions of users without the need for a costly and high-performance central infrastructure.

While the focus for the P2P live streaming protocol is to make the heavy data loads of video events managable for Internet streaming, it could also potentially mean enormous savings for pure audio streaming, greatly reducing costs and allowing for higher bit-rate content (thus higher fidelity), more channels (for surround), etc. It should be noted that there have been other technologies that used a peer-to-peer style structure to decrease streaming costs and improve efficiency. But Cohen says he's rebuilt his technology from scratch, so his efforts may indeed the most advanced yet.

As you may know, BitTorrent was invented to make it easier to quickly distribute large files over the Internet. Instead of downloading an entire file from a single server, with BitTorrent, everyone accessing the file becomes (in BitTorrent parlance) a "swarm" of hosts, downloading and uploading fragments of the file from and to each other at the same time, until everyone has the complete file. GigaOm reports that BitTorrent (Cohen's company) is running "field tests" of weekly streaming live music events using the P2P protocol.

Read GigaOm's coverage here.

Triton's Agovino wants radio to go for new revenue with online listening, not traditional on-air budgets

Friday, December 2, 2011 - 12:25pm

Mike AgovinoTriton Media COO Mike Agovino "took to the blog" this week to point out that with October's Webcast Metrics, the total measured online listening audience has now passed 1.6 million "Average Active Sessions (AAS)" for the "workday" daypart (M-F 6A-8P). [AAS is Total Listening Hours (TLH) divided by hours in the reported time period. Similarly to Arbitron's "Average Quarter Hour," you can think of it as "the number of listeners at an average moment within the time period." ]

The online radio audience measured by Triton Webcast Metrics, Agovino says, is growing by about 100,000 AAS every 3 months (see the chart on the right). Should the industry be able to maintain that growth, Internet radio will have a 3 million AAS by 2015 -- 10% of radio's total audience.Webcast Metrics AAS quarterly trends

Agovino took the occasion to explain how  radio's current audience is worth $650-$900 million in revenue to the industry (between pre-roll audio/video ads, instream audio ads, and display ads with typical CPMs).

But he makes another point here too. You may know Arbitron is planning to roll out an "integrated audience" measurement system (see today's top story) -- to tally listening to radio whether its online or over-the-air. Arbitron wants to allow radio to present the online audience using the same traditional broadcast metrics, thereby enabling ad buyers to more easily extend their buys across both platforms. But instead of combining listening, Agovino wants radio to create a new revenue channel. He's suggesting broadcasters should be able to dip into both marketers' broadcast and interactive budgets alike.

"The dimensions of online audio expand the offering way beyond sound to include the interactive, targeting and visual benefits of online ads," he wrote. "Digital, mobile and social budgets are prime targets for this base of impressions... Selling the online audience with the on-air audience relegates publishers to fishing in the same revenue streams as they have always fished. These are not the budgets that are growing, but rather the ones that are shrinking."

Read more from Triton Media COO Mike Agovino here.

Tech expert illustrates big upswing coming for mobile and audio technologies

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 9:00am

Internet venture capitalist Mary Meeker recently highlighted some interesting trends, and made a prediction or two, that should be of special interest to our industry.

Meeker Web 2.0 slide

Most importantly: she demonstrated how quickly the mobile Internet is growing worldwide, and she predicted that audio-based technologies represent "the next big thing."

Meeker is with the firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and spoke at the recent Web 2.0 conference in Silicon Valley. She covered a lot of interesting information in her presentation, which we recommend you watch here. Here are just a few of the pertinent trends in mobile:

Worldwide, there are nearly 1 billion 3G subscribers, and that's only 17% of mobile subscribers (so there's lots of room for wireless Internet growth). More people worldwide have cellular/mobile access than are connected to the electrical grid. Smartphones now outship feature phones in the U.S. and Western Europe. Smartphones and tablets outshipped PCs (notebooks and desktops) in the fourth quarter of 2010. And the Windows operating system installation base on Intenet-enabled devices fell below the 50% mark in the second quarter of 2010.

Meeker Web 2.0 slide"When people look back at this era we're living in now, in 10, 20, 30 or 50 years, they will say this is the time when people got empowered with mobile Internet-connected devices," she said. [The slide on the right shows the adoption rate of 4 different technologies in the U.S. over time, plotted as a percentage of the population using each technology. The blue line is AM radio, the gold is television, the red is Internet, and the green is mobile Internet. The pink vertical bands represent times of economic recessions.]    

Meeker revealed she and her company think audio will likely be an important content driver for wireless mobile (she pointed to the fact that 60% of Pandora users access its content on mobile, a higher percentage than Facebook or Twitter). "We think the next big thing is the big things on the sides of your head -- those would be your ears." She pointed to the existence of four billion Bluetooth enabled devices in the market, and the quickly improving quality of headsets, wireless speaker systems, car audio connectivity, and sound "creation and sharing" platforms. Three of four companies she spotlighted for successfully introducing services in one market then widely expanding are audio-related (Shazam, Spotify, and Soundcloud).

Finally, she sees an upside for revenue in all of this in the form of shifting ad dollars. Comparing the amount of time consumers spend with various media to the amount of money advertisers spend on those media, Meeker says "it's way 'out of whack' for both Internet and mobile... a $20 billion opportunity in the U.S. if the revenue equals the time spent."

Jennifer Lane's Audio4cast and the San Jose Mercury News both have very good coverage of Meeker's presentation.

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