Vividas Setting Pace for Online Players at Fox Sports

By Carl Lindemann

One
sign that we’re still very early on in the online viewing era is how dominance
in the player business is still up for grabs. Much as Microsoft and Real may
wish to think they’ve got this locked up, numerous different outfits pop up
regularly to challenge the status quo. Now, Australia-based Vividas offers what
sounds like the Valhalla for this technology – a universal, no plug-in player
that delivers higher quality images with less bandwidth than the
competition.

“Our
player streams live view more efficiently, some 30% better than Windows Media,”
said Vividas CEO I

ain Molland. “If
you’re streaming Windows Media at 700Kbps, you get better quality with ours
running just 440Kbps.”

The Vividas advantage,
according to Milland, comes both from the codec as well as the fact that it
runs on the bare HTTP backbone of the Internet.

Real and Windows Media require a dedicated infrastructure, while
Vividas rides on the Internet barebones. This also makes it a hit with content
distribution networks like Akamai.

Molland says that the
streaming viewing experience is a match for broadcast SD. The downloads of 720P
material bests DVD quality.

“You want to plug this
into your widescreen plasma or LCD and just watch as you would with quality
content from other sources,” said Molland.

For
content providers, the HTTP infrastructure offers other advantages, too. The
dedicated infrastructure players top out when a few hundred thousand streams
run simultaneously.

With HTTP, millions
can be reached with limits that are those of the Internet itself. This opens
the door for Web casts to go beyond niche audiences to serve broadcast-size
viewership.

As
good as this all sounds, how has the Vividas player done under real-world
conditions?

Right now, Fox Sports has
signed on with Vividas to use the player for soccer, both live and on demand.
Vividas is preparing a new platform for the player to be released next month.
Molland expects that soccer success with Fox Sports will lead to other sports
being prepped for his player. Also, he is in conversation with various sports
leagues to spark interest.

It may be that online media will always be fragmented
between different player technologies, driving up prep costs for content
producers. Still, the simplicity of a single, dominant player is attractive.
While the current scramble to build that continues to beckon, at least this failure
to arrive at a dominant standard isn’t ruinous like the HD-DVD/Blu Ray schism
that continues to hamper the growth of the HD home player market.