The Streaming Media Way Back Machine – My Strategy for from 1999

Found this as I was cleaning up some backups from almost 15 years ago.  THought it would be interesting to let people see what my goals were for our merger with Yahoo back then.

Strategic Issues for Yahoo Broadcasting Group

June 18th 1999

General Strategic Issues:

Historically we have built value by adding content, expanding our network, building new business products, whether biz svc or advertising, before anyone else.  Because we were first for all of these , we had a huge advantage and there was not a significant cost beyond hardware , people and bandwidth to accomplish these.

I think we are getting past this stage, as an industry. I think we can expect that people will look at throwing money at content providers in order to try to play catch up. In order to still be attractive to all of our partners, biz svcs, advertising, and content, we must find new ways of adding value. That new way is via proprietary software

We have always said that software would be the last thing we added . We have taken this tact because there were so many other variables that were still evolving. From software being re-genned every 3 months from MicroSoft and Real Networks, the network, and learning what we can sell and what customers wanted to buy. We have reached the point now where our key value adds and differentiation have to come from software we produce in house.

We have to be able to demonstrate to our partners that our 4 years of experience have given us the base upon which to build applications that create unique opportunities . Our competition is falling into a trap thinking that internet based radio is a key offering. The real key offering is monetizing all digital offerings, regardless of whether its audio/video/flash or  ? on the outside and pushing down costs so that everything we do can happen in a lights out , no touch environment driven by software.

My feeling is that going forward , our biggest challenges will be

  1. Hiring Quality SW developers and Project Managers
  2. Developing and Supporting Leading Edge products that give us a sales and productivity advantage
  3. Having the balls to be willing to take chances and sell products and services that people don’t know they need yet.
  1. User Generated Content
    1. ability for users to deliver live or ondemand content to a bcst server in native streamed protocols (non-http)
      1. Build or Buy Software
      2. Subsidized hopefully by MicroSoft
      3. License of Real Producer or modify encoder from Real Networks
      4. Possible license of Software
      5. ability to provide low cost easy to use devices for digital encoding (dazzle)
      6. ability to provide streaming server plugins that automatically find an available server and host the content on that server

1. ability to monitor usage and enforce limits in real time

  1. ability to bill based on usage, length, subscription basis
  2. ability to report on usage and users
  3. Music detection for copyright protection via comparisonics or getmedia
  1. Lights out complete automation of encoding and serving systems
    1. Automation of Investment to provide a single port on Piso Audio/Video Matrix Switch for EVERY source of live content
    2. Ability to control any port to any port (or multiport) automation in realtime with realtime reporting
      1. With time based event triggers
      2. With tone (commercials) event triggers
      3. With Scene Transition event triggers (Islip)
      4. With Music to Voice to Silence Detection event triggers
      5. With Quality Control via noise tolerance detection
      6. Report within a programming matrix what programming is playing from which port to which encoder to which server, in text and graphical model with double click drill downs

7.  Quality Control reporting

One thing we don’t do, that would be a marketing goldmine, is to  track the quality of our user connections. It would be very simple. All of our servers report the number packets, delivered/lost and buffering. We should be using this information in real time to show our users and our customers the confidence we have in our systems and how they are actually better.

  1. With complete database integration of all programming for programming guide and personalization purposes.
    1. A user will be able to select from the programming guide of live and on demand content. The guide will know the source of the content and create using asp or cgi programming a personal station
    2. This will be a drag and drop system where a user will be able to chose from thousands of programs, or content items, and drop them in their personal schedule/calendar at a specific time, or chose a Network of preselected programs and modify that.

a. User will have the option to download to their choice of devices if the content is eligible and they have paid for the right

  1. There will a database of user selections for each user, and a user history of activity.
  2. Advertisers will be able to select the demo or psychographics of users and have their commercials inserted in to the user stations
  3. For pre programmed stations, or over the air stations, the advertiser will be able to insert commercials using the same user profiles through the use of Windows Media trigger driven switching or for real media, a plugin will have to be written the recognizes the trigger and inserts the media feed into the user specific stream
  4. Realtime reporting of usage with user name/email, by content type, by geography, by psychographic demographics for the purpose of providing advertisers the ability to monitor and SWITCH their ads in realtime.  This
  5. would mean an advertiser, or even a network programmer could program and ad in realtime based upon the number of viewers.listeners, and their response to an ad.
  6. All clicks and movement throughout the site would be tracked and maintained in a user movement database for data mining, not for sale

Bottom line is any content available to any user, with any other content interwoven inside of it., with complete user selectability and every click tracking and user identification

  1. Corporate Self Reservation and Broadcast Systems

The key to 99% margins in this business is the ability to allow corporate users to schedule , produce and broadcast their own audio/video based events, and to allow them to create and manage their own Programming guides , quickly and easily. This requires a very easy to use system, comparable to audio teleconferencing systems, with additional integrated Portal Style Programming Guides and complete backend reporting and billing.

  1. To do this we basically need to reinvent how we produce events to make them a single hardware and software package. This package must be something that any idiot can use on their own. From a complete camera production kit, toaudio couplers, to switches. We need to package a completely integrated system that is a leave behind hardware system
  1. We need the same solution from a network perspective. We must be able to go in to  a client, just as an audioteleconferencing company installs an audio bridge and a T1 with X ports, we must also install the hardware, and the T1 with X capacity, along with encoders and servers, all prewired, and a control server that acts as a host, either locally or at bcst that manages everything and communicates back to us
  2. We can start this, as phase one by offering it audio only. A customer sets up an audio conference call using traditional means, and we integrate it into a webserving environment by dialing in  a coupler, connected to a Pisa port, or by having a 24×7 hardwired connection to the port, and just having it “ join the call”

There are some packages that do this, Vstream, some TelSoft apps. I would prefer to see us buy before build if the price is reasonable and focus on adding video to the app.ication rather than trying to start from scratch

First step is to hire a project manager who is an experienced programmer, preferably from the video teleconferencing industry

We need this to spec out and define roles and manage to completion.

We also need programmers dedicated to this application and its maintenance

  1. We of course must get to video as quickly as possible , offering a turnkey solution for companies to put in conference rooms, AV rooms, or on their desktops, and even for laptops
  2. Part of the solution must include indepth reporting in realtime. Companies must know who is using. The cost, who is attending and in depth information on the quality of service of the broadcast. Was there buffering at all, for who, where, how can it be fixed
  3. All information must be able to be distributed to 3rd party applications. Companies must be able to let their HR systems or marketing systems know who attended, how long, did they interact, where did they watch, at what bit rate, etc.
  1. Media Management – Indexing
  1. A core competency for BCST Group is to manage and index large quantities of audio and video in a search, choose and download manner.
    1. Video content can be searched by indexing the closed captioning that comes with TV content, or with content , such as biz content, where it is financially worthwhile to add closed captioning.
    2. Video and audio content that is talking head , no background noise can be indexed  through trained speech recognition (trained for a specific show where the voices are consistent), can be indexed
    3. Video and audio content that doesn’t have a transcript of any sort can only be indexed by setting metadata at the time of the encoding. We have an opportunity to set standards for how this data is indexed and encoded if we move quickly. This allows users to make searches on an unlimited number of inserted key words
    4. The challenge is in creating a low cost system that can scale to Thousands of PETABYTES of data.  Just as BCST has created space between us and the rest through scaling our streaming infrastructure, the ability to create a system that uses off the shelf hard disk storage to reduce costs, and that scales will create a competitive advantage in terms of the cost of hosting, and the ability to add content
      1. We need to have at least one person who works on developing and implementing this hardware and programmers who work on using access information on developing the appropriate content distribution architecture that integrates the hardware and storage management software with reports of usage. This will allow the amount of MB of content delivered to be in balance with the distribution variables that act as constraints, throughput of the serving app, throughput of the network segment, throughput of the disk storage system and throughput of the file serving mechanism
  1. Index content grows in value much like network usage. The more nodes to a newtork the greater the value of the network, the more indexed , searchable video, the greater the value of the catalog of video.
  2. Content volume, traffic volume and scalability of infrastructure are the key to success, and first mover creates the magnet for new content and users
  3. An additional marketing need will be to productize this so that business services can sell Hosted solutions or self service solutions to corporations and so that we can leverage the value of all the content we have to offer content on a subscription basis for viewing and/or downloading

MetaData Search Tool

Internet TV Stations

User programmed

Pre programmed

Download with copyright protection

Subscription Service

Custom Player

User Created Broadcast Network

Getting Wide via Content acquisition

Broadband video acquisition centers on the network

Digital TV Broadband bandwidth

CNBC Killer

CNN killer

Political TV/Pres Debates

Movies with Trimark

Quality Control of user streams – integration to routers

Active Directory Integration of files and users into 2 directories

28 thoughts on “The Streaming Media Way Back Machine – My Strategy for from 1999

  1. Interesting stuff! If anyone is interested. I just launched a KICKSTARTER project. Check it out. Here’s the link.

    Comment by Tom king -

  2. Hi –

    Some of these notes sound like they could be for a meeting tomorrow in the streaming media industry;

    “The challenge is in creating a low cost system that can scale to Thousands of PETABYTES of data.”

    “Content volume, traffic volume and scalability of infrastructure are the key to success, and first mover creates the magnet for new content and users”

    and you were way ahead of youtube / google with some thoughts,

    “Music detection for copyright protection via comparisonics or getmedia”

    any thoughts on OTT, video streaming, ‘video everywhere’ for 2014? 🙂


    JD Hauger
    Chief Operations Officer
    GraviyLab Inc

    Comment by JD Hauger -

  3. I re-read my Akimbo internal notes/emails a few months ago……made me cry when you consider the current state of video to set top. So so so close.


    Comment by dean collins (@deancollins) -

  4. That sound you hear is a paradigm shifting without a clutch. This is a fascinating glimpse into the past and into the future at the same time. Some interesting points were made…especially with regard to user-generated content. Look no further than Instagram or Vine to see the importance of UGC these days.

    Chris Monty

    Comment by Chris Monty (@ChrisMonty) -

  5. Mark, I didnt read this. You take another read. I’m certain I agree.

    Comment by calamitycal -

  6. Interesting insight. Nice to get refreshed with something from the past.

    Comment by Mall of Style (@MallofStyle) -

  7. This is interesting. I don’t understand some of it because I’m not that computer/marketing savvy, but I do sense a change on the horizon.

    Comment by Dan Erickson -

  8. These issues need to be strategic objective perspective and synthesis to find the solution plan a way to solve the problem at the most damage to the company, now. Really feel like the way you look at problems. It is true
    Kizi jogos

    Comment by kizi jogos -

  9. Pingback: The Streaming Media Way Back Machine – My Strategy for from 1999 | SoshiTech - Social Media Technology -

  10. Since 1999 some issues remained the same and some have evolved:

    1. User Generated Content’s major platforms:
    Youtube, acquired by Google in 2006, $1.65 billion, 12 million users in 2006, 100 million users in 2009, what is Youtube’s valuation contributes to Google’s current $375billion total valuation on December 30 2013? Google’s financials do not show revenues breakdown, but one can extrapolate from traffics’ estimates. 80% search, 5% email, 5% others (G+, Google Earth, maps,…), remaining 5-10% could be from video (Youtube). Youtube could contribute as much as $18 billion (5%) to $37 billion (10%) in valuation to Google. (Links: Google’s traffics – 2006 ; Google’s Youtube acquisition – ) (China) (YOKU -ADS valuation $5.17 billion) Chinese version of Youtube.

    FaceBook, Twitter, …. are parts of User Generated Content though Twitter’s users tend to borrow links from other publications as quotes in their tweets.

    2. Professionally generated content’s major platforms: Netflix, Blockbuster’s killer, current valuation $21 billion (12/30/2013). Time Warner, movies, HBO, publications, media,… current valuation $63 billion (12/30/2013).

    3. Corporate generated content: no major branded platform other than “cloud” services marketed by everyone.

    4. Proprietary streaming software: Window Media versus Real is now a non-issue. “Universal brands” (Google, FB, Twitter, Amazon, Netflix, eBay, Priceline, Yahoo, …), ecosystems (Apple, Google,…), platforms (Microsoft, Google), apps (millions) are pulling and keeping traffics, not stand-alone software.

    5. Internet radio, TV, music stations: Pandora, current valuation $5.3 billion (12/30/2013). Apple’s radio TV (?).

    6. First screen, second screen, third (fourth, fifth…) screen’s population: TV screen, tablets/phones, watches / wearable, public walls, malls, stadiums

    7. Subscription versus Advertising models. One – subscription – is for Professionally Generated Content and one – advertising – is for User Generated Content. One – subscription, due to high cost of production- is for immersed entertainment and one – advertising due to high traffics – is for personal time wasting entertainment.

    8. Aggregator versus Creator of content: Aggregated content is quick to market but lack of immersed experience for users. Created content is costly to produce but more rewarding to producers and end users “if” the created content is a big hit. From 1999 to 2013, aggregators beat out creators in valuation. The world is a lazy place!

    9. Global, local, mobile, and cloud: what, where, when and for whom contents are needed? how to deliver to them and why? Geography, languages, cultures, are secondary but critical factors in attracting and keeping traffics.

    10. Data mining and security: who owns which data? how data are used? who, when, and why can private data be accessed? Data Ubiquity versus Personal Privacy need to be addressed so that clear policies are implemented among data servers’ owners, end-users, and governments.


    Content? (Bill Gates’ earlier famous quotation “Content is King!”)
    Brand? (first mover buzz)
    Software, technology? (predictive AI, bio-electronics, voice, smell, brain waves, holographs)
    Platform, screen? (desktops, laptops, tablets, wearable, clouds, walls, floors, sky, water)
    Ecosystem? (Apple-IOs, Google-Android, Microsoft-Nokia)

    AudioNet was a simple idea at the right time and the right place.

    Happy Holidays and Happy New Year… from Ben -1996 business development manager at Pax Radio Network!


    Comment by Ly Thanh Binh (@lythanhbinh) -

  11. Merry Christmas Mark!!!
    I was doing a little research this morning for some of your Best Success Quotes and found this article. It’s truley amazing what’s possible with a well defined plan, followed by massive action, no matter how big your goals are.

    I Hope You Have Your Best Year EVER!!!

    Shark Tank Success Blog

    Comment by Shark Tank Success (@Sharktankfan777) -

  12. The best Shark Tank critiques EVER!!!!

    Comment by Jeff Hopkins -

  13. Need quick advise from The Master please: My colleague and I, both PhDs, have just written “Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy for Dummies”. We are couple therapists and academics, and I own my own Center in Houston ( We recently were asked on to an NPR station in Miami for a 30 minute live show with them. It went really well. Was fresh and alive. We suddenly realized that we have something special and different to offer: Two legit couple counseling specialists with the academic chops and pedigrees to back it up – and we have chemistry live.

    My question: How do we move forward in starting a 15-30 minute radio/internet show? Would you advise starting on the internet only, or trying to pitch ourselves to radio stations across the country (sort of like we are doing with our publicist for the Dummies book). I thank you, oh captain my captain.

    Go Rockets!!!!

    Comment by Brent Bradley -

  14. Mark, realizing that you get pitched on many ideas, products, companies, and ideas, and that your time is limited, I really have to tell you that this opportunity could be your GREATEST investment of all. PLEASE visit this website This is my cousins company a great startup with Billion Dollar potential, and I’m a Broker helping him sell the company. He has 25 patents, many issued, and you won’t want to pass this one up. Thanks for your time Mark!!! you can contact me at Talk soon…

    Comment by Robert Adema -

  15. Great stuff Mark, great memories of the days, I competed with you at InterVU. I produced one of the first streaming media pay-per-view concert events. Now I produce live concerts and online video is mainstream, we’ve come a long way. Happy Holidays. Michele Abrams, Founder, In Concert for Cancer

    Comment by InConcertForCancer (@InConcertForC) -

  16. You were great at reading the tea leaves as far back as I can remember which is selling Microsolutions to CompuServe when I was there working with them. At that time we were very concerned about audio files taking up that dial up bandwidth let alone rich media. I said to a fellow business partner “wouldn’t it be great if we could stream 30 second commercials. In those days it was impossible on the internal CompuServe/AOL network but we knew it was coming.

    Comment by Howard Sobel -

  17. Sounds like you should meet the guys from Funn Networks… What you summarized is what they industry still needs, and Funn is doing it, only they took what you have and stretched it mile….

    Comment by Bob OKane -

  18. Hey Mark, your vision is almost exactly what the space turned into, Netflix, OnDemand, etc…

    What do you see in the future? The space appears fragmented..there are so many different platforms offering Content…

    I see unity coming into the space…music videos/music, tv, movies, information media being offered on single platform (or at least a narrowing scope)…wouldn’t it be nice to visit one platform as the ‘one stop’ for all Content needs?

    Further streamlining/development in delivery via live stream, precision on demand, reporting and statistics; basically, the delivery will be seamless and ability to generate detailed consumer habits/trend reports.

    The newest development int he space: mobile capabilities (tablets, smart phones).

    Biggest challenge: Content owners unwilling to part with rights.

    Biggest opportunity: Consumer metrics/reporting and custom advertising based on user interest and experience.


    Comment by honourslawstudent -

  19. Great read! Really interesting to see how organized and focused you were at that point in your career.

    Are you interested in getting into the casino gaming market? I know you were interested in social gaming at one point, but would you consider hearing about this other opportunity? I would really like to share my ideas with you.

    Comment by Tim Nottke (@tnottke) -

  20. The same chokepoint still exists today, how to produce premium live video at scale. You will never build a go-to channel for live content when you have to drop $20,000 on a manned crew to produce a single show, and simple webcam technology (while easy) will never be TV quality entertainment. A new production-side technology is needed to do the heavy lifting in industries from music to adult, where half of all revenues now come from the live webcam. figured out how to enable users to produce quality live content and they now see 45 million unique visitors a month.

    Comment by Doug Wulff (@dougwulff) -

  21. Hi Mark,
    I love the post! Great look into the behind the scenes history of the acquisition.

    My name is Rick House, I sent you an email about ViStar and Tyndall National Institute. I look forward to hearing your input.

    Thank you,

    Rick House

    Comment by Rick House -

  22. Great read Mark. Thanks for sharing with us.

    Comment by Jason Jersey -

  23. Hi Mark – Interesting insight into your thinking . . . . I remember the breakfasts we had before you formed during which you shared and we discussed your views about the current micro-computing world and your vision for the future. In less than 25 years I now carry around a large part of the information I daily acquire on my brain pad (IPad) which I consider an indispensable tool in my world. As you predicted, it truly is about content. Thanks for sharing.

    Tom Samson

    Comment by Tom Samson -

  24. This is a fantastic look into Internet ‘broadcasting’ back in 1999. Look at how far we have come. Bandwidth is so high now that it has become a non-issue (ubiquitous). Nearly everyone has the bandwidth to stream HD – phones, pads, computers, smart TVs, etc. The concept of ‘broadcast’ is dying and being replaced with ‘Video On Demand’.

    People do not have time to schedule events to watch. This is why the DVR is so popular. How many people do you know that do not record most of their content? Very few. VOD is like the big DVR in the cloud. We now have new phrases for the industry like ‘binge watching’.

    The only place left for ‘broadcast’, to use the term liberally, is sports and news. These are already available via Internet streaming. Look at Apple TV. It has NBA and NHL channels. I suspect we will see NFL on Apple TV and Roku soon.

    The days of cable television, and satellite television are over. The only job for the cable provider will be to get high speed Internet to the house. Service/device providers like Google, Apple and Roku will replace broadcast as we know it; it is already happening. The cost of delivering content has dropped significantly owing to cheap bandwidth and less infrastructure.

    Innovation and competition in this space will come down to content and pricing. The game has changed. The delivery pipe has become a commodity.

    Comment by Jamey Kirby -

  25. Rebel. Visionary. Icon. — Mark Cuban, thanks for your timeless posts.

    With Love,

    Libertarian Mike

    Comment by 4KTV (@4KTV) -

  26. Coming up with products & services people don’t know they need yet is easy. Being compelling enough to convert them — no matter the supreme analytics to back it all up — is another animal. Thanks for this post. 🙂

    Comment by @.l.interpretations (@alinterpretatio) -

  27. Ahhhhhhhh……. The good ol days!

    Comment by masudosman -

  28. Incredible! I feel like I am reading the script from an Oscar winning movie from back in the day! Thank you for sharing!

    Comment by Norm Levy (@normlevy) -

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