Looking Back: A Reflection on a Strange Year

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So many life-altering events happening in such a short period of time: a global pandemic which killed hundreds of thousands of people, reshaped the business landscape by requiring many to work from home and changed consumer behavior because everyone was sheltering in place; political uncertainty and violence in the United States; job cuts, evictions, and the list goes on.

In reflecting on the turbulent year, I thought it would be beneficial to also call attention to some of the good things that happened, especially here at the Alliance. Despite all of the upheaval, we experienced a truly amazing year.

 

A Growing Member Base

Our membership grew substantially in 2020. We added 18 new members including traditional streaming companies like Fastly, Stackpath, STARZ, and THEO; well known technology companies such as Cisco, INKA Entworks, Intel, and Varnish Software; global network operators such as Orange and Telekom Malaysia; and a host of startups like allt, Eluvio, MainStreaming, and TAG Video Systems. We welcomed some technology companies outside of the traditional streaming world as well: EXFO, Equus Computer Solutions, NS1, and even ServiceNow. It was amazing to see so many new faces come to contribute to the Alliance’s work.

 

Although growth in and of itself is important for the health of the organization, I also believe it might hold additional significance. Perhaps, as more non-traditional streaming companies try to apply their products and services to our industry, their numbers will reflect an expansion of the Alliance’s scope to address technologies such as AI, ML, Edge Computing, and even Automation within the streaming technology stack.

 

More Publications…And a Healthy Pipeline

Having new member companies, with the promise of additional contributors, is critical to the future of the Alliance. The people who come to our member meetings (in 2020, two of the three were virtual) and attend our working group sessions are the engine of our organization. They discuss the ideas, define the solutions, and produce the documents. Which is why 2020 was so amazing for us. Even in the face of shrinking business budgets and collapsing job roles, these people still found time to continue their work. By the end of the year, we saw four new publications

 

But even more than that, we had half a dozen documents and projects underway as we turned the corner into 2021. For us, 2020  was truly a remarkable year for our mission of educating the industry, providing a forum for collaboration, and defining solutions to technical challenges.

 

Expanding Scope

As many businesses were contracting or holding their ground during the pandemic, the Alliance was growing. But not just in the number of members. We were also identifying additional areas where we could positively impact the streaming industry. So we launched a new study group: Players and Playback. The point of this group was to look hard at the ultimate endpoint for streaming: the device itself. And this new group wasn’t the limit of our expansion. We also created a new committee, Industry References, to spearhead projects developing resources for the entire industry, like a new glossary and a set of common architectural diagrams for different parts of the workflow. We are looking to launch both of those projects in 2021.

 

Growing in Different Ways

Although we haven’t yet announced this, we are taking ownership of another organization which was working on technology specifications within the streaming technology stack. The Alliance will be the future home of their entire specifications library. We hope to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s in Q1 of this year and make the announcement. This kind of activity represents how the Alliance is growing as a central organization within the streaming industry.

 

Looking Forward

It seems like we are carrying the positive momentum from 2020 right into 2021. We have already added several new member companies (TNO and Panasonic Avionics) and will be making a number of exciting announcements in the coming months. From our new Fellows program, through which we will honor industry and Alliance contributors, to new websites — one supporting diversity within streaming and another exploring sustainability — we are continuing to grow. New projects are starting, new documents are being defined, and we are even looking at other ways to leverage education and knowledge to improve the industry, such as a new streaming university. At this point, nothing is off the table as we explore all avenues to further our awareness and accomplish our missions.

 

2020 may have been brutal in so many ways, but it also showed us something intrinsic to the human condition, something which is at the core of our fundamental identity: resilience. We have shown countless times how, in the face of disaster or misery, we can still see the small wins, see the hope, and build off it to make a better future. The inflection point for the transition from broadcast to streaming was smack dab in the middle of 2020. And our members rose to the occasion. For that, we are forever grateful and, more so, hopeful for the coming months and years.

 

About the Author

Jason Thibeault
Executive Director at | Website

Jason is the Executive Director of the Streaming Video Alliance, a worldwide consortium of companies dedicated to helping shape the future of online video. In this role, he runs day-to-day operations, finances, member recruitment, strategy, and evangelizes the organization at events around the world. He is also the co-founder of a big data startup, datazoom.io. Jason is a contributing editor at Streaming Media Magazine and has written several books.

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