Akamai's Smooth Streaming officially launched, with customers!

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It’s MIX09 this week, so brace yourselves for a deluge of media-related blogging from me.

We’ve been in alpha/beta for a few months now, and today Akamai announced the official launch of their “AdaptiveEdge” service based on Smooth Streaming. The full press release is here. And of course you can see it in action at SmoothHD.com.

Better yet, they’re announcing a couple of big national broadcasters are adopting Smooth Streaming: Canada’s CTV, and Italy’s RAI

From the “Customer Momentum” section of the press release:

"In response to the ever-growing demand for engaging online content, we've made a strong commitment to delivering the highest quality video streaming experience for our consumers," said Stephan Argent, CTV's Vice-President, Digital Media. "Experimenting with Akamai AdaptiveEdge Streaming will be an excellent learning initiative for us and is a reflection of our ongoing efforts to evolve the user experience to a new level."

CTV is the largest broadcaster in Canada, and has worked with Akamai for years to deliver high quality online video. This week, CTV is launching a pilot extension of its industry-leading video player to showcase key titles available online in true HD via Akamai AdaptiveEdge Streaming in an effort to better understand audience reaction to higher-quality content. The CTV HD Beta Player will allow fans of some of CTV's top original shows to watch in clear, HD streaming video format while enabling the broadcaster to solicit feedback from users.
"With its new service, Akamai AdaptiveEdge Streaming for Microsoft Silverlight, Akamai offers a scalable solution that brings true HD (720p+) video experiences to consumers worldwide," said Eddie Amos, general manager of the Developer Division at Microsoft Corp. "AdaptiveEdge Streaming, powered by Smooth Streaming, an IIS Media Services extension, brings a simple-to-manage approach to adaptive streaming using HTTP-based Web servers."

RAI, a public broadcaster in Italy, is building an online video portal RAI.tv, to offer a wide range of content from its media library, including full-length television shows and feature-length movies. By using Akamai AdaptiveEdge Streaming, RAI is able to seamlessly continue use of the Silverlight player, while offering its content in a much higher quality format. RAI projects that in the future, the majority of its online assets will be delivered using Akamai AdaptiveEdge streaming in an effort to increase audience size and differentiate from the competition through a higher-quality viewing experience.

According to Akamai data, during 2008, broadband penetration in Italy grew by nearly 50 percent with 74 percent of Internet connections connecting at speeds greater than 2 Mbps. Broadcasters like RAI can take advantage of this adoption by delivering a high bitrate experience to those users, while at the same time providing a differentiated experience to users on varying connection speeds.

Anyway, that’s the start. Expect a lot more posts this week!

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