Vivendi gets its CDN dirty with Streamroot P2P caching

Vivendi’s pursuit of becoming a major pan-European OTT video provider has hit a number of road blocks in the past year, but the French mass media giant recently showed its hand that it is preparing for future OTT traffic surges, by tapping French OTT technology startup Streamroot to supply its distributed network architecture (DNA) technology for CDN optimization.

As much as companies like Streamroot like to gloss this up, in its bare bones this is HTTP P2P (peer-to-peer) caching technology – a method of content delivery that decides which devices to deliver the video packets to instead of requesting content from the same server every time and causing an unwanted and potentially detrimental build-up of traffic. It achieves this by offloading most of the central management resources and workload to the end user, replacing it instead with a relatively small list of files and associated users.

As the dust settled from NAB, Faultline Online Reporter caught up with Streamroot’s Head of Partnerships and Marketing, Erica Beavers, who immediately conceded that the term “P2P” is considered a “dirty word” in the industry – due to its ties to online copyright infringement. This is why Streamroot and similar companies often market their technologies as something slightly different.

It may be tarnished, but P2P caching is an effective way of optimizing traffic, with Streamroot claiming bandwidth savings of between 50% and 80%.

The Streamroot DNA software is based on the HTML 5 WebRTC (Web Real Time Communication) streaming protocol, which is a key enabler of browser-based web services, although its support for mobile is minimal, so Beavers teased that Streamroot is moving to mobile soon with the launch of its upcoming mobile SDK.

Beavers said the Streamroot secret sauce involves the way the technology can efficiently decide which devices to deliver content to in periods of traffic spikes, providing additional capacity at peak viewing times – an ideal option for live sports events.

Vivendi currently boasts the lineup of Dailymotion, Canal+ Group, Universal Music Group and Gameloft under its wing. Streamroot is initially handling CDN optimization of the CanalPlay SVoD service, as well as the video sharing site Dailymotion. Beavers could not comment on whether Streamroot DNA is also being deployed for UMG’s music streaming service or with Gameloft, which Vivendi is pushing towards a series of new smartphone games.

Beavers understandably did not divulge which CDNs Vivendi and its subsidiaries rely on for OTT operations, but Vivendi has previously spoken about building its own in-house CDN architecture, and we suspect this is used in tandem with Akamai and others. Vivendi’s Canal+ had previously used French OTT vendor Arkena for CDN services, but the CDN portion of Arkena’s business recently fell to Akamai as it proved too costly to maintain.

There is a trend towards delivering content over the internet using fixed bit rate methods which are more reliable than ABR, but this is typically more useful for cellular network operators rather than for media companies like Vivendi. Beavers noted that Streamroot DNA works with its customers’ ABR algorithms where it can estimate bandwidth, but unlike similar companies we have spoken with, Streamroot isn’t looking at monetizing the data it gathers from sitting its software in the network and selling that data back to the likes of Akamai.

Streamroot was founded by three engineers in France in late 2013, then went on to grab its first major European customer in Eurosport, as well as deployments in Latin America and Russia. It formed its New York headquarters in late 2015 and has grown to just over 20 employees today, and while its first US customer is still a work in progress, Beavers is hopeful that the company should announce a contract before this year’s IBC trade show in Amsterdam, as well as some potential announcements surrounding VR and UHD.

We look forward to seeing if Streamroot will become a pivotal part of Vivendi’s European SVoD service to rival Netflix, if and when the launch happens. Vivendi owns the world’s largest collection of recorded music and has some valuable video assets to match, so we suspect it will quickly return to the drawing board following rumors that it has put the project on hold – while the trial of its premium music and video streaming service for mobiles in Brazil, WatchMusic, is ongoing.

Philippe Rivas, VP, Distribution Technology at Canal+ Group, said, “at Vivendi, we strive to maintain and fortify our position by combining the best content at the highest quality regardless if we deliver via satellite or OTT. To offer high quality experiences and manage ever growing audiences for OTT, we needed a partner that understood these challenges. Streamroot not only offers consistently high quality across group companies and user platforms, but also unlocks great value with its disruptive business model. This agreement is highly strategic for our group.”

Streamroot co-founder and CEO Pierre-Louis Théron added, “Streamroot DNA is the ideal solution for the group’s comprehensive OTT offering, combining top quality viewer experience with predictable cost. We are thrilled that Vivendi has placed its trust in Streamroot; it is yet another testament to strong industry support for our innovative services.”