As the market grows and matures, the viewing experience will no doubt continue to improve. YET, surprisingly - to this day - the average Webcast offers limited or even disappointing functionality and performance. At the risk of sounding like a broken record: THERE is a better way. This post is meant to serve as an additional check on our implicit subjectivity as an owner of Sonic Foundry (SOFO). We always strive to be objective in our research.
In January, we shared Who on Earth Needs Mediasite?, positing that everyone can benefit from Sonic Foundry's Mediasite solution for Webcasting all kinds of events -- from schools to corporations to government organizations to hospitals and all of their respective end-users. In that post, we included a number of links to various events for readers to peruse and objectively evaluate different platforms relative to Mediasite.
Among the alternatives, we included Thomson Reuters (TRI), PR Newswire's "MultiVu" /VideoNewsWire, ON24, TalkPoint, Veracast, Wall Street Webcasting, Accordent, and even Cisco's (CSCO) WebEx solution. We see a wide disparity in the quality of the end user experience from these various platforms, especially relative to Mediasite.
As an example, while WebEx may be optimal for group collaboration, we see the solution as suboptimal for lectures, town-hall-type CEO presentations, conference events, or any other one-to-many situation. Further, we surmise that most viewers would prefer to not see the extraneous WebEx pop-up window that says:
"Playback in progress - Do not close this window, refresh this Web page, click Back or Forward, or click a URL in another window. If you do so, playback will end".
In late July, we again mentioned out that countless Webcasting companies and even Nasdaq's (NDAQ) Shareholder.com unit could use Mediasite. Here, we shared Microsoft's (MSFT) Analyst Meeting that was Webcast live by Shareholder.com -- video only, no synchronized slides (slides available via separate download):
The Shareholder.com approach only features the active video box and all other "boxes" are still images.
Likewise, another example comes from the quarterly conference calls of video gear maker Polycom (PLCM), which uses Visual Webcaster from Onstream Media (ONSM). Here's a snapshot from the latest call in July:
In this case, the slides pop up in successive, separate windows and, like Microsoft's Analyst Meeting, the "POLYCOM" window above is static.
Finally, we watched the proposed Intel (INTC) / McAfee (MFE) acquisition Webcast live last week, which provided yet another example of the shortcomings of most Webcasts. The audio-only Webcast launched pop-up windows for each slide, leaving a number of excess windows open on our PC toward the end of the event:
BTW, looking more closely at this slide -- based on data from Cisco Systems -- please note the expected growth in video traffic (not necessarily surprising; acknowledge difficulty in accurately forecasting both market size and potential growth):
Now, for comparison, we will again share the following recent Mediasite catalogs and presentations:
- Campus Technology 2010
- 3rd Annual Emerging Technologies for Online Learning Symposium
- University of Florida: "Academic perspective on Oil in the Gulf"
While shares of Sonic Foundry have moved higher following favorable June quarter results, we continue to believe shares are trading well below fair values based on earnings power and implied private market valuations that would be assigned by an informed strategic buyer. In the latter case, recent M&A activity provides ample valuation support. Further, we fully expect Mediasite video content to contribute a large share of the growing video traffic on the Internet referenced in the above slide. BUT, to be sure, although we like this very positive secular trend and large addressable market opportunity for Sonic Foundry, we're not necessarily buying the trend. We're buying value. Investing solely in the latest, most hyped trends without value is a perilous endeavor.
Just how is Mediasite contributing to online video growth? We shared evidence from Twitter in our July post, The Value of the Mediasite Franchise? First, Many Firms Could Clearly Benefit; Second, Ask Massey University and Others Around Globe. Tweets from the University of Florida, North Carolina State University, and Massey University, respectively:
- mediasite RT @brianjsmith: @robgrau You beat us to it! We're at 168,000 #Mediasite views right now, also surpassing our '09 numbers by a large margin.
- mediasite Wow - kudos! RT @robgrau: We hit 200,000 #Mediasite views for 2010 today! That matches last year's total w/ 5 months to go!
- mediasite Congrats! RT @mattalexandernz: Wahoo! Just topped 50,000 views of our Mediasite content. 20,000 so far for 2010.
- "We looked at what other universities were doing.... We tried Mediasite and, to be honest, we've not looked back.... The automation has just started. It's very successful and again that means we can cope with minimum resources. Basically, our roadmap is to get a number of units so that we can do automated recording across our campuses in three different cities and we can cope with the demand we're getting and that we expect to get over the next year or so... What I like about it [Mediasite], is that it's consistently high quality."
Disclosure: long SOFO.
© 2010 Jeffrey Walkenhorst
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