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Platform Divergence and CoDec Convergence

One would think that this would be the end of the story - but at this stage some other factors began to come into force. The proprietary nature of RTMP increasingly locked in some publishers to the Adobe format, but it also “locked out” others: and many of these were the major broadcasters who, seeing online video “coming of age” wanted to add Internet and IP-networked video to their workflow outputs. The problem with RTMP and the Flash Media ecosystem and format is that it had a number of shortcomings. First and foremost Adobe was slow to adopt the increasingly popular h.264 video compression standard. Other technologies were faster to market with h.264, which was both undeniably better quality than Adobe's own choice of VP6 CoDec and presented a reduced risk for broadcasters looking at their long-term storage strategies for their video archives. h.264 is an international standard, while Adobe's widespread VP6 was not, so risk-assessors within in broadcasters preferred the vendor independence that h.264 offered.

In 2007 Wowza introduced their media server. It was the first independent commercially supported server that could acquire a live stream from Adobe's Flash Media live encoder and distribute that stream to Flash Media Player - and it came with a price ticket that was roughly a quarter of the Flash Media server. Historically there has been a risk of a legal case between Adobe and Wowza concerning patents and use of “proprietary” variations of the RTMP standards, but aside from that, the critical step forward here was that Wowza's media server also supported other transport protocols, including RTSP, the Internet radio streaming protocols Shoutcast and Icecast, and critically MPEG transport streams (MPEG-TS).

Once the Flash ecosystem updated to include decode capabilities for h.264, the native support for MPEG-TS in Wowza was of particular significance to the Broadcast industry since it enabled their traditional TV and Satellite workflows, which already used MPEG-TS for their “traditional” broadcasting systems, to “ingest” the live signals which had been encoded in h.264, into Wowza and, by “trans-muxing” the stream from MPEG-TS to RTMP through the Wowza server, they could, in one step, simply distribute the live signals over the Internet to the ubiquitous Flash Media Players.

While Wowza was still proprietary, its relatively open integration with many third party encoders, and reach to Flash Media Player, encouraged more and more organizations to publish to the Internet.

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