After years of uncertainty and talk of shutting down, Internet streaming radio finally got the break it needed a few weeks ago. SoundExchange, the group responsible for setting the listening rates being charged to the Internet radio services, agreed to cut its proposed rate hikes in exchange for trade-offs such as a higher guaranteed rate. The most visible company affected by this Pandora, but it’s hardly the only one. One company we spoke to, Wowza Media, tells us it started seeing a jump in interest in its Flash-based streaming solution for content providers in anticipation of such a deal.
Technically, Wowza is a Flash media server company. That means that it competes with the likes of Adobe and Microsoft to offer up streaming media solutions for all types on content, including streaming Internet radio. While the company has long seen success in this field outside of the U.S., where the royalty rates aren’t as imposing, it was a tough sell in the U.S. with the rates being proposed. But with the new deal in place, the company sees a whole new range of possibilities.
Wowza, which has over 25,000 licenses around the world, notes that a lot of online radio is still being served through the likes of software like WinAmp. But it sees a clear trend towards doing everything with Flash, as the installed base is something like 98% just through the web browser. And it says it can easily convert stations that were going through solutions like WinAmp to be done in Flash. The hope is obviously that there will be more successful web radio services like Pandora — which is, of course, easier said than done.
But getting Internet radio streaming companies to come aboard and use its Flash streaming solution is just the first step the company envisions. Its service has also been extended over the years to provide solutions for Quicktime, Silverlight, and a host of other formats. This means even more opportunities to reach other kinds of devices, such as the iPhone, for example. As we all know, the iPhone doesn’t play Flash content, but it does play Quicktime files. The way YouTube and some others get their Flash content on the iPhone is to covert it to H.264 to play in Quicktime. That’s a solution Wowza offers as well.
Expect to see a lot more interest in Internet radio with the new royalty deal in place. And that, in turn, should lead to some other interesting opportunities for companies.