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Live Streaming Summit [7-8 May 2019]
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Industry Perspectives: Riding the Global Webacasting Wave
Webcasting and streaming media content applications will be the catalysts for a new productive boom in the technology sector worldwide.
Tues., July 25, by Dave Gardy

Editor’s note: A version of this article appears as the forward to Webcasting Worldwide: Business Models of an Emerging Global Medium, edited by Louisa Ha and Richard Ganahl III and published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

There is perhaps no more exhilarating experience for an entrepreneur than to be on the ground floor of a fledgling industry at its inception and survive long enough to still be an active participant when the classic "tipping point" of mainstream acceptance occurs. The business of webcasting sand streaming media is undergoing just such a transformation and global awakening today. Innovative new webcasting concepts are emerging just as the crest of this wave is about to hit, and the potential for growth is mind-boggling.

Yet there has been no true comprehensive documentation of the emerging trends and business model evolution in this exciting industry space on an international level . . . until now. I believe that Webcasting Worldwide: Business Models of an Emerging Global Medium is that definitive work, and that the book’s authors, Louisa Ha and Richard Ganahl III have made a significant contribution in facilitating mainstream understanding of the burgeoning webcasting sector and the promise it holds. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

The current excitement has special meaning to those of us who have been there through the turbulence of webcasting’s nascent adoption cycle. When the internet bubble burst back in 2000, the webcast and streaming media industry was left standing at the altar . . . all dressed up, with a plethora of promising applications but no place to deliver them. It was an industry poised to take off, thanks to its courtship with the telecom sector’s broadband-driven high-speed internet access that would power the delivery of a whole range of interactive media solutions, changing the way we communicate in the workplace, at home, and even in-between, thanks to wireless. But the dot-com bomb went off, taking the telecommunications industry with it. As venture investors scrambled to perform triage on their evaporating portfolios, the webcasting and streaming media sector came to a standstill . . . or at least it so appeared. Some analysts wrote off webcasting as an anomaly that would disappear as fast as the Pets.com sock puppet of Super Bowl commercial fame. In the devastated tech sector, the last place any investor would even think about placing a bet was on webcasting and streaming media.

But many in our industry didn’t believe we had met our demise. From internet radio to web video, a hard-core cadre of survivors--professionals who believed in the value proposition of streaming media and in their own business models--circled the wagons and hunkered down for the long term, bootstrapping their dreams, depleting their savings, and sometimes even mortgaging their homes in the process.

They did it because they believed in their webcasting vision and were determined to follow their convictions. A few others in the press and media side of the industry believed, too, as did a small group of token analysts and research firms. Together they stepped up to the challenge before them, never succumbing to the doubts raised by those who questioned whether webcasting and streaming media could ever live up to its full potential. Rather, through innovation and unrelenting determination, these industry leaders deployed strategies and created the solutions that would drive webcasting and streaming media to meet its full potential as an industry. I am honored to have known and worked with many of these individuals and other webcasting professionals who never gave up on our sector.

For streaming media and webcasting, the journey back from the abyss of the internet crash to today’s promising economic viability wasn’t easy. Many say that a critical juncture was reached with the horrific events of September 11, 2001. While many struggled to deal with the economic aftershocks of this tragic and defining moment in U.S. and world history, business travelers gasped at the prospect of planes being used as missiles. As legions of politicians implored commercial travelers to go on with business as usual, many weighed the risk—or at least the skyrocketing cost—of air travel to events such as trade shows, seminars, and business conferences.