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Jet-Stream Introduces Free Player for Customers
With many player vendors charging per play and including trackers, Jet-Stream decided to introduce a player that's not only free but trackerless.

Jet-Stream is marking its 25th anniversary in 2019, and it's celebrating the occasion with a gift to its customers. The company just announced that it has created a video player that's both free to all of its customers and doesn't include any trackers. As founder Stef van der Ziel wrote on a recent Jet-Stream blog post, "Don't pay to play—don't pay with your data."

"In the past, you could license a player for a fixed price and only pay for streaming traffic, but player vendors changed to charge 50 cents or a dollar per 1,000 views," says van der Ziel. "We have lots of customers with lots of views, and so they started to complain that player costs were more than traffic costs."

So the company decided to build its own player, based on the open source Video.JS player (which is also used by many player vendors). The player includes all the features customers expect, including full-screen, multi-bitrate streaming, thumbnails, subtitling, and ad network integration, and works in all browsers, van der Ziel says.

What it doesn't include is trackers. Even though trackers are often used to do client-side analytics, van der Ziel says they're not necessary—in fact, they're not even effective. "The problem with client-side analytics is that over 20% of the people who watch videos have ad blockers, which means they also block the trackers to do analytics, which means that [for] one out of five viewers, you won't see in your analytics. So we built a platform that measures every video stream from the server side. We measure everything in the cloud, and that's something you cannot block."

But Jet-Stream's opposition to trackers isn't just based on the business case; it's philosophical."Virtually all video players and video platforms are hosted outside of the EU, with data leaking to non EU companies, CDNs, clouds and data processing companies," van der Ziel writes in another blog post. "We started to ask ourselves: is this still good practice? Do we want to keep supporting this? And are these activities within the boundaries of the GDPR laws? The answers are no."

Van der Ziel is hoping that other CDNs take note. "We were so fed up with privacy invading services, including all those trackers in video players, that we decided to build our own player without trackers," he says. "To put privacy on the agenda in our industry we decided to make it free, challenging anyone’s business model that is based upon tracking."

The new player is available to all Jet-Stream customers for free (though customers are able to use third-party players if they wish), and the company has kept its base pricing model of €99 per month for up to 1TB of traffic, with more aggressive pricing for larger customers. "I think the [CDN] market is completely saturated," says van der Ziel. "Everyone who needs streaming is somewhere. So the question is, can we steal some customers away from other vendors when they're not happy about the pricing or the privacy or the security or analytics?"