Yahoo Israel, leading video efforts, unconcerned about shakeup

“Our goal is to be the premium platform for sporting events,” Yahoo’s VP, Video Products Engineering P.P.S. Narayan told the Jerusalem Post in the company’s Tel Aviv offices this week.

March 12, 2016 17:03
2 minute read.

The Yahoo logo is shown at the company's headquarters in Sunnyvale, California . (photo credit: REUTERS)

When Yahoo teamed up with the NFL to live stream a football game globally on October 25, it set a record for streaming sports.

The stream attracted 15.2 million people from around the world, and its success bodes well for the central role the company has given to video and live sports streaming.

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“Our goal is to be the premium platform for sporting events,” Yahoo’s VP, video products engineering, P.P.S.

Narayan, told The Jerusalem Post in the company’s Tel Aviv offices last week.

Much of the technology that allowed Yahoo to stream the game to so many people simultaneously, with low buffer times and fast download speeds, was developed in the company’s Israel offices.

That’s one reason that the local branch, which includes development in the fields of video, ads and search, is not concerned about the potential shakeup at Yahoo, which is considering several strategies to deal with falling revenues. Among them is spinning off its core Internet business.

“The key answer is that the teams in Israel and Sunnyvale [in California] are industry leading from a technology perspective, and that’s where we’re investing,” Narayan said.

The impact of any moves by the corporation’s headquarters on Israel would be “minimal to none,” he predicted.

The show of confidence is impressive given that Yahoo only opened its offices in Tel Aviv in 2010, with the $55 million acquisition of ad company Dapper, two years after it opened it Haifa office.

Last year, it acquired the video streaming platform company RayV – which has become a central part of its video operations here – for an undisclosed amount, followed by anti-ad blocking software company ClarityRay, for a reported $15m-$20m.

Narayan said that as consumer habits regarding video content change, technology will be ever more important.

“There is a pretty significant shift that’s happening from a consumption perspective when it comes to video,” he said.

In the US, fewer people are paying for TV and subscribing to cable and satellite channels. Millennials in particular are shifting to online viewing. That means both that younger consumers are cutting their cords, and that they are spending less time watching a linear line-up of TV shows, choosing instead on-demand access.

“That consumption shift is driving a lot of the content shift, which is basically that folks on cable are taking their content, moving it from their cable bundle, and putting it on computers, tablets and connected TVs,” he said.

Those habits drive technology and content which further drive changes in habits, a process Narayan said was a “virtuous circle.” One of the main obstacles is increasing quality without adding to download times and hassle.

“Basically we give the best quality that any device can play,” said Lev Korostyshevsky, Yahoo’s director of engineering for video, who joined the company through the RayV acquisition.

Beyond becoming a platform for live sporting events, which is its main priority, the company is also branching out.

It is also looking into other partnerships – the company will livestream Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting this year, for example.

The company is also preparing for the next wave: virtual reality and 360-degree video.

“The next generation immersive experience is the 360 experience and immersive experience,” Korostyshevsky said.

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