Sorenson Wants to Become King of High-Quality Internet Video

At a time when Internet video is shifting increasingly to high-resolution images and towards professional-quality production, Sorenson Media is going through a transition of its own. The private online video codec company that was founded in Salt Lake City, UT, is joining the move to high-quality delivery with the Sorenson 360 video-publishing platform for serious videographers and media companies. Under the leadership of Peter Csathy, who was named CEO ten weeks ago, Sorenson also has been moving more of its operations from Utah to the San Diego area, where Csathy lives.

Sorenson 360 is a video delivery network where users can easily send very large video files with their browser to a net site. With today’s introduction, Csathy says Sorenson is providing an innovation that video professionals have missed and wanted. “Our mission is to bring video with the highest quality easily to the world to maximize the Internet video opportunity,” says Csathy. “It’s a tremendous luxury that we don’t need to build from customer one. We are already well-positioned since the video-makers know and trust us.”

peter_csathySince Csathy took the CEO’s job in March, he has established an executive, business operations, and sales/marketing hub with 20 employees in Carlsbad, CA, about 31 miles north of San Diego. “San Diego has really become an innovation capital in digital media. This is an exciting local story in times when other companies are laying off people,” says Csathy and Sorenson is still hiring for positions in Carlsbad.

The company was founded in 1995 by James Lee Sorenson, who continues to serve as president. He also is CEO of The Sorenson Group, a large-scale real estate developer and medical device developer in Utah. Sorenson Media now has approximately 30 employees in Utah.

There are general high expectations for full-screen broadband net videos. “The Internet video market place is just in the early innings. We haven’t seen anything yet,” says Csathy. The Internet, he believes, is moving towards highest-quality films, and he sees video consumption growing exponentially. “It’s not only user-generated content. There’s explosive growth in the professional content,” he says. Professionally produced, brand-hosted online video grew 24.3 percent in 2008 to a whopping 41.6 billion views. The top categories are music, news, and entertainment, i.e., kids.

Online video will account for over half of all Internet traffic in 2012, said Csathy. And the Internet will converge with television. “Crisp, vivid video is one of the most powerful tools for engaging people on the Internet today,” he says. Even Google’s YouTube users nowadays can upload High Definition videos up to 1GB and up to 10 minutes.

Sorenson Media has been around long enough to score with many of the big names of the computer industry: In 1998 Sorenson’s SV1 codec was licensed to Apple’s Quicktime 3 player; in 2002 its Squeeze encoder was the first codec included in Macromedia (now Adobe) Flash; and in 2005 YouTube chose Sorenson’s Spark for its video codec. Now over a billion videos on the Internet have been coded with Spark. Last month, San Diego’s chip giant Qualcomm announced a licensing deal with Spark, following similar deals that were struck by Verizon and Sony.

The new flagship product, Sorenson 360, represents a new area for the codec company. For a monthly subscription that starts at $99, Sorenson 360 enables video makers to publish high-resolution videos on web sites either in Flash or MPEG-4 in minutes. High-quality publishing has been something that only high-cost online publishing platforms have been able to do before this.

Csathy was previously CEO of the Internet video company SightSpeed (acquired by Logitech in late 2008), president and COO of digital music ‘jukebox’ MusicMatch (acquired by Yahoo in 2004), and COO of on-line news aggregator eNow (acquired by AOL-TimeWarner in 2006). Now he says Sorenson is in just the right place—because, as he puts it, “video is in our DNA.”

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