Akamai and the BBC: News Reporting on CDNs Getting Shoddy

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Includes: AKAM, LLNW, LVLT
by: Dan Rayburn

While I think it's great that more folks are starting to write about the content delivery market as it pertains to video, lately, too many articles being published are full of inaccurate and just flat out wrong info. Earlier in the week, there was the ZDNet story about Limelight (NASDAQ:LLNW), the Olympics and Akamai (NASDAQ:AKAM) which got many of the facts wrong on how Limelight and Akamai's networks operate, requiring both companies to respond to the article to correct the info.

And earlier today, we had multiple bloggers reporting that Level 3 (NASDAQ:LVLT) had signed up the BBC for business that had been taken from Akamai. The source for this info was from a blog posting by Anthony Rose at the BBC who heads their digital media technology. Nowhere in Anthony's post did he say anything about "switching" from Akamai to Level 3 or "replacing" Akamai for Level 3. Bloggers are implying that Akamai was the "previously chosen" provider and that Akamai has lost their BBC business, which is blatantly inaccurate, as confirmed by Akamai.

Where is the fact checking by these authors? How about speaking to the companies involved before you write the article? You're trying to decipher what someone from the BBC said on his blog and implying things as "facts" which is inaccurate. I had no problem contacting both networks involved to confirm the accurate info as I read it from the BBC blog.

Yes, the BBC has signed up with Level 3 for a new trial using H.264. But as Anthony says on his blog, "we're going to create our content in both On2 VP6 and H.264 format". So this is new business that Level 3 is getting and not the business that Akamai still has with the BBC. How did so many bloggers get this wrong? Clearly we know it is new business when Anthony says in his blog that "Initially the H.264 option will only be offered to people who have the latest version of Flash installed, and will be offered incrementally as new content rolls out through our encoding chain." It's not a replacement for what the BBC is doing now; it is an addition that will be rolled out in phases.

Not all writers got it wrong. Like me, Rob at TelcomRamblings.com questioned the assumption that Akamai was "replaced" and instead he focused on writing an interesting post on what some of the issues are at the ISP level for the delivery of the iPlayer.

Bottom line, journalists need to do a much better job of fact checking and not run a story just for the headline or because they feel since other bloggers ran it, they have to also. Myself included am not above the responsibility we all have to get the facts right. I'm sure I have not gotten every single thing I have ever written perfect, but you have a much better chance when you speak to the companies involved before you publish an article.