Video Analytics Startup Mux Raises $2.8M, Hopes To Make Video Streams More User-Friendly

StreamMux, a video analytics platform created by the co-founders of Zencoder, which sold to video player Brightcove in 2012, has raised $2.8 million in seed funding to give publishers more access to data about their video streams.

Mux, which employs 10 people, will use the financing to grow headcount and for product engineering and research and development.

Early publishers using the platform include PBS and the comedy video site Funny or Die, co-founded by Will Ferrell.

Funny or Die once used Conviva for video analytics but didn’t need all of the services that came along with a bundled suite, so it beta tested the point solution Mux because it integrated easily with its existing video player, Video.js.

At 19.8 million monthly video views on desktop in July (up from 5.8 million a year earlier, according to comScore), Funny or Die knew it had a large video audience, but it needed help identifying the drop-off points.

Improving the video experience was especially critical as it moved toward native advertising and branded entertainment as opposed to chasing high-volume CPMs. “We do our best to try and stay on top of video quality,” said Funny Or Die’s VP of engineering Ken Scott-Hlebek.

Mux embeds JavaScript into the video player, which monitors video attributes such as error rate, rebuffering instances, rendering time and overall quality.

Although online video players, supply-side platforms and content distribution networks each offer their own form of analytics, Mux says there needs to be an independent arbiter of the data across those platforms. 

“One big pain point we hear from customers is when they call up their online video player or content delivery network, everyone just wants to blame [poor video playback] on someone else,” said Jon Dahl, the co-founder of Mux. “Having a neutral party that can objectively say, ‘This is what’s happening with your video and where it’s happening,’ makes it easier to manage other vendors.”

Mux hopes to address another major pain point for video publishers: the consumer migration from desktop to mobile viewing and the changing technical requirements to support HTML5.

Although a lot of that is handled is by the video player itself, Dahl said more publishers are looking for better performance data to do things like A/B test creative according to browser and device type.

Funny or Die’s audience tends to skew young and tech-savvy, so it sees a fairly even split between desktop and mobile video views, but that wasn’t always the case.

“We used to serve different videos to desktop and mobile or Android and Safari when we had a Flash player, which is why we deployed an HTML5 player when we did,” said Jon Gubman, a principal engineer for Funny or Die.

Using a player that’s optimized for HTML5 makes things easier on ad ops, he added, “since they don’t have to [normalize] separate Flash, HTML5 or Android creative for the same pre-roll. We can just use DFP [DoubleClick for Publishers] to serve the same creative to desktop and mobile.”

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