Limelight Picking Up Steam In Mobile Video


No surprise: The CBS March Madness On Demand app, which lets you watch live NCAA tournament games over wi-fi, is the no. 1 paid app in Apple’s iPhone App Store today.

That’s good news for its backers, which include CBS (CBS) and mobile video company MobiTV.

But it’s also good news for the company that’s getting paid to push the video over the Internet to your phone: Content delivery network Limelight Networks (LLNW).

Limelight has carved out a bit of a cottage industry serving up video to iPhones. In addition to the March Madness On Demand app, it also delivers the video in Major League Baseball’s excellent At Bat app. That’s interesting because both CBS and MLB use Limelight arch rival Akamai Technologies (AKAM) to deliver live video to computers — but Limelight for the mobile stuff.

Why? One industry source says it seems to be a matter of focus. “Akamai simply does not seem to be very interested in attacking the mobile space,” our source says. “They are still focused on the PC market and expansion into the set-top box world while Limelight seems to have shifted a bit to try and pick up the mobile segment.”

That makes some sense, given the relatively small U.S. mobile video market: About 3% of U.S. mobile subscribers watch TV/video on their mobile phones, according to comScore M:Metrics. And it also makes sense that a bandwidth company would want to focus on PC and set-top box video, where the file sizes and bit rates are higher than mobile video streams.

Akamai, reached for comment, says mobile video is a “large focus” for the company, with numerous clients, such as News Corp.’s (NWS) MySpace. “Most of our broadcast customers are actively pursuing mobile content strategies — particularly on the iPhone — and Akamai is already serving a great deal of this content on our network.”