The content delivery network (CDN) market is getting more attention thanks to the hype around edge, and now Google wants in on the action.

The search giant this week unveiled Media CDN, which takes the same infrastructure it uses for Google Cloud and YouTube and makes it available to media and entertainment companies that want to use it for their own video streaming services.

Being a Google-scale initiative, one of Media CDN’s biggest selling points is reach.

“Media CDN’s foundational advantage is the Google Network,” said Google, in a blog post on Monday. “We have invested decades of resources to build tremendous capacity and reach in over 200 countries and more than 1,300 cities around the globe. Modern video applications are sensitive to fluctuations in latency, so getting content closer to users enables higher bitrates and reduces rebuffers, resulting in a superior experience for the end user.”


Google’s entry into the CDN market is a logical step after it began last summer to migrate parts of YouTube from its on-premises data centres to Google Cloud. The migration adds a media string to its CDN bow by aligning its YouTube assets with its existing CDN solutions, which up to this point have been used to offer Web and API acceleration for cloud-based enterprise applications. The migration also served as a proof point for its public cloud infrastructure, showing that Google was prepared to trust Cloud with one of its most-prized assets, and therefore enterprises should trust it too.

Back to Media CDN, and in addition to content caching, it also promises to do a lot of the technical heavy lifting, such as on-the-fly transcoding into different streaming formats for different end user devices. For customers, that should make it easier and cheaper to get their streaming service up and running on different smart TVs, games consoles, smartphones and so-on. It also provides the framework for offering interactive viewing experiences, so a sports streaming service could allow viewers – the nerdy ones – to access real-time stats while they watch, for example.


In addition to global scale, the other thing Google is well known for of course is advertising, and there was no way it was ever going to leave that out of Media CDN. Customers will have access to Google’s various video advertising tools, including Video Stitcher API, which will enable them to insert those relevant albeit slightly annoying pre-roll ads into their content.

Google offered up two launch customers for Media CDN in the form of Australian streaming service Stan and Japan’s U-Next. Others are sure to follow as competition in the streaming market heats up, pressuring providers to look for new ways to gain an advantage.

The launch of Media CDN is also symptomatic of the overlap between the public cloud, CDN, and multi-access edge computing (MEC) markets. Indeed, February saw CDN stalwart Akamai enter the public cloud market by splashing $900 million on Linode, a public cloud provider that pitches itself as a developer-friendly alternative to Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, and Google of course.

This confluence of use cases and the resultant heightened interest led analyst firm ABI Research to predict in March that the value of the CDN sector will double by 2030 to $23.9 billion. That prediction might prove to be conservative now that Google has muscled into the market.