Music Choice, which delivers dozens of channels of streaming music to over 50 million homes in the U.S. via digital set-top boxes, is raising the bar on TV Everywhere by offering its whole array of services via the cloud to connected and mobile devices. In an initiative announced last week, Music Choice is partnering with content management provider Sitecore, digital media platform Unicorn Media and Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud service.
It's the first time I'm aware that any network has made its entire linear offering, and enhancements, available to connected and mobile devices via the TV Everywhere model to authenticated subscribers. Music Choice will deliver all 45 of its channels of digital music, (with contextual content like album art plus song and artist information), hundreds of music videos, the ability for users to create completely custom channels, and its SWRV interactive network all online and to mobile devices. Music Choice's president and CEO, Dave Del Beccaro, and Director of Connected Technology Jason Guarracino along with David Morel, Unicorn's VP of Client Services brought me up to speed.
The big breakthroughs here are the ability to serve all the networks via the Azure cloud at scale to millions of potential listeners, to any possible connected or mobile device. The Unicorn ONCE platform transcodes to 12 formats and is then able to deliver to 4,400 different devices, dynamically detecting which format is appropriate. Rather than taking its set-top box channel feeds and pumping them out over the Internet, each of the networks' individual programming schedules are being replicated in the cloud. This gives Music Choice greater flexibility for users to create their own channels, share them with others or even co-create new channels. It also allows Music Choice to customize ads for particular users or geographic areas and get full analytics.
According to Dave, Music Choice online will bring new benefits to music lovers accustomed to services like Pandora or Spotify. For example, Music Choice gives users multiple ways to start a new channel, including naming up to 5 artists or songs. In addition to using algorithms, Music Choice also uses human curators to create universes of songs that the channel is built from. This helps create a more programmed experience, resulting in higher satisfaction. Music Choice will also enable single song playback, and will include interviews and other original content.
Digital music is a highly competitive space, and Music Choice has recognized that to be an important player in the future it has to evolve well beyond its traditional set-top box delivery model. The new service launches in December and will be another step forward for TV Everywhere and for moving content into the cloud for use on connected and mobile devices.
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