Pay-TV operators are in a race to stay competitive and improve their services, rolling out advanced advertising, content recommendations, improved video-on-demand services, TV Everywhere, etc. While data is the foundation for all these types of services, because pay-TV operators have had so many different silos of data, they have been unable to fully tap into them.
To address this problem, BlackArrow has announced that its BlackArrow Audience 2.0 data management platform (DMP) is now available. The platform includes Profile Manager, which enables pay-TV operators to consolidate their first-party subscriber data and third-party data in one place.
Two key infrastructure players in the digital video ecosystem, thePlatform and Adobe, are announcing a strategic partnership to help accelerate major media and pay-TV operators' plans for multiscreen video delivery. The companies have integrated Adobe Primetime and thePlatform's mpx video management system to form a complete solution, which the companies will jointly sell.
In a briefing, Ian Blaine, CEO of thePlatform and Ashley Still, director or product management at Adobe, told me that the companies have been collaborating for some time, most recently on NBC Olympics' multiscreen delivery of the 2014 Winter Olympics. The new integrated solution is meant to productize these prior collaborations and provide customers with faster time to market, better viewer engagement and lower total cost of ownership.
Among the apps launched this week on Amazon's new Fire TV was the ACC Digital Network, a joint venture between Silver Chalice and Raycom Sports. ACC Digital Network is the Atlantic Coast Conference's multimedia destination featuring live streaming and other original programming. In addition to being online, it also recently launched on Apple TV.
To get up and running quickly on Fire TV, SportsLabs, a division of Silver Chalice, turned to 1 Mainstream, a platform for deploying HD video services on a variety of connected TV and mobile devices that launched last December. I caught up with Rajeev Raman, 1 Mainstream's CEO (and previously head of product at Roku), to learn more about how the company is helping content providers quickly build and deploy apps.
The march of content providers into the living room is getting yet another boost as JW Player, whose video solution is used by thousands of content providers, will support Chromecast. JW Player's CEO Dave Otten and creator Jeroen Wijering told me yesterday that the beta is underway with 5 different content providers implementing JW Player with Chromecast support, which will go live over the next several weeks.
JW Player will support VAST-compliant advertising, so that video ads will be viewable on TVs when playing through Chromecast. As this demo video shows, JW Player has also enhanced its ad implementation by enabling companion banners to appear on the device driving the Chromecast, so users can engage with the advertiser as their video ad plays on the big screen.
Vubiquity has announced AnyVU Cloud, a new cloud-based, multi-device video services platform providing both linear and on-demand content. In addition, the company has announced Akamai as its first partner, dubbing the combined solution "content-as-a-service." It is directed to existing pay-TV operators, content owners and OTT providers for a range of monetization models.
AnyVU Cloud is a milestone for Vubiquity in evolving from the traditional business of managing and delivering video primarily to set-top boxes for incumbent providers to operating in a far more complex landscape in which video is delivered over IP networks to multiple devices by multiple providers with widely varying business rules and monetization.
Conviva has released its 2014 Viewer Experience Report, finding that of the 45 billion video views in 2013 that it analyzed, 26.9% were impacted by buffering, an improvement from 39.3% in 2012, while those impacted by low resolution delivery also improved, to 43.3% from 63% in 2012. Offsetting these was a rise in video start failures from 4% in 2012 to 4.8% in 2013.
As consumers shift their viewing to online from traditional TV, they bring along expectations of the seamless experience, so the Conviva data is critical to understand how well these expectations are being met. In fact, Conviva found that online viewers expectations are actually rising as they shift to online.
5 Steps to Making Multi-Screen Video Work with the Cloud
As we charge into 2014, pay-TV operators aren't just toying with the idea of granting consumers access to content from a variety of connected devices; it is now the standard. This shift in viewing consumption has driven operators and technology partners to 'look under the hood' of their platforms and re-assess content delivery and management schemes.
The biggest concern facing operators is how the industry can protect content when being delivered over different devices. How can operators achieve the right content protection mix and content management scheme in a scalable fashion while ensuring a consistent user experience? The answer could be found in the cloud. Following are 5 key steps to consider for making multi-screen video work with the cloud:
Video curator Magnify.net drew 18.7 million unique visitors for the 30-day period ending February 12, 2014, up from 6.1 million uniques in the same period of 2013, a 209% increase (see chart below). Magnify.net's CEO Steve Rosenbaum shared the results with me and explained that the significant rise was due primarily to the launch of new publishing partners such as AARP, New York magazine, Grind Media and others, plus the broader adoption of video viewing on desktops and mobile video and one video in particular going viral.
For a glimpse into cloud computing's significant contribution to the successful scaling of online video advertising, yesterday BrightRoll shared some details of its relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS) which it has been working with since 2008. According to BrightRoll, AWS now processes 30 billion data points per day in order to deliver 3 billion video ads per month. BrightRoll said in 2013 it delivered over 23 petabytes of content, which will double in 2014. In a related case study, Kenneth Cheung, BrightRoll's senior director of engineering said that "If AWS didn't exist, BrightRoll would be a different company."
Adobe has published its Q4 '13 U.S. Digital Video Benchmark report, finding that authenticated TV Everywhere streams more than doubled in 2013 to 574.2 million, up from 222.5 million in 2012. As the graph below shows, 73% of authenticated views occurred on mobile devices, 22% on desktop and less than 5% each on gaming consoles and connected TVs. For the mobile viewing, tablet share more than doubled vs. 2012 to 42%, with smartphone declining to 31%.
Jivox, a multi-screen interactive ad technology provider, has raised a $5.8 million Series C financing. The round was led by Fortisure Ventures, with participation by Shah Capital and existing investors Opus Capital and Helion Advisors. Jivox intends to use the financing to grow its sales and marketing plus further build out its Jivox IQ video ad creation/management platform.
Video stream optimizer Conviva reported today that its Intelligent Control Platform processed over 45 billion streams in 2013, a 4x increase in the last two years. The streams were viewed across more than 1.6 billion devices, including PCs, tablets, smartphones and connected TVs, in 180 countries and through more than 400 premium media video players.
Conviva's platform monitors and optimizes the delivery of premium online video by content and service providers. The company said that in 2013 it made over 4 million preemptive, automated corrective actions per day for individual users, devices and routes which improved video experiences. Conviva's software analyzes and measures what viewers are watching, at every second checking for quality issues such as buffering, long start times, video artifacts, and stuttering.
Akamai and NBC Sports announced this morning that Akamai will be powering video streaming, site performance and security services for the 2014 Winter Olympics on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports Live Extra app. The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia will run from February 6-23.
NBC Sports plans to stream over 1,000 hours of Olympics content, double what it did 4 years ago from Vancouver. Streaming will include all 15 sports across 98 different events, plus lots of exclusive content such as interviews, athlete profiles and backstories that have become standard Olympics fare.
Interactive video advertising provider Innovid and Cisco are building on their previously announced partnership, announcing an initiative to have ads dynamically delivered to second screens using voice-based metadata from TV programs. Innovid's CTO and co-founder Tal Chalozin showed me a demo last week of Cisco's cloud-based technology analyzing words spoken in TV programming to generate keywords and context. The information was then passed to Innovid which delivered a relevant, interactive ad to the viewer's second screen within a few seconds.
Brightcove announced this morning that it is acquiring Unicorn Media for approximately $49 million, a savvy move to expand into cloud-based video ad insertion, which is particularly beneficial for mobile devices.
Unicorn has differentiated itself by enabling content providers to dynamically insert ads in the cloud, rather than in the video player. By "stitching" ads in the cloud, Unicorn obviates some of the major issues in video ad insertion today, including delays and buffering caused by the video player switching between content and ad playback. These diminish the user experience, in turn causing abandonment which hurts overall consumption and monetization.
Samsung has announced that it has licensed the Reference Design Kit (RDK) from RDK Management to accelerate delivery of next-generation IP video onto new devices. RDK Management is a joint venture between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, with the aim of developing a standardized set of software bundles for set-top boxes.
The RDK is a pre-integrated software bundle, initially developed and licensed by Comcast to create a common framework for powering tru2way, IP or hybrid set-top boxes and gateway devices. The RDK’s software bundle can also power gateway devices, and other devices like connected TVs and other CE devices.
Beachfront Media announced the 2.0 version of its Beachfront Builder mobile video app platform at VideoSchmooze today, including new social, commerce, analytics and video management features. Beachfront's CEO Frank Sinton shared a demo with me last week and provided further details today.
Frank explained that Beachfront's customers have been looking to augment their video apps with more social and community-building capabilities. So with the Beachfront Builder 2.0, content providers can add social feeds from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr, enabling users to engage within the apps themselves. Users can also login to create cross-platform watch later lists, comment and share videos more easily.
Topics: Beachfront Builder
Content recommendation provider Taboola, which I've been tracking since its early days, is now on a $100 million annual revenue run rate, according to co-founder and CEO Adam Singolda, whom I spoke to yesterday. It's the first time Taboola has revealed its revenue profile, and Adam also said the company has also been cash flow positive for several months.
Taboola got its start helping content providers generate more video views on their sites by analyzing their own videos and the sites' users' behaviors and then adding a strip of recommended videos to help recirculate traffic. It then expanded by providing those recommendations to an ever-growing publisher network. In December, 2011, it applied the same underlying predictive technology to article recommendations and also began distributing these through its network. Adam said there are now over 1 million articles and videos, which are recommended 3 billion times/day.
Clearleap has raised a new round of $20 million led by Susquehanna Growth to help accelerate TV Everywhere deployments by content providers and pay-TV operators both domestically and internationally. With the new financing, Clearleap has raised $36 million to date. Clearleap plans to hire 150 employees over the next 18 months.
Late last week online video platform provider Kaltura announced MediaGo, a new offering that allows content providers and smaller pay-TV operators to quickly stand up their own subscription VOD services. Kaltura is positioning MediaGo as a "Netflix-like" video portal which wraps new merchant/billing services and subscription management with core CMS, multi-device player and content preparation features.