• ActiveVideo and Videon Central Team to Bring Video Apps to CE Devices

    Another building block for delivering video applications to the home through broadband connections is being announced this morning by ActiveVideo Networks and Videon Central. The companies are unveiling a partnership in which AVN's client software will be embedded in Videon's middleware stack used in millions of CE devices. I talked to AVN's SVP of Marketing Edgar Villalpando and Videon's VP of Business Development Michael Daulerio last week to learn more.

    For those not familiar with AVN, it is a cloud-based provider of interactive video applications, with customers like Showtime, Fox Reality, HSN and others. AVN initially focused on delivering apps to service providers' set-top boxes, but has also expanded into the Internet-connected CE space. Videon provides middleware to semiconductor and CE manufacturers, driving user interface and navigation in various devices. As an example, its middleware can be found in over 2M Blu-ray players from Samsung, LG, Insignia and others.

    As Edgar and Michael explained, the goal of the partnership is to enable content providers and others to deliver up-to-date video apps to the growing universe of connected-CE homes. In some ways this is comparable to what Intel and Yahoo are doing with the Widget Channel and other industry initiatives.

    To understand how this works, think of a consumer who rents The Dark Knight Blu-ray disc. The disc itself has additional content like Director's cuts, etc. The problem is that the disc's content is fixed, whereas there's always new Dark Knight-related content being produced (e.g. branded entertainment, product-tie ins, games, user-generated content, etc.). Simply using a bumper to promote the Dark Knight's URL on the disc is a start, but it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of specific promotion. Given the amount of money now involved in ancillary revenue streams, Warner Bros, the Dark Knight's distributor, is highly motivated to drive stronger engagement.

    Once implemented, a Blu-ray player with AVN/Videon that's connected to the web allows additional video apps and targeted advertising to be presented seamlessly. The idea of joining offline and online media is a powerful draw for content providers trying to build larger franchises around specific titles. The apps are built with AVN's tools that use web standards like JavaScript and HTML. And with cloud-based delivery, storage needs are minimal and content updates can be frequent. Of course, this is not just restricted to Blu-ray players; Michael explained that Videon's middleware is being included in Internet-enabled TVs and other devices as well.

    There is much speculation about how convergence between broadband and TVs is going to unfold. A big sticking point is how the convergence device gets into the home and who pays for it - consumer, content provider or both. From my perspective, building blocks like AVN-Videon are important because they open up new revenue opportunities for content providers and others to help offset the cost of the device. I expect these kinds of initiatives throughout the ecosystem will only accelerate, bringing the convergence era ever closer.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.