Wednesday, September 24, 2008, 7:57 AM ET|Posted by Will Richmond
Another day, and another milestone reached in the market's ongoing embrace of video syndication.
Yesterday's significant news was that the Associated Press, which has built arguably the largest private broadband syndication network, including over 2,000 affiliates which receive thousands of video clips each month, has signed up thePlatform to power its Online Video Network. The deal effectively replaces Microsoft, which has been AP's partner for OVN for the past several years. AP uses OVN primarily to feed daily video clips to its newspaper and broadcast partner web sites which it monetizes through ads. Yesterday I caught up with Ian Blaine, thePlatform's CEO to learn more about the deal.
Ian explained that while the scale of AP's video syndication model is far more extensive than anything his company has supported in the past, thePlatform's ability to handle similar kinds of issues that AP faces was crucial in winning the deal. First and foremost is providing a workflow model that allows video assets to be ingested, encoded, tagged and distributed to the whole OVN in under 15 minutes. In the news business, obviously every second counts.
Beyond workflow efficiency, Ian explained that AP has a dizzying set of business rules that apply to its syndicated video, depending upon the particular outlet. So AP producers also have to be able to expeditiously apply policies and track each video accordingly. AP is also enabling its affiliates to upload their own videos, which are melded with AP video in the affiliate's player. So that required some of thePlatform's tools to be extended to affiliates, along with some basic video player customization.
The obvious question here is whether and when AP will extend OVN to the thousands of sites beyond its 2,000 current affiliates. Like Google Content Network which has virtually infinite end points, or even Anystream-Voxant which has 30,000+ publishing partners, why should AP restrict itself, particularly when news video is one of the hottest categories around? While hesitating to speak for AP's roadmap, Ian's sense was that AP first wants to master syndication to its own affiliates before considering opening up a full-blown video marketplace.
As I've written previously, my enthusiasm for the Syndicated Video Economy is tempered by the reality that significant operational, financial and strategic friction still impedes the model. Coincidentally, late yesterday someone asked me:"How will this syndication friction be resolved and how long will it take?" My response: "I can't say how long it will take, but the more experience the broadband ecosystem gets with real-world syndication, the faster the model will mature." In this respect, partnerships between big content providers like AP and capable technology partners like thePlatform will help move the model forward for everyone.
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