This morning Brightcove is making its first TV Everywhere ("TVE") related announcement, introducing its "TV Everywhere Solution Pack" (TVE-SP), which is the Brightcove 4 enterprise edition augmented with new components and services to support TVE rollouts. It is also unveiling a strategic alliance with Ping Identity to integrate its PingFederate security software with TVE-SP, to enable user authentication and authorization. Lastly, Brightcove has promoted Eric Elia from VP of Professional Services to VP of TV Solutions, charged with leading the company's TVE initiatives. Brightcove's CEO and founder Jeremy Allaire briefed me last week.
To understand how TVE-SP fits in, it is important to quickly review the TVE model. To date, most discussion of TVE has focused on multichannel video programming distributors ("MVPDs") providing their subscribers with online access to TV programming through their own portals or services, for no extra charge (e.g. Comcast's Fancast Xfinity TV). Receiving less attention so far is that the programmers who agree to participate in MVPD portals will likely require they are also able to offer their same programs on their own sites, which are an increasingly important part of their brand identity and direct-to-consumer focus.
Something else that hasn't received a lot of attention to date is that not all MVPDs will follow Comcast's model of managing, hosting and delivering the online programs themselves. Rather, some MVPDs will prefer to provide just the barebones online navigation, with TV programmers providing an embeddable video player and also delivering all the programming. Less-resourced MVPDs could end of relying heavily on programmers to power their TVE offerings. Where programmers already have online video platforms such as Brightcove in place, these OVPs are in a position to influence how TVE operates. (As a sidenote, I've heard multiple times that Comcast itself is also offering a white labeled version of its FXTV portal to other MVPDs).
All of this means there's likely to be plenty of heterogeneity in TV Everywhere rollouts. Recognizing this, a key part of Brightcove's product strategy is aligning with Ping to use PingFederate and the SAML 2.0 standard for user authentication and authorization. SMAL is used to exchange data between domains (e.g. between a TV programmer, whose web site visitor is trying to access a certain program and an MVPD which holds that user's subscription profile). This type of secure exchange will be essential for TV programmers to offer their own programs on their own sites in a TVE world.
SAML has been widely used in the SaaS business applications and Ping itself lists Comcast, Cox, Bell Canada and Discovery, among others, as customers. However, I suspect these are likely on the enterprise side, not the consumer-facing side. As a result, Brightcove's approach will require significant testing before it will be deemed acceptable by MVPDs. In fact, Brightcove's new white paper indicates that additional standards are required and that some of this is underway at CableLabs, the cable industry's development lab.
It's also worth noting that thePlatform (owned by Comcast) has 4 of the top 5 U.S. cable operators, plus Rogers in Canada, as customers, and ExtendMedia has the major U.S. telcos, plus Bell Canada, as customers. With Brightcove powering video at 60+ TV programmer websites, there are no doubt some interesting dynamics ahead as these OVPs' customers negotiate their TVE relationships and influence the interoperability of their respective technology providers. For its part, thePlatform, which also supports many content providers' video, introduced last November an "Authentication Adaptor" as part of its media publishing system to smooth the authentication and authorization process for programmers offering TVE shows on their own sites.
Confused yet? This is pretty dense stuff, and illustrates some of the hurdles ahead for TVE's widespread rollout. Meanwhile, lurking over TVE's shoulder are the raft of over-the-top alternatives (e.g. Netflix, Boxee, Apple, Xbox, YouTube, etc.) that are sure to gain additional traction with consumers (as a sidenote, yesterday's Best Buy Sunday circular promoted no fewer than 5 Blu-ray players as Netflix compatible, with each showcasing the Netflix logo).
As the TVE story unfolds, Brightcove is sure to be in the middle of the action given its market presence and technical capabilities. But how it all shakes out remains to be seen.
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(Note - Brightcove, thePlatform and ExtendMedia are VideoNuze sponsors)