With my focus yesterday on Amazon’s introduction of its Streaming Partners Program and my recognition as a top 10 media writer by LinkedIn, I didn’t have a chance to weigh in on something else significant, which is that Clearleap has been acquired by IBM (terms weren't disclosed). I have covered Clearleap for years and was able to catch up with CEO Braxton Jarratt later in the day to learn more about what drove the deal and what to expect going forward.
Braxton said that Clearleap will be a wholly-owned IBM subsidiary, retaining all of its employees and offices while being integrated into IBM Cloud. Clearleap will continue to provide its cloud-based video/OTT services to customers including HBO, A+E Networks, NFL, BBC America, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and others but it will gain new sales/business development leverage internationally, which is a key company focus. Clearleap’s solutions will be sold by IBM’s Media and Entertainment teams internationally, with incremental Clearleap staff to be hired internationally as well.
Braxton said that leveraging IBM’s Watson Analytics to provide Clearleap customers with far richer analytics about their video services will be one of the key benefits. Clearleap had been investigating whether to ramp up R&D investments in analytics given customers’ interest, and so the IBM deal directly addresses this need. Watson Analytics is IBM’s cloud-based analytics and discovery service, which includes predictive analytics that would be valuable for TV/OTT providers’ recommendations, as one example. IBM sees video as the biggest type of data that is currently under-exploited and its goal is to turn video data into a strategic resource.
More broadly, Braxton said the genesis of the deal was integrating Clearleap with IBM Cloud as Clearleap has done with Amazon and Microsoft previously (those integrations will continue post-acquisition too). IBM has identified video as an important growth area for cloud services, not only for media and entertainment companies but also for industries like education, enterprise, health care, etc. To enable this, IBM intends to offer Clearleap’s APIs on IBM Bluemix in 2016 so that customers can being building a variety of video services.
The Clearleap-IBM deal is at the intersection of data and cloud services, two of the biggest trends in the video industry today. Video providers are gaining huge financial and operational advantages from cloud delivery. Once services are up and running, the ability to tap into data to optimize the viewer’s experience and overall ROI are mission critical. Incidentally, cloud and data are also critical aspects to yesterday’s Amazon Streaming Partners Program initiative. The Clearleap-IBM deal is yet another example of how video industry is becoming increasingly sophisticated.