• Clearleap Fuses Broadband Video and VOD in MaxPreps-Comcast Deal

    Yesterday's Multichannel News described a deal between MaxPreps.com and Comcast that shows how well broadband video and video-on-demand fit together, a notion I suggested earlier this year. In the deal, MaxPreps, a provider of high-school sports content (which is owned by CBS), is producing video content in the Houston market for exclusive distribution on Comcast's VOD system. The deal gives Comcast a local sports differentiator vs. satellite and telco competitors, while for MaxPreps it gives valuable access to TV viewers.

    Gluing the parties together is Clearleap, a technology provider I last wrote about here. As Braxton Jarratt, Clearleap's CEO explained to me, MaxPreps uses a team of freelance videographers to shoot and edit the video. They're given access to dedicated Clearleap accounts so that they can upload the video for a local MaxPreps content manager to review their work.

    The content manager uses Clearleap to make edits, set the release schedule, create playlists if desired, and approve the final package. Clearleap then transcodes the video to the appropriate format and pushes it to Comcast for general availability. Braxton said an hour-long football game could be live within 15 minutes for VOD viewing and that the deal was operationalized in just a few weeks, with very limited capex. In effect the process helps turn VOD into a dynamically programmed content outlet much the way we think of the web.

    For those accustomed to working solely online, constant, near real time content updates are routine. But for anyone who has worked with VOD systems, which are characterized by long lead times to get content ingested, prepared and made live, this workflow is a breakthrough. In fact, the MaxPreps-Comcast deal and workflow provides a possible glimpse into how a hybrid broadband-VOD model could work in the future and again why incumbent video providers who already have a set-top box sitting in the living room enjoy certain advantages.

    As I illustrated in last week's post about Comcast's results over the last 3 years, incumbent video providers are in a steel cage match for subscribers, particularly higher-spending ones who value digital options. Yet it has become exceptionally difficult to differentiate through exclusive content, as most channels now seek as wide distribution as they can get.

    For cable companies, whose roots are in their local communities, local sports VOD content could be a meaningful point of difference. And sports are just a starting point. One can imagine local entertainment, events, and localized versions of national programs all created/managed via the web, but viewed by consumers on VOD. The key is having the technical ability to cost-effectively collect and manage the video, and then insert it into the VOD system.

    If the MaxPreps-Comcast deal in Houston scales to additional territories, and Comcast rolls out additional VOD content, I expect other video providers will adopt a similar model.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

     
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