Not that long ago, when only authorized set-top boxes could receive video service, life was relatively simple for cable operators. But now, as cable operators and TV networks have begun deploying TV Everywhere, one of the key hurdles has become the time and expense involved with integrating and maintaining these services with the ever-expanding array of connected and mobile devices that consumers prefer. To address this pain point, mPortal, a provider of mobile service delivery solutions, is announcing this morning its SPRINGBOARD Media product, a cloud-based approach to help accelerate TV Everywhere rollouts.
Integration of TV Everywhere into devices has to date been an expensive custom process, with cable operators and TV networks determining their highest priority devices and then allocating resources to them one by one over time (a perfect example is HBO GO, which has migrated from the desktop to the iPad to certain connected devices to Roku and soon to Xbox). Given the urgency of TV Everywhere, mPortal's vision is for numerous devices to roll out concurrently, satisfying broader swaths of subscribers, while reducing integration expenses.
As Fady Lama, VP of Products at mPortal, explained to me last week, the SPRINGBOARD Media architecture is cloud-based with an HTML5 client deployed to the device (so it's immediately compatible with iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices, plus others that support HTML5), which interacts with the back-end that's in the cloud. By moving all the logic and processing work (authentication, subscriber management, billing, etc.) to the cloud where other attributes like metadata can be integrated, the client remains relatively lightweight. Policy, feature and monetization updates can be made quickly and uniformly in the cloud for all devices. Other benefits include automatic device detection, so correct formats are delivered, integration with social media, seamless device-to-device playback, DVR integration and a full analytics suite.
SPRINGBOARD Media is an extension of similar types of services mPortal has been deploying in the mobile space for years. For example, it is currently powering Comcast's Xfinity Mobile, which allows subscribers to access home management services from their smartphones, as well as "MyTWC," a similar service from Time Warner Cable. These pre-existing relationships with important TV Everywhere proponents will no doubt help drive interest in SPRINGBOARD Media (mPortal isn't announcing any customers today, but Fady indicated that by the NABShow next month, there should be some news).
While SPRINGBOARD Media is clearly a positive step for the technical deployment of TV Everywhere, the industry still has major business issues to resolve. Just yesterday an article in the WSJ outlined how intra-industry relationships are hampering progress. In addition, late last year, I itemized the 5 things I believe are holding back TV Everywhere. Eventually though, I think most of this will get ironed out and subscribers will be able to gain flexible access to their favorite programs. In the meantime, over-the-top services like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and others continue rolling out across numerous devices, raising consumer expectations for anytime, anywhere access.