Online video platform provider thePlatform and IPTV services/hardware giant Alcatel-Lucent are introducing an exclusive joint solution this morning to further accelerate pay-TV operators' transition to an all IP-based delivery model targeting multiple devices. The goal is to provide a soup-to-nuts system for pay-TV operators that combines the same control and security of traditional single purpose QAM video networks with the flexibility and cost-effectiveness that IP delivery offers. thePlatform's CEO Ian Blaine and AlcaLu's SVP, Global IP Video Solutions Derrick Frost, brought me up to speed last week.
The companies' multiscreen video platform solution has 3 components:
Cloud video management - this is primarily thePlatform's mpx cloud video management platform that is the central nervous system of the solution. It provides content ingest, transcoding, various monetization opportunities, content protection, subscriber and device authentication and publishing. Ian also noted specific enhancements around metadata management, which can power advanced electronic program guide, and also the ability to resolve to QAM-based live TV streams (in addition to IP) when applicable. mpx also has deeper hooks into AlcaLu's Velocix CDN (see below) than traditional integrations thePlatform has done with other CDNs.
Multiscreen CDN - this is primarily AlcaLu's Velocix CDN which allows pay-TV operators to build and manage their own CDN instead of relying on third-party partners. The benefits are better video quality and lower costs, plus improved delivery via the integration with mpx. Ian and Derrick pointed to enhanced security at the session and stream level (comparable to the set-top box) as a key benefit of the mpx-Velocix integration.
Multiscreen clients - Last but not least are a series of client-side apps that make playback ubiquitous across various connected and mobile devices in a TV Everywhere landscape. The companies are committed to openness on the device side and will rely on thePlatform's HTML5 players. Key benefits include advanced session management so a viewer can seamlessly transition their experience from one device to the next without missing a scene (similar to what Netflix streaming does today). Advanced analytics across multiple devices/players are another differentiator.
Ian and Derrick said they have been testing the joint solution with a number of operators already but aren't yet ready to announce any customers. They see opportunities in all geographies, and with various types of pay-TV operators (cable, telco, established, greenfield, etc.). For thePlatform, access to AlcaLu's global sales teams was a big appeal of the partnership. However, thePlatform has by itself recently rolled out IP-based delivery to TVs with Telstra's BigPond service. But that was VOD-only, whereas the joint solution with AlcaLu content contemplates both live and VOD delivery. As such, it can be either a full replacement for traditional QAM delivery systems or a be a migration path for operators looking to enhance their networks over time.
Either way the solution is further evidence that the days of the single-purpose QAM video network will begin to fade away. Just as voice has now fully moved to IP delivery, video is on its way to doing so as well. For pay-TV operators, who are in a fight to keep up with the delivery and business model flexibility of Netflix and other OTT providers, efforts like thePlatform-AlcaLu's should be welcome.
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