TV Everywhere is getting another shot of momentum this morning as thePlatform, one of the leading online video platform companies (and a subsidiary of Comcast) is rolling out new features aimed at giving TV networks greater control of their programs in the coming TV Everywhere world.
The key new feature is what thePlatform calls an "Authentication Adaptor," which is a mechanism for networks that want to offer their programs on their own web sites to authenticate users as current paying video subscribers of a multichannel video provider (recall that under current TVE plans it is a requirement to be a multichannel video subscriber in order to access programs online). The authentication adaptor works by instantly checking with appropriate multichannel providers' billing systems and returning a yes/no authentication response for that user.
If the user is authenticated, then the adaptor verifies that the specific program is available for viewing to that user, depending on what tier of service the user subscribes to. thePlatform does this by mapping each individual show to specific channels that each have an ID. The channel IDs are in turn mapped to the multichannel provider's subscription packages. For example if you were to try watching "Entourage" on HBO.com, but you didn't subscribe to HBO the linear channel via your service provider (e.g. Comcast, Time Warner Cable, etc.), your request would be denied. As one can imagine, with the endless permutations of shows, networks, subscription packages and multichannel providers, linking all of this together and delivering fast response times to the user is quite a challenge.
What's also interesting here is that if indeed a request has been denied, a marketing opportunity has been created for both the TV network and the multichannel provider. In the Entourage example above, the denial message could be accompanied by offers to watch now on a pay-per-view basis or to instantly become a subscriber to HBO via Comcast, or to buy the DVD, etc. Or maybe the offer is just to watch free clips to improve sampling. thePlatform supports the creation of these types of rules and integration to appropriate 3rd parties. This is a great example of how TV Everywhere also opens up the instant-gratification online economy to networks and video providers.
The new features gain in importance as thePlatform is also announcing this morning more than 20 TV networks have recently become customers including Fox Sports Networks, E!, G4, Style, Comcast Sports Group (a group of regional sports networks), Travel Channel, Big Ten Network and others yet to be named. As TV Everywhere rolls out next year, TV networks will become increasingly interested in offering their programs themselves, in addition to offering access on their distributors' web sites.
Separate, thePlatform is also announcing today that it is working with Rogers, which is Canada's leading multichannel video provider, on an online video initiative. Though details aren't provided, Rogers recently disclosed that is also pursuing TV Everywhere, so it's probably logical to put two and two together. thePlatform also provides video management services to large American operators Cablevision, Cox, Time Warner Cable, in addition to parent company Comcast. Between the video provider deals and the TV networks deals, thePlatform finds itself squarely in the middle of the TV Everywhere action.
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