thePlatform’s co-CEO Marty Roberts has left the company, GeekWire first reported yesterday. Comcast, which owns thePlatform, confirmed the move subsequently in a statement (see below). Roberts had been with thePlatform for 9 years, beginning as VP, Marketing, then as SVP, Sales and Marketing, and finally as co-CEO, with Jamie Miller. Both were appointed in May, 2014, upon prior CEO Ian Blaine’s departure.
thePlatform’s mpx system has been chosen by Parsifal Entertainment Group for backend video management and publishing for STARZ PLAY Arabia, a new SVOD service in Middle East and North Africa markets. Parsifal is a Swedish media company that STARZ tapped a year ago to assist with its international rollout.
thePlatform has introduced Unified Ingest Service, a streamlined process for pay-TV operators to manage video and metadata for distribution across set-top boxes and connected/mobile devices.
thePlatform's co-CEO Marty Roberts told me that while operators are highly motivated to increase the breadth of their content offerings, they are challenged by the fact that ingest is still a largely siloed process depending on distribution channel (e.g. linear, VOD, IP video, etc.). As an example, Marty noted that in one operator's case, it is now taking in up to 16 different files for the exact same piece of content.
thePlatform has announced that is powering 2 new SVOD services, shomi in Canada and Stan in Australia. shomi was launched in late 2014 by Canadian pay-TV operators Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications. Stan is a join venture of Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media Limited.
Both SVOD services are using thePlatform's mpx video publishing system for video workflow, metadata management, purchasing support through a payment gateway, subscriber management and viewing rights enforcement, and automated publishing across devices and video players.
Synacor, which provides TV Everywhere and portal solutions to small-and-medium sized pay-TV operators, has partnered with thePlatform to integrate the latter's mpx video management system. Himesh Bhise, Synacor's CEO, told me that the deal furthers the company's goal to be a white label provider of end-to-end managed video solutions, supporting customers who are increasingly exploring a range of new services and business models.
TV networks around the world are scrambling to deliver their content to multiple screens as viewer behavior continues to shift from scheduled to time-shifted/on-demand. But doing so efficiently is complicated by disparate systems required to set and reset viewing and ad policies. To streamline this process, thePlatform is launching mpx Replay today, which gives TV networks the tools to quickly make available programs for catch-up and start-over viewing across screens.
thePlatform has announced a larger multi-year relationship with existing customer BT under which its mpx system will provide video publishing for BT TV. Going forward, BT TV will be hosted at thePlatform's European data center. To date, BT has been using mpx to manage its IP-based TV service, which has over 1 million subscribers in the UK.
Cloud-based online video publishing company thePlatform has partnered with Verizon Digital Media Services to help drive multi-screen video delivery for pay-TV operators and content providers. Under the deal, VDMS services have been integrated with thePlatform's mpx video management system, forming a solution that will be jointly sold. The primary benefit is streamlined online video workflow which can be managed from a unified console.
Key to the integration is Verizon's single-format video acquisition and distribution capability, which is primarily attributable to VDMS's acquisition of upLynk last November. upLynk enables content to be encoded one time, with the resulting adaptive stream working across all devices, thereby reducing complexity. upLynk complements the EdgeCast content delivery network which Verizon also acquired late last year.
Two key infrastructure players in the digital video ecosystem, thePlatform and Adobe, are announcing a strategic partnership to help accelerate major media and pay-TV operators' plans for multiscreen video delivery. The companies have integrated Adobe Primetime and thePlatform's mpx video management system to form a complete solution, which the companies will jointly sell.
In a briefing, Ian Blaine, CEO of thePlatform and Ashley Still, director or product management at Adobe, told me that the companies have been collaborating for some time, most recently on NBC Olympics' multiscreen delivery of the 2014 Winter Olympics. The new integrated solution is meant to productize these prior collaborations and provide customers with faster time to market, better viewer engagement and lower total cost of ownership.
Online video platform provider thePlatform announced today that it is powering all of the on-demand video for NBC Olympics across desktops, tablets and smartphones. NBC Olympics uses thePlatform's mpx to upload video, manage metadata, create viewing and ad policies, publish video to its main NBCOlympics.com site, "Live Extra" mobile app and syndication to 3rd parties. NBC Olympics' teams are also using mpx's web-based console to manage their video library.
In the session "Is TV Everywhere Finally Breaking Through?" at the recent VideoSchmooze, industry executives discussed an important long-term objective for the pay-TV industry: turning TV Everywhere into TV, Everywhere. The insertion of that little comma would convert a key industry initiative into a practical, compelling and ubiquitous consumer experience.
For device-happy consumers, what's not to love about the idea of being able to watch all kinds of TV programming (sports, news entertainment, etc.) in any format (live, linear or on-demand), inside or outside their homes whenever they want?
But getting to that eventual goal involves resolving a lot of sticky business and technical challenges. In the wide-ranging panel discussion, our participants Michael Bishara (Synacor), John Harran (Turner), Marty Roberts (thePlatform), John Woods (Mediacom) and Colin Dixon (nScreenMedia and moderator) did a great job of sorting through all of the issues and articulating the opportunities.
For anyone interested in TV Everywhere, it's a highly informative 47 minutes. The video is below.
Here's a great example of how robust the cloud has now become: thePlatform, a leading online video publishing company, is announcing a new "Virtual TV Framework" today, that allows pay-TV operators to deliver their FULL linear and on-demand services via the cloud, to any connected/mobile device. Until now, pay-TV operators have mostly offered only VOD or a limited set of linear channels as part of their TV Everywhere initiatives. Now the new Virtual TV Framework will allow them to replicate ALL of their services for cloud-based delivery.
Why does this matter? Because cloud-delivery makes it easier for pay-TV operators to enhance their subscribers' experience with existing services and to develop new ones, while also reducing delivery costs. It's no secret that the landscape for video services has become much more competitive with the advent of innovative OTT options from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and others, so consumers are expecting more from their pay-TV operators. As well, given the high price of pay-TV service, delivering more value has become a key industry priority - this is the essential role of TV Everywhere.
I'm pleased to present the 180th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. There was a rush of interest around live streaming this week. Among the news items: ABC,TNT and TBS announced live streaming of their linear feeds; YouTube expanded its live feature and Brightcove launched a new live module, which followed thePlatform doing the same last week.
For live streaming TV, neither Colin nor I believe it will have broad appeal, with the possible exception of sports and maybe certain breaking news/events. It's no secret that on-demand, time-shifted viewing has surged in popularity, due to DVR penetration above 50% of U.S. homes and the widespread availability of TV programs online for on-demand use. So in a way live streaming TV is trying to put the genie back in the bottle - getting on-demand viewers to go back to linear.
The fundamental inconsistency to me in this is that if you're tech-savvy enough to be drawn to live streaming on an iOS device, you're even more likely to now be a mainly on-demand viewer. And for those not tech-savvy, who still do enjoy linear viewing, well, why do you need an live streaming app when you can just watch on your TV as you always have? Even the sports use case is a bit thin as watching out-of-home for most will be very expensive given mobile data rates, and most mobile device viewing happens in the home anyway.
Nonetheless, Colin and I describe all the reasons we think other TV networks are likely to roll out live streaming in the coming months as well. Maybe we're missing something, but it strikes us that these will have more to do with PR (countering Aereo for example) and supporting TV Everywhere/retransmission consent negotiations and won't end up resonating broadly with users. More interesting I think is the CW's move to make its shows available free next day on-demand via Apple TV and other devices which seems in synch with users' expectations.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (17 minutes, 17 seconds)
Live streaming is continuing to get a lot of mind share these days from both content providers and technology companies. The latest example in the latter category is Brightcove, which yesterday introduced in beta the Brightcove Video Cloud Live, a module to support live streaming across multiple devices.
A key part of Video Cloud Live is the recently announced Brightcove Zencoder Live Transcoding service, which provides live transcoding as a scalable API. This obviates the need for content providers to purchase and maintain their own hardware for encoding live events. This in turn reduces cost and complexity of running live events, making them far more feasible to offer to viewers. The Zencoder service also produces multiple adaptive bitrate streams so that users on various devices get the right stream for them.
Traditionally most online video has been on-demand, but recently that has begun to change with more live events delivered online all the time. The trend has been driven primarily by sports, news and music, but other categories like entertainment are also following along.
For content providers, live presents numerous new workflow complexities vs. on-demand in areas such as encoding, ad insertion, stream management, metadata, device support, etc. To address this complexity and try to streamline workflows, thePlatform is today introducing a single web-based console in its mpx platform that can handle key tasks including signal acquisition and encoding via an integration with Elemental (so encoding can be managed within the console), dynamic ad insertion and metadata creation plus archiving to VOD for replays.
It wasn't that long ago when the back-end delivery systems for traditional pay-TV services and those for over-the-top video services were quite distinct. Ditto for the in-home set-top devices that viewers use to receive these disparate video services. But as pay-TV operators continue to standardize on IP, the cloud becomes ever more pervasive and devices more powerful, those distinctions are melting away.
The latest example comes this morning from the UK, where thePlatform, a U.S.-based Comcast subsidiary, has announced that its mpx video management system is now powering key elements of BT's actual TV services, BT Vision and YouView from BT. According to thePlatform, mpx is supporting BT's video workflow, coordinating playback data with recommendations engines and enforcing video rights for subscribers. mpx has been integrated with BT's existing systems for content delivery, set-top boxes and user experience.
A recurring theme in the video industry this year has been the proliferation of video-enabled devices and fragmentation of viewing. This has resulted in vastly increased complexity for content providers to prepare and deliver the properly formatted video efficiently and cost-effectively to all these devices. Recognizing this escalating challenge, online video platform provider thePlatform is announcing new "Smart Workflow" features in its mpx video publishing system this morning, to accelerate the formatting and delivery of video to multiple devices.
thePlatform is introducing new commerce capabilities as part of its mpx video management platform today. Marty Roberts, thePlatform's SVP, Sales and Marketing, told me last week that as online video continues to mature, customers are looking to monetize content through every release window, so transactions have gained importance.
thePlatform's commerce capability allows service providers and content owners to create business rules for pay-per-use, download-to-own, season passes, movie bundles and other special promotions in addition to ad-supported and subscription models. Marty noted that the new commerce system enables complimentary monetization to electronic sell-through already available for certain titles via iTunes, Amazon and other third-parties.
Online video platform (OVP) provider thePlatform, which has primarily served larger-size media companies and distributors to date, is looking to broaden its market appeal by launching "mpx Essentials," targeted to small-to-medium size businesses (SMB) and agencies. As Tim Sale, program leader for mpx Essentials explained to me, the move is a bet that all organizations will need to have a video presence in the future, just as they've all come to need a web presence.
Tim said thePlatform has been receiving inbound calls from prospective SMB customers for a while, but hasn't had an appropriately priced or featured service to offer them. As a result, it's been in the position of often referring callers to competitors like Brightcove, Kaltura, Ooyala and others. Recognizing that SMBs pursuing video need more than what a getting-started platform like YouTube offers, yet not all of the features that big media companies need, thePlatform decided to launch mpx Essentials.
TV Everywhere is a major trend in the pay-TV industry these days and thePlatform, a large online video platform, has been in the middle of a lot of the activity.
At the NABShow, Marty Roberts, thePlatform's SVP of Sales and Marketing stopped by the VideoNuze booth and explained how consumer expectations are helping drive pay-TV innovation with TV Everywhere, enabling anytime/anywhere/any device access. Marty also addresses other key trends he's seeing in the industry. See video below (6 minutes, 14 seconds).
Categories: TV Everywhere