Brightcove reported a solid Q2 '12, its second quarter as a publicly-traded company, with revenues rising 41% year-over-year to $21.6 million and its loss from operations narrowing to $3.9 million vs. $5.1 million in Q2 '11. Brightcove said it now has 4,697 customers of its Video Cloud and App Cloud platforms. For video specifically, during the quarter, Brightcove added 365 "Express" customers (which are $499/month and below) and 78 "Premium" customers, which run into the thousands of dollars/month.
Brightcove also announced its acquisition of Zencoder, a cloud video encoding service that counts 1,000 paying customers, for approximately $30 million. Brightcove views Zencoder as a product augment for its Video Cloud platform and also sees the company's Video.js free HTML video player as a lead generation driver for its Express services.
Eric Elia, Brightcove's VP, TV Solutions came by the VideoNuze booth at the recent NABShow and explained what he sees as the "third phase of TV transformation." Eric believes companies like Amazon, Netflix, Apple and others are helping make it "OK to put a dollar euro sign in front of content." Brightcove has seen a huge surge of interest from aggregators and content providers in providing paid services.
Eric also shares insight about how cable TV networks are beginning to embrace content distribution via apps, a big change from just a year ago. Eric cites the catalyst for this as the launch of apps from Comcast and Time Warner Cable, which have signaled to networks that it's acceptable to distribute this way, as long as the billing relationship, via authentication, remains intact.
At the NABShow, Brightcove announced its "paywall solution framework" and support for Google's Widevine DRM. Sample applications for connected TVs. See video below (13 minutes, 35 seconds)
Brightcove is powering NBCU's recently-launched Emmy screener app for the iPad dubbed "NBCU Screen It" with its App Cloud and Video Cloud platforms. The app allows 15,000 members of the Television Academy who vote on the Emmy awards to gain authenticated access to view NBC's programs.
Categories: Deals & Financings
As the biggest annual mobile conference - the Mobile World Congress - gets underway today in Barcelona, new initiatives from some of the biggest names in technology underscore the growing importance of smartphones and of mobile video specifically. Among the most important headlines:
- Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer is unveiling Windows Phone 7 which includes Xbox LIVE games, Zune video and audio, plus enhanced sharing. With Phone 7 Microsoft is continuing to vie for position in a crowded smartphone operating system landscape.
- Sony Ericsson is launching "Creations" allowing users to create and publish video, audio and images from their mobile phones in collaboration with professional developers.
- AT&T and 11 other mobile service providers, which together have about 2 billion subscribers, are introducing a new applications store designed to appeal to developers and compete head-on with Apple's App Store.
- Symbian is taking the wraps off its new Symbian 3 open source release, which includes support for HDMI, so that users can connect their Symbian phones to their TVs and watch 1080p video, in effect creating a Blu-ray player in your pocket.
- Intel and Nokia are merging their respective Moblin and Maemo software platforms to create MeeGo, a unified Linux platform to run across multiple devices.
- Adobe is providing an update that by mid-2010, its AIR runtime for building rich applications will be available for Android and that Flash 10.1 will be generally available for various mobile platforms, including Android. In addition, Adobe is announcing that Omniture, which Adobe recently acquired, will add mobile video measurement within its SiteCatalyst product.
While each announcement, plus countless others, have their own significance in the burgeoning mobile ecosystem, the one that's most relevant to mobile video specifically is the coming availability of Flash 10.1, especially for Android. Mobile video has been hampered to date with the lack of Flash player support on iPhones, so its pending launch on Android phones threatens to scramble the relative appeal of these devices for users eager to watch video from sites like Hulu on their smartphones.
Late last week I got a glimpse of how significant Flash on smartphones is from Jeff Whatcott, SVP of Marketing at Brightcove, which today is announcing an optimized version of its platform for Flash 10.1, to be released in the middle of 2010. Adobe has made the beta of Flash 10.1 available to content providers, and Jeff has a video showing how it works with Brightcove for its customers like NYTimes.com and The Weinstein Company.
Brightcove has done 3 things - optimized its template for mobile devices (so navigation and interactivity is seamless on the small screen), enabled auto-detect of mobile devices (so the correct Brightcove template is served) and leveraged cloud-based transcoding (so a mobile-ready H.264 encoded video is streamed). The goal is for Brightcove's customers to be able to deliver an optimized mobile and Flash experience identical to their online experiences, with minimal additional work flow. Brightcove provides the appropriate logic for mobile templates to its customers which they embed in their pages. When a user visits from a mobile device and clicks to watch video, the right Brightcove-powered experience is delivered.
All of the above activity is happening in the shadow of the now-dominant iPhone (and coming release of the iPad) which do not support Flash. As non-iPhone devices - and content providers - progressively incorporate Flash this year, it seems like the smartphone market is poised for another new turn. Flash is the dominant video player and as users look to replicate their online experiences on their smartphones, the void of Flash on iPhones will become even more pronounced. I don't underestimate Steve Jobs or Apple's ability to compete, but this will be one place where it feels like the iPhone will be at a real disadvantage. Apple is keen to prevent Flash from extending its online hegemony to mobile as well, so it will be interesting to see how it chooses to play this.
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This morning Brightcove is making its first TV Everywhere ("TVE") related announcement, introducing its "TV Everywhere Solution Pack" (TVE-SP), which is the Brightcove 4 enterprise edition augmented with new components and services to support TVE rollouts. It is also unveiling a strategic alliance with Ping Identity to integrate its PingFederate security software with TVE-SP, to enable user authentication and authorization. Lastly, Brightcove has promoted Eric Elia from VP of Professional Services to VP of TV Solutions, charged with leading the company's TVE initiatives. Brightcove's CEO and founder Jeremy Allaire briefed me last week.
To understand how TVE-SP fits in, it is important to quickly review the TVE model. To date, most discussion of TVE has focused on multichannel video programming distributors ("MVPDs") providing their subscribers with online access to TV programming through their own portals or services, for no extra charge (e.g. Comcast's Fancast Xfinity TV). Receiving less attention so far is that the programmers who agree to participate in MVPD portals will likely require they are also able to offer their same programs on their own sites, which are an increasingly important part of their brand identity and direct-to-consumer focus.
Something else that hasn't received a lot of attention to date is that not all MVPDs will follow Comcast's model of managing, hosting and delivering the online programs themselves. Rather, some MVPDs will prefer to provide just the barebones online navigation, with TV programmers providing an embeddable video player and also delivering all the programming. Less-resourced MVPDs could end of relying heavily on programmers to power their TVE offerings. Where programmers already have online video platforms such as Brightcove in place, these OVPs are in a position to influence how TVE operates. (As a sidenote, I've heard multiple times that Comcast itself is also offering a white labeled version of its FXTV portal to other MVPDs).
All of this means there's likely to be plenty of heterogeneity in TV Everywhere rollouts. Recognizing this, a key part of Brightcove's product strategy is aligning with Ping to use PingFederate and the SAML 2.0 standard for user authentication and authorization. SMAL is used to exchange data between domains (e.g. between a TV programmer, whose web site visitor is trying to access a certain program and an MVPD which holds that user's subscription profile). This type of secure exchange will be essential for TV programmers to offer their own programs on their own sites in a TVE world.
SAML has been widely used in the SaaS business applications and Ping itself lists Comcast, Cox, Bell Canada and Discovery, among others, as customers. However, I suspect these are likely on the enterprise side, not the consumer-facing side. As a result, Brightcove's approach will require significant testing before it will be deemed acceptable by MVPDs. In fact, Brightcove's new white paper indicates that additional standards are required and that some of this is underway at CableLabs, the cable industry's development lab.
It's also worth noting that thePlatform (owned by Comcast) has 4 of the top 5 U.S. cable operators, plus Rogers in Canada, as customers, and ExtendMedia has the major U.S. telcos, plus Bell Canada, as customers. With Brightcove powering video at 60+ TV programmer websites, there are no doubt some interesting dynamics ahead as these OVPs' customers negotiate their TVE relationships and influence the interoperability of their respective technology providers. For its part, thePlatform, which also supports many content providers' video, introduced last November an "Authentication Adaptor" as part of its media publishing system to smooth the authentication and authorization process for programmers offering TVE shows on their own sites.
Confused yet? This is pretty dense stuff, and illustrates some of the hurdles ahead for TVE's widespread rollout. Meanwhile, lurking over TVE's shoulder are the raft of over-the-top alternatives (e.g. Netflix, Boxee, Apple, Xbox, YouTube, etc.) that are sure to gain additional traction with consumers (as a sidenote, yesterday's Best Buy Sunday circular promoted no fewer than 5 Blu-ray players as Netflix compatible, with each showcasing the Netflix logo).
As the TVE story unfolds, Brightcove is sure to be in the middle of the action given its market presence and technical capabilities. But how it all shakes out remains to be seen.
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(Note - Brightcove, thePlatform and ExtendMedia are VideoNuze sponsors)