Develops turnkey system aimed at programmers
By Glen Dickson — Broadcasting & Cable, 1/25/2010 12:01:00 AM
Online video specialist Brightcove, whose technology is already used by some 60 TV programmers for their Websites, has developed a new system to help cable programmers launch "TV Everywhere" on-demand video services, either through their own portals or working in partnership with cable or telco operators. Consistent with the "TV Everywhere" concept espoused by Time Warner and being tested by Comcast in its "On Demand Online" trial, the Brightcove system includes authentication technology to ensure that online viewers are already paying for the content through their pay-TV subscriptions.
The new "Brightcove TV Everywhere Solution Pack" combines the enterprise edition of the Brightcove 4 video platform with a number of new features aimed at bringing more licensed and subscriber-entitled video content online. Most important is authentication technology from Internet identity security firm Ping Identity, with which Brightcove has formed a strategic alliance. Brightcove will integrate Ping Identity’s PingFederate software into its "TV Everywhere" system to give programmers an authentication and authorization option built on existing open standards.
Users visiting a programmer’s Website would be prompted to enter a credential provided by their pay-TV operator. That information would then be sent from the operator to the Brightcove system, which would authenticate that the user could see the requested content and allow the video to begin streaming.
"The TV Everywhere initiative is exciting because it is defining how video content, once locked to our televisions, will be securely accessible from everywhere," said Andre Durand, Ping Identity chairman and CEO, in a statement. "We are pleased to partner with Brightcove on a solution that we believe will not only revolutionize the way that viewers access television programming, but will also establish new standards for securing access to that content through identity on the Internet."
Brightcove is not the only company pursuing this market. The Platform, the Comcast subsidiary that is Brighcove’s biggest competitor in providing online video technology to programmers, launched its own "TV Everywhere" system in November. The Platform is also providing the back-end technology for the Comcast On Demand Online trial.
While the first big "TV Everywhere" trial in the U.S. is being driven by an operator, Brightcove Chairman and CEO Jeremy Allaire expects that programmers will follow suit by launching their own on-demand portals later this year. So Brightcove has been working for the past few months on a TV Everywhere system to meet that need. It has also promoted Brightcove veteran Eric Elia, a former @ Home and Comcast executive, to VP of TV solutions, where he will lead the team responsible for customizing and deploying the TV Everywhere system to existing Brightcove customers.
Allaire predicts programmers will launch authenticated on-demand services through several forms of distribution, and might have "10 different deals" with multichannel operators to provide TV Everywhere services.
"The deals being cut vary greatly from one MPVD [multi-program video distributor] to the next," he says. "The use cases vary, and there are different branding scenarios."
That said, Allaire see three common models developing. In one, the operator doesn’t have a "TV Everywhere" portal itself, but still wants to ensure that subscribers visiting a programmers’ portal are already paying for the content on their TV, through authentication. The second model is that an operator is running a portal, but needs to get feeds of online content from programmers. The operator would then package the content and put in its own user experience. The third likely model is where the operator’s portal is actually a series of embedded video players from the various programmers themselves, which could run off the Brightcove infrastructure.
"We support all three scenarios, and can manage the metadata behind them," says Allaire.
While "connected TVs" that can accept broadband video were widely demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, Allaire doesn’t expect that "TV Everywhere"-type content will make its way to those sets anytime soon. There are some technical challenges, such as getting those sets to support authentication, and also some business impediments as cable operators are looking to use "TV Everywhere" as a way to stave off competition from new "over-the-top" video services. But Allaire thinks eventually TV Everywhere will make its way to connected TVs, too, but not until late 2011 or 2012.
"Right now, they want to take advantage of it to build their online brand," says Allaire of programmers and operators. "Once they’ve ironed out the business policies, and they’ve got a consistent, standardized technical approach, then you’ll see the industry move onto the next phase of how to take it beyond the PC. Right now, that is not a focus at all."
One of the interesting wrinkles to providing "TV Everywhere" on a mass scale is who winds up covering the bulk of the costs of delivering the video-the operator or the programmer. In that vein, the Brightcove system will support real-time "CDN switching," where depending on business arrangements and which Website a viewer uses, the system could seamlessly switch from a content delivery network (CDN) the operator is paying for to one being supplied by the programmer.
"That’s really built into the deals, to reflect who carries the costs," says Allaire.