Light Reading
Comcast-owned firm adds security features that make online video look more like traditional TV, at least as far as business models go

thePlatform Gives Content Owners More Control

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
8/3/2010
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thePlatform Inc. , the Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)-owned video publishing firm, is trying to make Internet video work more like traditional TV. The company has added some key security and geo-location features that control how, where, and on what device certain content can be viewed.

By adding these new features, thePlatform hopes the extra level of security will encourage content owners to allow more premium video content to be distributed via the Internet.

Additionally, thePlatform is upgrading its publishing system to allow content partners greater control over how content is promoted and how ads behave while viewers are watching video clips. The system can even be used to let the content partners determine whether or not viewers are allowed to skip ads. (See thePlatform Expands Its Platform and Outdoor Channel Boards thePlatform.)

By using technology to strip away a lot of the freedoms and advantages that come from using the Internet to distribute video, thePlatform hopes to improve the chances of making money in this new medium.

Marty Roberts, thePlatform's VP of sales and marketing, says the latest round of updates is designed to help networks and studios "balance the complexities of the business" as they continue to move more and more of their content online to serve complementary, but still evolving, TV Everywhere strategies.

Getting online video right is critical for the mostly geographically locked cable firms like Comcast as well as programmers that want to offer more content via the Web but also must worry about adhering to localized blackouts and other rules that can limit distribution. With Internet distribution of online video, operators like Comcast stand to get some share of the entertainment dollars from consumers who are served by other cable companies or telco IPTV players.

Indeed, the new features are appearing about six months after thePlatform released mpx Beta and started to target a broader segment of the online video publishing industry. Earlier this summer, it also added publishing extensions for more specialized broadband-connected devices such as TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) and Roku Inc. boxes. (See ThePlatform Encroaches on Brightcove's Turf , thePlatform Updates Its Platform, and thePlatform Extends OTT On-Ramps.)

It also helps MSOs and the networks they carry to push the boundaries with thePlatform, while seeing what comes of TV Everywhere. Some programmers are still leery of the budding TV Everywhere business model and are staying on the fence. Still, Roberts says many others are gearing up for it. "You'll see a lot of programmers stepping up" this fall and into early 2011, he predicts. (See Cable Networks Warn of TV Everywhere Failure and Major MSOs on Cusp of TV Everywhere Era .)

In case they don't, having an Internet distribution system with a lot of the hooks of traditional cable TV might be more appealing to content owners.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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