Light Reading

Cisco to Buy BNI Video for $99M

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is poised to challenge SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC) and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) in the video backoffice market after striking a US$99 million deal to acquire BNI Video , a startup that counts Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) among its financial backers.

Cisco said it intends to integrate BNI's backoffice and content delivery network (CDN) analytic capabilities into Videoscape, an IP-focused TV Everywhere platform that Cisco is developing for cable MSOs and other service providers. BNI's employees would join the Service Provider Video Technology Group. The deal is expected to close before February.

Founded in 2009, BNI Video has not announced any customers, but Comcast Interactive Capital and TW Cable helped lead a $16 million B round in the startup last year. Cisco participated in BNI Video's $6.8 million A round. BNI Video CEO Conrad Clemson, a former Broadbus Technologies exec, told Light Reading Cable in the fall of 2010 that the company expected to pull in "meaningful revenue" in 2011.

BNI Video's claim to fame is a video control plane that can manage cable's use of CDNs and to help them deliver video to connected consumer electronic devices including Blu-ray players, smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles. BNI Video's Evolution Video Control Plane, by the way, is a 2011 Leading Lights finalist in the Best New Product (Cable) category.

Why this matters
A next-gen video backoffice for multi-screen delivery has been missing from Videoscape. Although Cisco insists that Videoscape will play nice with others, the addition of BNI Video would let Cisco take more control of the ecosystem it's pitching to MSOs. (See CES 2011: Cisco Wants Videoscape to Play Nice.)

SeaChange and Ericsson are the incumbents here, having developed new backoffice systems with TV Everywhere components. Competition would heat up considerably if they had to deal with Cisco rather than little ol' BNI Video. (See SeaChange Gives Liberty Shot of Adrenalin and SeaChange Gives VoD a Shot of 'Adrenalin' .)

For more
Read more about BNI Video and Videoscape.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:50:54 PM
re: Cisco to Buy BNI Video for $99M

Comcast and TWC are BNI investors, so it wouldn't be a huge reach that they will deploy or have already started to deploy BNI's backoffice. But it's interesting in that Comcast has historically been linked to SeaChange's backoffice  as TWC has been to Ericsson's (going way to the product's days under the N2 Broadband and Tandberg Television umbrellas).  If you want to read between the lines, here are the statements from Comcast and TWC in today's Cisco announcement:

"As a founding investor in BNI Video, Comcast Ventures recognized the potential for this technology to play a critical role in advancing video experiences for Comcast's customers," said Tony Werner, chief technology officer, Comcast.  "With the combined expertise in IP video systems, Cisco and BNI Video offer service providers a compelling software and infrastructure platform to efficiently deliver video content to multiple devices."

"Time Warner Cable invested early in BNI Video, as it brought a unique software platform to market that addresses the back-office complexities of delivering TV Everywhere services," said Mike LaJoie, chief technology officer, Time Warner Cable. "Combining forces with Cisco presents an opportunity to take video service providers to the next level with Internet video, helping to manage networks more efficiently to deliver advanced TV entertainment experiences to consumers."


Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:50:51 PM
re: Cisco to Buy BNI Video for $99M

... if Cisco looked at SeaChange too before it pulled the trigger on BNI Video. Rumors that SeaChange is ripe for an acquisition have been going on for a long time now and the latest rumor we hear is that an equity fund, and perhaps several, have been taking a look (Arris may be out of it since it picked up BigBand).

Anyway, Kip Compton didn't mention any other companies by name, but did tell me Cisco had been looking into this video backoffice market for quite a while but was reluctant to make any investments unless the target had an attractive IP video strategy. "With BNI, we believe their architecture does," he said.

For what it's worth, that does seem to suggest  that Cisco at least did do some poking around elsewhere before doing this deal. And MANY people are telling me SEAC is hot and heavy to get bought... though I did hear a suggestion recently that going private may also be on the table of options.  Just sayin'  JB


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