August 4, 2011
Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has standardized on video-on-demand (VoD) servers from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Motorola Mobility LLC and is removing gear from SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC) because it's not well suited for the MSO's new video-optimized content delivery network (CDN), an industry source source verifies.
Multichannel News reported Thursday that Comcast had pulled SeaChange servers, with Cisco becoming the operator's primary VoD server supplier.
The new direction, a source says, is the result of a Comcast request for proposal (RFP) issued more than two years ago, and that Comcast had made the decision late last year to move forward only with Cisco and Motorola, with Cisco getting the majority of that business.
Cisco's supplying its Content Delivery Engine (CDE) products that evolved from its acquisition of Arroyo Video Solutions in 2006. Motorola, meanwhile, is supplying gear that came way of its purchase of BitBand in 2009. Moto also sells servers that came way of its 2006 acquisition of Broadbus. (See Comcast's 'Project Infinity' Takes Flight , B&L, Imation Partner, Moto to Buy BitBand and Motorola Scoops Up Broadbus.)
A source said SeaChange lost out because its edge servers didn't perform well with Comcast's CDN, which is currently being used to deliver about 30,000 on-demand "choices" to traditional digital set-tops in most of the MSO's footprint. The problem was that SeaChange's edge gear did fine in the older VoD architecture, but ran into trouble when required to access and ingest content from origin servers that resided deeper on the CDN. Cisco's and Moto's proved to be much more CDN-friendly.
Comcast's back-office RFP
SeaChange, which has been de-emphasizing its hardware business, remains Comcast's standardized VoD back-office supplier. However, its standing there is apparently in some danger, as well, because the MSO issued an RFP for a next-gen back-office a month or two ago, according to a person familiar with Comcast's VoD product plans. (See SeaChange Softens Up, Cuts Staff.)
SeaChange's new Adrenalin back-office, which is optimized for TV Everywhere applications, is an obvious candidate for that business, but the RFP could also open the door to BNI Video , a startup that's made up of several former Broadbus execs. (See Cable Guys Buck Up for BNI Video and SeaChange Gives VoD a Shot of 'Adrenalin' .)
Comcast was not immediately available for comment about its VoD product plans. SeaChange issued this statement: "While SeaChange doesn't comment on speculation about business agreements with its customers, it continues to have a very strong relationship with Comcast, particularly for software and the associated hardware."
Word of the server switch at Comcast comes amid rumors that Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) is making a play for SeaChange. A person familiar with the talks says there are "strong indications" that the deal will indeed happen. (See Arris Sets Sights on SeaChange .)
Given SeaChange's shift of focus on video hardware, Arris's long-term interest is likely being piqued by SeaChange's advanced advertising products, its VoD back-office system and Nitro, a cloud-based user interface system for set-tops, tablets, smartphones and other types of video devices. (See SeaChange Debuts Nitro Software.)
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable
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