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Avail-TVN Readies 'TV Everywhere' Platform

Longtime cable video partner Avail-TVN says it will soon kick off some trials with major cable networks to test a platform for TV Everywhere-esque online video distribution.

The company, which focuses primarily on distributing pay-per-view and video-on-demand (VoD) content to cable operators and telcos nationwide, says it is also talking to carriers about building a storage solution that could enable distribution to TVs, PCs, and mobile phones.

"We're involved in several trials that we have not announced. We hope to be able to talk about those as soon as March," said Avail-TVN executive vice president Jim Riley. "Suffice to say, since we're the content distribution partner for all of the major network brands, it's a natural extension of what we're doing in terms of moving and managing files to support the broadband [TV Everywhere] component."

With Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), and other MSOs rolling out TV Everywhere products, Avail-TVN and other vendors are lining up for a crack at providing services like storage, content delivery, and authenticating which subscribers should get access to programs from their cable subscriptions. (See Comcast to Expand 'Xfinity' to DSL Subs.)

Several other cable vendors are pitching technology and services for their TV Everywhere platforms, including thePlatform Inc. , which is owned by Comcast; ExtendMedia Inc. ; and Brightcove Inc. (See Brightcove Tunes Up for 'TV Everywhere' Pilots and ThePlatform Encroaches on Brightcove's Turf .)

While major distributors like Comcast and Time Warner Cable are managing their TV Everywhere products in-house, Riley said some smaller operators are looking to Avail-TVN to power their TV Everywhere products. But he said Avail-TVN would also provide a piece in the TV Everywhere distribution puzzle for some larger MSOs.

Cable operators and networks are pursuing two strategies for TV Everywhere distribution. Comcast has a centralized approach, offering content from dozens of networks through its Fancast Xfinity TV site, while individual networks are also looking to provide access to content on their own sites to subscribers that they can authenticate. Riley says Avail-TVN will be involved in both distribution models. (See Comcast to Expand 'Xfinity' to DSL Subs and Comcast Web TV Beta Goes Wide)

"We're exploring opportunities to work with MSOs and telcos to support a massive storage solution that is cross platform," Riley said, adding that Avail-TVN would distribute high-resolution files across multiple platforms and in multiple formats, including MPEG-4 and smaller files that could be delivered via the Web and mobile platforms.

Distributing pay-per-view and VoD content remains Avail-TVN's core business, but Riley believes TV Everywhere distribution will become an increasingly important part of its business.

"In the future we absolutely see the multiplatform category as one in which we can play an important role, and both our content providers and distribution partners have asked us to step in to support that," Riley said. "We're cautiously optimistic that we will play an important role in that multiplatform environment as we move forward."

TVN Entertainment and Avail Media Inc. merged last year. TVN's historic cable MSO partners include Comcast, Charter Communications Inc. , Cox Communications Inc. , Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), and Mediacom Communications Corp. . (See TVN Gets the Urge to Merge .)

Of more recent note, Avail-TVN won a deal to help support EPIX, a new premium channel that will deliver movies and shows using a hybrid TV/broadband distribution model. (See Avail-TVN Adds EPIX to VoD Roster.)

— Steve Donohue, Special to Cable Digital News

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