Clearleap Aims to Make Web Video a Commodity

Clearleap has shed more light on a plan that aims to help cable, IPTV, and satellite TV service providers rapidly deliver Internet video to more traditional set-tops that can't speak a lick of Internet Protocol (IP).

Clearleap, an Atlanta-based startup that's been kind of quiet in the past -- see our earlier profile -- has unveiled its first two products: clear|flow and clear|profit. Both aim to help operators compete with the explosive growth of online|video. (See Clearleap Bridges Web TV Gap.)

At a high level, clear|flow is a video system that's designed to shrink the video-on-demand (VoD) and linear publishing cycle from months to minutes. The idea is to help Web TV sites and other suppliers of "professional content libraries" optimize their titles for TV, with all the associated metadata, and at the right resolution.

In turn, operators can use clear|flow to deliver broadband video to customers by transforming that content in VoD streams that can be read and displayed by non-IP set-tops. Clear|profit, meanwhile, is a "drag-and-drop" ad-insertion system that uses Web interfaces.

Clearleap "wants to take away the pain and challenges of bringing new content into the TV environment," says Clearleap CEO Braxton Jarratt, formerly of Tandberg Television , N2 Broadband (purchased by Tandberg in February 2005), and Cox Communications Inc. "Our mission is to focus on the technology and infrastructure to really help and scale this next generation of television that everyone sees coming."

In terms of that infrastructure, Clearleap is hosting third-party content at data centers located in New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta that are capable of peering with operators as well as the content suppliers. The cable operator, meanwhile, must install a small "catcher" at the headend that integrates with its own legacy VoD and broadcast video system.

Clearleap is initially targeting smaller operators, and has already scored deployments with a "handful" of still unnamed cable and IPTV service providers, Jarratt says. "We're absolutely engaged with the big guys, too," he adds.

Clearleap is also working directly with networks, studios, and other content owners that have cleared rights for TV distribution. The company expects to announce some of those deals later this year, likely at The Cable Show.

In addition to feeding in video from the Web, Clearleap's initial set of service provider customers are using Clearleap to ingest local content and place it on their VoD or broadcast systems. More than half of those have also signed up to use the clear|profit module, which is in the process of being "mapped" to cable's own advanced advertising standard, SCTE-130.

Clearleap's most obvious competitors will come from the advanced advertising sector, and could include the likes of BlackArrow Inc. , Invidi Technologies Corp. , and OpenTV Corp. (Nasdaq: OPTV). Other potential competitors include ActiveVideo and thePlatform Inc. , a media publishing firm owned by Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), and content distribution networks (CDNs) such as Akamai Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: AKAM) and Limelight Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: LLNW).

Jarratt believes Clearleap will stand out because "we focus exclusively on the TV experience," rather than worrying about mobile video plays or the Web-to-PC environment.

Clearleap has cleared $12.3 million in funding so far, thanks to a $9 million "A" round in last March led by Trinity Ventures and Noro-Moseley Partners, plus an additional $3.3 million in venture debt financing from Silicon Valley Bank . (See Clearleap Hops on $9M 'A' Round and Clearleap Gets Financing.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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