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TellyTopia's Cable Pitch: Embrace OTT Video

A small company based in Santa Clara, Calif., thinks MSOs and telco-TV operators can begin to make big changes by embracing "over-the-top" (OTT), Internet-fed video and all but neutralize that emerging threat to their subscription video businesses.

That company, TellyTopia Inc. , has been quietly developing a service called "Moveez" that, it claims, will enable operators of all sizes to offer massive video-on-demand (VoD) libraries filled with more than 100,000 titles.

But rather than requiring those MSOs to build out gigantic video server farms and expensive content distribution networks (CDNs) of their own, TellyTopia is pitching a way for them to plug in to a wide range of existing OTT video sources and push content directly to customers. Once those sources are established, operators can ingest movies requested by subs to their own existing VoD systems, and then reformat them for delivery to set-top boxes.

The heart of TellyTopia's video processing and catching platform lives in the proverbial Internet "cloud" and inside cable operator headends, creating an overarching distribution mechanism that's designed to bring content to cable and IPTV services providers from any conceivable source.

That puts it in direct competition with firms such as ActiveVideo , ZillionTV Corp. , Clearleap , and Related Content Database Inc. (RCDb) . At a higher level, its Moveez concept would likewise put it on a path to cross swords with consumer-focused OTT video specialists such as Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and VUDU Inc. , which was recently purchased by Wal-Mart. (See Clearleap Jumps on First Win, ActiveVideo's Blockbuster , Wal-Mart Shells Out for VUDU, and Nsight Takes ZillionTV on a Test Run .)

Moveez represents the next step in TellyTopia's video service evolution and its underlying "i2TV" platform. It cut its teeth by helping operators deliver local content coupled with advertising avails.

A range of cable, telco, and broadcast TV partners -- including SureWest Communications (Nasdaq: SURW), News-Press & Gazette Company (in St. Joseph, Mo.), Baja Broadband LLC, KAXT-CA (a low-power TV station that serves Santa Clara and San Jose, Calif.), and stations in the Edinboro, Pa., and Denver area -- are already using i2TV to deliver such content to almost 2 million TV sets.

Surewest, for example, is using TellyTopia to power a hyper-local channel that enables customers to load video (for example, from a local high school football game) via a Web interface and push it to the telco's set-top-based interactive program guide and video-on-demand (VoD) system... as long as it doesn't raise any copyright red flags.

"We created the platform so it will work for three-minute video clips or a two-hour movie," says TellyTopia vice president Dr. Ram Srinivasan.

Netflix for cable?
With the local angle figured out, TellyTopia is now turning its attention and technology toward movies and other high-cost, professional content. That, the company contends, will allow cable operators to do what companies like Netflix do now or plan to do -- pull in movies from the Web and push them out for display on TVs and mobile devices.

"As long as they [cable operators] have a guaranteed pipe up to the TV, why should they let over-the-top take the initiative?" offers TellyTopia CEO Kshitij Kumar.

Pushing Movies

If TellyTopia is able to get studios to play ball, it hopes to give MSOs a way to complement their limited VoD services with a much larger array of content that can come in from the Web and be reprocessed for set-top play-out. That approach, the company hopes, will give cable operators some business incentive to work with TellyTopia and install VoD "catchers" outfitted with the company's software.

"Netflix today is not paying the cable TV companies any money," Kumar notes. Cable operators have their own VoD systems in place, but he adds, Moveez will give them the ability to offer a far larger VoD library without fronting the cash required for a gigantic video storage facility.

Kumar says TellyTopia has integrated its system with "almost all" legacy VoD systems. He declined to name them, but some obvious candidates are Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), Concurrent Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: CCUR), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC).

TellyTopia is also expanding its support for Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF), which can be used to offer interactive ads that allow users to request more info about an advertised product. If an operator doesn't offer EBIF, those ads can show up as non-interactive banner overlays that still match up with the content, Kumar says.

It's also working on an EBIF app that lets consumers search for movies based on actor, director, and other info found in the underlying video metadata. A tru2way-based interface is also in development.

EBIF

The trick now is getting studios and MSOs (and their content partners) to deploy these capabilities. Kumar says one unnamed operator is testing Moveez using content from Boulder, Colo.-based adult content firm The Erotic Network (TEN).

Kumar says TellyTopia intends to have more than 100,000 titles in a "few months," when it launches Moveez on a commercial basis.

That number may sound familiar. It's the one that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) reportedly is targeting for its "Project Infinity" initiative, which will rely on a CDN Comcast is currently developing. It's also believed that Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) has a similar project underway. (See Comcast Launches 'Project Infinity'.)

TellyTopia anticipates targeting Moveez to the Tier 2 and Tier 3 MSO and telco service provider market, though it will try to catch on with some major operators, too.

"We are making Baja Broadband have the power of a Comcast. That is the power of this technology," says Srinivasan.

Although TellyTopia has some grand visions, the company itself is fairly small -- about 20 full-time and contract employees. Founded in 2006, it has raised only "angel" funding so far, with Trilithic Inc. among its early investors. Kumar says his company does have revenues coming in the door through its initial set of i2TV deals, but acknowledges that it's been approached by potential suitors.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

canadian 12/5/2012 | 4:40:47 PM
re: TellyTopia's Cable Pitch: Embrace OTT Video

Infinity was supposedly 100,000 videos, not 100,000 movies, correct? Which would make Infinity more of the free VOD that people already watch today, not necessarily premium content like movies.


So, if Moveez is 100,000 movies, it's squarely a Cable TV response to Netflix - which is mostly movies (and some high end TV), unlike Infinity, which is more of the same that exists today.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:40:46 PM
re: TellyTopia's Cable Pitch: Embrace OTT Video Just got word from Kshitij: The 100K he referenced is intended to be mostly movies. But he does note that there are already 100K other non-movie videos in its i2TV service, which will be available to MSOs as wellGǪ so given all that, all-in, he says they should be in the "few hundred thousand titles range pretty soon." JB
Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:40:46 PM
re: TellyTopia's Cable Pitch: Embrace OTT Video The latest target for Infinity has been 100K titles, so a mix of movies, TV shows, etc. I'll have to double check with TellyTopia, but I'd guess that the total they are shooting for will be a mix as well... but probably heavily weighted toward movies. JB
Startup Junkie 12/5/2012 | 4:40:44 PM
re: TellyTopia's Cable Pitch: Embrace OTT Video Sounds like this is like Netflix streaming, but a-la-carte. I've always wondered why I should pay 18 bucks a month and just have all the movies they already have, but be able to choose the one I want to watch, and pay only for that.

Being able to watch it on TV without having to wait for the DVD to go out and come back is great.

No one loves the Cable guys though.

Is Moveez going to be on Comcast?

Or will they keep feeding us the Koolaid of Infinity? Hasn't happened in two years - why not just do something that works already?
vidthinker 12/5/2012 | 4:40:42 PM
re: TellyTopia's Cable Pitch: Embrace OTT Video

I like the term 'suitors'. I can see why there are suitors for this pretty hot stuff! I like the simplicity of it and the power that it brings for cable TV and IPTV guys, big and small. This looks like the real Any content, Anywhere, on Any device platform that can deliver on the promise without the technology headache behind it, for both the MSO and the content partner. A challenge for Netflix finally, if only cable and IPTV guys grab the opportunity. Will they? 

kshitijkumar 12/5/2012 | 4:40:34 PM
re: TellyTopia's Cable Pitch: Embrace OTT Video

Folks, thanks muchly for the show of support - we've had tremendous support from the industry over the last few years, and it's been an amazing ride. Posts like yours keep us motivated.


 


Startup Junkie: Exactly our thoughts - we're enabling CableTV and IPTV to be a "Netflix a-la carte". People have often wondered about when and how Cable and IPTV will go a-la carte, and movies are a prime example - movies are a-la carte today, but hampered by the amount of content that can be stored on a VOD server. TellyTopia has been deploying and trialing systems that will allow any movie to be purchased when you want, and watched on TV or other screens.


 


Browsing this content on TV (with an easier interface than currently available) is a no brainer - but it must be done with standards based technologies so that any STB and any network that supports EBIF/Tru2Way can use our technoloy. Some of our competitors mentioned in the article have proprietary technology to do similar things - not a viable long term option in my mind.


 


TellyTopia's Moveez product, I believe, is the simplest, quickest and most effective way for MSOs/Telcos to gain VOD movie customers today.


 


To answer your question about Comcast, all I can say is that as of today, Moveez is not available on Comcast. But it should soon be available in areas served by some of the nations top MSOs/Telcos.

kshitijkumar 12/5/2012 | 4:40:33 PM
re: TellyTopia's Cable Pitch: Embrace OTT Video

Jeff, that is correct.


 


The i2TV service has been live for over a year now, reaching almost 2M TV sets around the US, and some of the videos can be seen at www.i2TV.tv - professional, semi-professional and UGC content, hyperlocal or popular videos from the web.


 


And all of these videos are available to MSOs and Telcos today.


 


Hyper-local content, news, videos, happenings, etc. have a uniquely compelling interest factor, and Telcos/MSOs understand that well. i2TV gives them that content, in high resolution, formatted for the TV. And this is free content, advertising supported.


 


As we deploy across the US, my goal is to reach the magic figure of 1,000,000 i2TV videos for TV in the next couple of years - all high res, high quality, high interest videos.


 


The Moveez service is primarily for movies and high end content that is available to be purchased - high resolution, high quality movies - selected by you, based on your own preferances, not someone else's.


 


Thanks for a great article!


 


Kshitij

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