thePlatform Extends OTT On-Ramps

thePlatform Inc. , the Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)-owned white label video publishing firm, is trying to help its programmers break free of the PC and publish content to a new breed of broadband-connected devices from the likes of Boxee , VUDU Inc. , TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO), and Roku Inc.

The vast majority of thePlatform's content customers -- Big Ten Network, CBS College Sports, CNBC, ExerciseTV, Fox Sports Network, and PBS, among others -- already deliver video over the top via the Web to PCs, but they are starting to identify the potential of this new generation of specialized boxes, TVs, and Blu-ray players that can deliver video directly to consumers via high-speed broadband connections.

"Our customers are making decisions now to target these over-the-top boxes or services," says thePlatform VP of sales and marketing Marty Roberts, who's scheduled to speak Thursday in Atlanta at Light Reading's third annual Cable Next-Gen Video Strategies conference.

But actually getting content to these platforms takes some work, since each destination has its own set of publishing requirements.

thePlatform has integrated those requirements into mpx Beta, a recently relaunched and more automated version of its media management system, which the company hopes will help it attack a middle market already dominated by firms such as Brightcove Inc. (See ThePlatform Encroaches on Brightcove's Turf .)

On Wednesday, thePlatform, which has already created a publishing profile for the new Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad, announced support for seven new OTT-centric services and boxes: Boxee, TiVo, Roku, VUDU (now part of the Wal-Mart empire), DivX Inc. (for IP-connected TVs, Blu-ray players, etc.), Free Stream Media Inc.'s upcoming FlingoTV service, and Syabas Technology (maker of the popbox).

Some platforms are on the list because programming partners asked thePlatform to support them, but in other cases, such as VUDU, thePlatform made the investment on its own.

"It's a matter of picking them off as we can," Roberts says. "There's a lot of interest [from programmers] in experimenting with one or more of these boxes."

That should be music to the ears of Boxee, which has been urging networks to make these moves. Boxee, which hopes to sell its broadband-fed box for less than $200 starting later this year, has already expressed that it's "open to any business model." (See Boxee Urges TV Nets to 'Experiment' and Ronen: Boxee Isn't a Cable Killer.)

thePlatform also intends to add similar support for Google TV, a service that Google hopes to have off the ground by this fall. In addition to making sure content looks clean on Google TV, anyone interfacing with it also needs to be sure that content is well indexed by the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) search engine, Roberts points out. (See Google TV Comes Out, the World Tunes In .)

OTT devices represent the latest domain in which thePlatform is looking to publish more content and drive more advertising. Earlier this year, it entered the social networking fray with extensions that help programmers embed video in Facebook , Twitter Inc. , and other services while preserving the underlying ad models. (See thePlatform Goes Social.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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