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Video services

Avail-TVN Bankrolls $30M TV Everywhere Play

Avail-TVN is putting its money where it thinks its business is going, earmarking $30 million for a cross-platform infrastructure and services play that will result in a cloud-based “super” video headend that will support upwards of five petabytes of storage. (See Avail-TVN Bucks Up for TV Everywhere .)

The two-year project, targeted to the more than 300 content and service providers on Avail-TVN’s customer roster, aims to create a one-stop shop for the preparation, aggregation, and ingest of video for TVs, PCs, smartphones, iPads, and other mobile screens.

Privately held Avail-TVN isn’t in the fiber business (it will lease access from yet-to-be-named partners), but it will take on the looks of a video-optimized content distribution network (CDN) by branching into partner networks that feed content from its primary Super Head End (SHE) in Burbank, Calif., to caching sites located at edge locations. Avail-TVN plans to complement this with its existing satellite-based distribution network, which leases capacity from Intelsat Ltd. and Telesat.

The intention, says Avail-TVN CEO Ramu Potarazu, is to develop a hybrid platform that can deliver both its linear networks and on-demand content, and set the stage for its push into more advanced services, such as 3DTV. (See Avail-TVN: All 3D, All the Time.)

That Avail-TVN is going after the budding TV Everywhere (TVE) market isn’t a huge surprise. It’s been hinting at it for months. Today’s announcement, however, puts some flesh on those TVE bones. (See Avail-TVN Readies 'TV Everywhere' Platform.)

Potarazu says the investment and resulting service and infrastructure will help its partners compete with over-the-top competitors such as Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX).

Today, Avail-TVN delivers 300 standard-def channels, over 60 HD channels (using MPEG-4), and more than 10,000 hours of VoD content. The move to 5 petabytes of storage will increase its storage capacity by 30 times, but there’s room to add more when needed, Potarazu says.

That strategy may sound familiar. Among MSOs, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is developing a CDN of its own, central to its “Project Infinity” initiative that’s stitched to the operator’s backbone. Initially, that CDN will serve set-top boxes, but will eventually have the ability to support mobile devices. Avail-TVN, however, hopes to differentiate by putting all components of the video distribution chain under one roof. (See Comcast's 'Project Infinity' Takes Flight and Cable Thinking Big With Video-Focused CDNs .)

Avail-TVN also expects to support multi-screen with Web-fed adaptive streaming technologies that can smoothly deliver video in various encoding formats as bandwidth levels fluctuate. Avail-TVN is getting that piece of the puzzle together while working out deals that will give the company rights for TVE distribution, Potarazu says. (See Cable Adapting to Video's Streaming Future.)

He says the SHE was built during the first six months of the year, and is ready for trials and an initial wave of service deployments, starting with out-of-market sports packages and local and customized pay-per-view offerings. It will follow in the first half of 2011 with the multiplatform service.

“We believe the next-gen platform is open for business now,” Potarazu adds. “It’s really an expansion of what we’ve been doing.

As the longer-term strategy goes, Avail-TVN believes the strategy and investment will help develop an international business, as well, with Chile, Mexico, and Canada among the initial targets.

Avail-TVN is coupling its investment in technology with people to support it. CFO Bill Arendt says the company has already expanded its staff by 30 percent this year.

Avail-TVN, the result of the merger of Avail Media and TVN Entertainment Corp. in 2009, isn’t announcing its storage partners, but it already has partnerships with several VoD pump makers, including Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC), Concurrent Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: CCUR), and Espial Group Inc. (See TVN, Avail Media Merge.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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