Video services

Avail-TVN Brings TV Everywhere to Tier 2s

TV Everywhere: It's not just for the major MSOs anymore.

Or at least that's the view of Avail-TVN , which is targeting Tier 2/3 service providers with AnyView, a managed multi-screen video system it launched earlier this month at The Cable Show in Chicago.

Instead of relying on third-party content distribution networks (CDNs), Avail-TVN will tap its hybrid satellite and terrestrial fiber networks, an array of edge caching sites, and adaptive bit rate techniques to stream a mix of live linear TV and on-demand video to PCs, Macs, iPads, iPhones, Roku Inc. boxes, and a number of Android devcies. Bringing AnyView to broadband-connected gaming consoles is on the roadmap.

Avail-TVN, which has earmarked $30 million for its TV Everywhere project, is centralizing everything from its "super" headend in Burbank, Calif. (See Avail-TVN Bankrolls $30M TV Everywhere Play.)

That approach, which will also leverage the broadband networks of its MSO and other service provider partners, will reduce the costs of more traditional third-party CDN set-ups, claims Avail-TVN Chief Marketing Officer Brian Matthews.

Avail-TVN intends to conduct four trials with North American SPs this year, with domestic deployments to follow in 2012. It's getting AnyView off the ground initially with an unnamed operator in the Carribean that plans to start off with 110 linear TV channels. Avail-TVN currently distributes content to 300 service providers, with about 60 million homes passed.

It hasn't determined its AnyView packages for the U.S. market, but the plan is to start with VoD and then phase in linear, Matthews says.

And it's being careful to avoid the programmer-led lawsuits that have targeted Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)'s and Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC)'s linear TV app for the iPad. (See Cablevision, Viacom Fight Over iPad App and TW Cable, Programmers Brace for iPad App Battle.)

Matthews stresses that AnyView will only offer channels for which it has obtained transport approval. It will be up to the MSOs or parties such as the National Cable Television Cooperative Inc. (NCTC) to negotiate the affiliate fees and the rights required to bring programming to iPads and other devices and whether such access will be allowed inside or outside the subscriber's home.

Avail-TVN has also developed its own multi-screen navigation system and user interface, adapting it for an array of screen types. But it's also got a deal in place to use Nitro, SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC)'s new cloud-based front end system. (See SeaChange Navigates TV Everywhere.)

Adapting to TV Everywhere
Another vendor that stands to gain from AnyView is Elemental Technologies Inc. (ETI) , which is handling AnyView's video processing and transcoding as well as the management of the service's live and VoD fare. (See Avail-TVN Picks Elemental Servers.)

Adaptive streaming, which adjusts bit rates and video quality to match the available bandwidth, will be key to AnyView. On the linear side of the equation, Elemental's Live server will start off by creating 12 different bit rates and resolutions for AnyView's supported devices. [Ed. note: And that may be just the start. At the show, Imagine Communications discussed supporting as many as 50 different bit rates for adaptive streaming video services.] (See Cable Adapting to Video's Streaming Future.)

On the high end, Elemental will support 720p at 3.1 Mbit/s, and 320 x 240 resolutions at 450 kbit/s on the low end, says Elemental Chairman and CEO Sam Blackman.

He says Avail-TVN is among the top five largest customers for privately held Elemental, which tangles with rivals such as Inlet Technologies Inc. (now part of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)), Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT) and Envivio Inc. (NASDAQ: ENVI). (See Cisco Paints Inlet Into Its Videoscape .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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