Video services

Cable Guys Buck Up for BNI Video

Startup BNI Video has emerged with more than $16 million in funding and the promise of a super video back-office aimed at helping MSOs play in Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX)'s sandbox by piping services to Blu-ray players, gaming consoles, and other IP-connected devices.

And the Boxborough, Mass.-based company, which features a lineup of several former Broadbus Technologies execs, is starting off with plenty of cable backing, counting Comcast Interactive Capital and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) among its financiers. CIC senior managing director Louis Toth and TWC chief technology officer Mike LaJoie also have BNI Video board seats. (See Comcast, TWC Invest in BNI Video .)

Founded in 2009, BNI Video offers a next-generation video control plane, or back-office, that can manage cable's emerging use of content delivery networks (CDNs) that will support hundreds of thousands of titles targeted at the growing multitude of set-tops and mobile devices. (See Cable Thinking Big With Video-Focused CDNs .)

"Five years from now we'll fundamentally have a video Internet that also has some data and voice on it. It's that big a transition," says BNI Video CEO Conrad Clemson, a former senior VP for technical operations at Broadbus, a server vendor that Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) snapped up in 2006. (See Motorola Scoops Up Broadbus.)

Taking things a step further, the company believes its back-office architecture will help cable accelerate app development and go beyond the grid box that's typically used to navigate video content. Clemson says cable's been notoriously slow in this area, in large part because cable video infrastructure is riddled with more than 150 systems that use their own islands of software that must be managed, monitored, and upgraded separately. "That can create up to 21 days of downtime in their network. Our view is that has to be fixed," he says.

Likewise, BNI Video intends to help MSOs create clients that can link their video services to a wide range of broadband-connected consumer electronics devices -- such as Blu-ray players, TVs, and Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii gaming consoles -- that have become the domain of Netflix, Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), and other over-the-top threats.

BNI Video thinks it can do all of this with a modular back-office that features a policy and control engine that handles session management and resource management and is designed to work with cable's traditional QAM-based video sources as well as IP. The back-office couples to a content router with open interfaces that let operators deploy servers and streamers of their choosing.

Another piece of the puzzle is a CDN manager that would let operators wholesale their own CDNs to other operators, putting them in competition with the likes of Akamai Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: AKAM) and Limelight Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: LLNW), or expand their content by tapping into CDNs from outside parties.

BNI Video's approach and market focus puts it in direct competition with SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), and Concurrent Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: CCUR) -- video back-office vendors that have developed or are in the process of developing their own cross-platform, TV Everywhere-esque product strategies. Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Mediaroom can be lumped into this group, too.

Funding and deployments
BNI Video closed its $6.8 million A round, led by Comcast Interactive Ventures, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Charles River Ventures , last June. Time Warner Cable and Castile Ventures co-led the $10 million B round, which wrapped up in August.

By Clemson's estimation, that should be enough. "We are not raising any more money. We can do it on $17 million," he says.

Clemson says BNI Video will have "meaningful revenue next year," adding that the company is undergoing lab testing with several video service providers, and already has some money coming in the door thanks to a live deployment with one customer.

He declined to name the source of that revenue, but one possibility is Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), which has lit up a CDN in its Freedom Region (Philadelphia and parts of New Jersey), with its Washington, D.C., system on deck. (See Comcast's 'Project Infinity' Takes Flight .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:21:09 PM
re: Cable Guys Buck Up for BNI Video

Well, that's true... extensions and upgrades are typically easier than full-own switchouts if the capabilities offered by each path traveled end up being equal , but Comcast and TWC aren't investing in these guys for giggles. JB

ycurrent 12/5/2012 | 4:21:09 PM
re: Cable Guys Buck Up for BNI Video

Elegant platform, no doubt.  But the industry focus is increasingly on TCO, with vendors consolidating more technology unto single platforms... will be a difficult competitive path for BNI to navigate with a proposition that its purpose-built platform is better than rival extensions of existing ones to address the same challenges.

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