Video services

Comcast Unit Shares Cisco's Video Spotlight

Remember when Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) insisted that it would play nice with others when it comes to Videoscape, and that its new cloud-based platform wouldn't give it license to get its Borg on and take over a service provider's entire TV ecosystem? (See CES 2011: Cisco Wants Videoscape to Play Nice.)

That position is being taken to task in Cisco's first-ever Videoscape deployment. Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS) of Australia has tapped thePlatform Inc. , Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s media publishing unit, to provide the video-management layer for the operator's newly expanded TV Everywhere (TVE) initiative.

Telstra is using thePlatform's "mpx" video management system to help the IP end of its BigPond TV deliver not just video on demand (VoD) to PCs, but linear content, too. In a step beyond that, Telstra is making the combo available to IP set-tops and to broadband-connected TVs from LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) and Samsung Corp. Previously, Telstra had used thePlatform only for its Web-based movie service.

Telstra's set-top boxes are likewise coming from a non-Cisco source. Telstra is using Netgem 's T-box, a hybrid set-top that supports broadband and terrestrial, over-the-air TV. (See Can Videoscape Save Cisco's Set-Top Business?)

So, what's left for Cisco? A big piece, actually. Telstra is using Cisco's cloud-based Content Delivery System (CDS). ThePlatform feeds off of that, setting up the right file format/profile so it's optimized for each type of supported target display device.

Why this matters
The Telstra deployment offers somewhat of a sneak peek of where the TV service provider market is going and what it will start to look like in the next two to three years. Cable MSOs are just starting to stretch their TVE ambitions beyond VoD to devices like tablets and connected TVs, and the work being done in Australia is laying the groundwork for what's to come.

That, according to thePlatform VP of Sales and Marketing Marty Roberts, means blending online video's dynamic navigation systems and personalized recommendation engines with the carrier-class reliability of provider-managed cable and IPTV systems. "It's taking TV operators toward the middle ground," he says.

At the same time, this more flexible, multi-vendor approach may also prevent any one supplier from securing the high ground and keeping customers locked into a monolithic stack of technology -- which tends to be the case with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) IPTV deployments.

For more
For a glance at what's been cooking at thePlatform, Cisco and Telstra, check out:

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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