Video software

ThePlatform Encroaches on Brightcove's Turf

In simplifying its media publishing system, thePlatform Inc. is still targeting high-end Web TV content, but the company believes it can also move into a midmarket already dominated by players like Brightcove Inc.

ThePlatform, the Seattle-based company Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) bought in 2006, is likening its introduction of a new media management system and software development kit to a "relaunch" at age 10. Marty Roberts, thePlatform's VP of marketing, says about 70 percent of the company's engineers have been working on this "radically re-engineered" backend system for the last two years.

"We think it's the infrastructure that takes us forward for the next 10 years," he says.

ThePlatform has historically made its hay at the high end of the Web video market, scoring publishing deals with sites that offer popular, premium-level fare, such as Hulu LLC and Comcast-operated sites Fancast and Fancast Xfinity TV, a newer offering that provides cable TV subscribers with additional shows and movies from the likes of HBO and Cinemax. (See Comcast's 'Xfinity' Goes Live , Comcast's 'Xfinity' to Go Mobile in 2010 , Comcast to Expand 'Xfinity' to DSL Subs, and Rogers Unboxes 'TV Everywhere'.)

ThePlatform helps out Web video clients that run operations with 10 million or more views per month. At the midmarket level, 500,000 views may be more typical, but, from a media publishing standpoint, the competition for that business tends to be much fiercer.

Roberts says thePlatform came to the realization that it could only target the midmarket by simplifying its publishing systems while also preserving the smarts to handle the increasingly complex tasks required by thePlatform's largest customers, which continue to see their broadband-fed video worlds expand in terms of both titles and the devices requiring support.

"The knock on thePlatform has been that we haven't been easy to use," he says.

ThePlatform hopes to erase that complexity concern with two newly revamped products: mpx Beta, the overarching media management system; and mpx Dev Kit, a software development kit that's been rewritten from the ground up. (See thePlatform Updates Its Platform.)

The primary console, mpx Beta, is designed to ingest and handle large video libraries, allowing clients to upload enormous files simultaneously. It also introduces a more personalized workflow for the video editors that are charged with pushing content to the Web.

As workflow goes, thePlatform has added the concept of a "Smart Publish Profile," which helps automate typically mundane, time-consuming processes (such as adding thumbnail images and metadata). It also lets those cross-platform video players use one source file to generate multiple versions for publishing onto Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhones and iPads, Boxee boxes, or a range of handhelds and PCs that use Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBE) Flash, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Silverlight, or other schemes.

Several of thePlatform's clients are also looking at how to get content prepped, for once clients establish those profiles, they can then bookmark them and remove several manual steps from the workflow.

ThePlatform went in that direction after discovering that no two customers used the old console in the same way, and instead found their own path through it, Roberts says.

ThePlatform is starting to migrate its largest customers to the new system, but one midmarket customer, Women's Professional Soccer, is also among the first to use it.

— Jeff Baumgartner, theSite Editor, Cable Digital News

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