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Brightcove Tunes Up for 'TV Everywhere' Pilots

Brightcove Inc. says it's working with cable programmers on "TV Everywhere" (TVE) pilot projects that allow viewers to access content from those networks via the Web as part of their traditional cable-TV subscriptions.

The Internet video firm wouldn't name the networks that will use Brightcove's product to decide which viewers should get access to their programming and deliver that content through individual network Websites. But several major programmers already use Brightcove's platform to publish Web video, including Discovery Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), A&E Networks, Fox, TBS, and Rainbow Media Holdings LLC. (See Brightcove Takes TV Everywhere.)

The move puts Brightcove in more direct competition with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)-owned thePlatform Inc. , which is targeting programmers with a recently introduced "Authenticaton Adapter" service, and is already involved in Web TV launches of Comcast and Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI). (See thePlatform Plugs In 'TV Everywhere', Rogers: 46K+ Subs Want Web TV Beta, and Rogers Unboxes 'TV Everywhere'.)

Brightcove vice president of TV solutions Eric Elia, a former Comcast executive who is overseeing the firm's TV Everywhere efforts, said he expects some cable networks to launch pilots using Brightcove's product in March or April. "We don't have any [pilots] that are live today. We have commitments, and several that are in development," he added.

Comcast has taken the lead with its TV Everywhere effort, called Fancast Xfinity TV, which launched to about 16 million digital cable and Comcast high-speed online customers in mid-December. (See Comcast's 'Xfinity' Goes Live .) Later this year, Comcast plans to expand Xfinity to cable TV subscribers that buy high-speed Internet access from rival carriers such as Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). (See Comcast to Expand 'Xfinity' to DSL Subs.)

Comcast initially is taking a centralized approach with its TV Everywhere strategy and authentication process, offering content from multiple networks on a single site. Brightcove's approach aims to help TV channels deliver TVE content via their individual Websites -- a distribution model that Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) is pursuing as part of its cross-platform video strategy. (See TWC Boots Up 'TV Everywhere' Trial.)

But Elia said Brightcove would also work with its cable network customers to provision their content from centralized TVE sites from MSOs such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

"Where I think things get interesting [is that] we will be working with everybody by the nature of those programming relationships. Programmers will be working with us to automate the distribution of their media, and the challenges of distributing to multiple end points," Elia said.

A three-layered approach
With TVE distribution, Brightcove would provide three levels of service, Elia said. The bottom layer is media management, and coordinating the hosting and video delivery across multiple content delivery networks. On top of that, it would provide a set of tools for managing video and the metadata, and "rules for where it plays back." And the top layer is a set of tools for delivering the user experience, and functions like displaying the most popular videos and the newest videos.

To help with "authenticating" which subscribers would get access to content, Brightcove said Monday that it struck a deal with Ping Identity Corp. to integrate the "PingFederate" software into Brightcove's TV Everywhere Solution Pack.

Most of Brightcove's customers have traditionally been broadcast and cable programmers. But with TVE, the company is also talking to cable operators, satellite-TV firms, and other multichannel video distribution providers, Elia said.

With companies like Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) pursuing the distribution of online video directly to the home, Elia said to look out for other big Web players to get involved in video distribution, suggesting that the industry could see cable networks strike deals with portals such as Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) and AOL, and with social networks like Facebook and MySpace .

"I think the story of the year is really going to be TV Everywhere through your pay-TV service provider, satellite, cable, or former telco. But I think what's really interesting is the notion of other kinds of service providers," Elia said.

Brightcove faces competition in the TVE space from several firms, including thePlatform, ExtendMedia Inc. , and Avail-TVN . (See thePlatform Tackles 'TV Everywhere'.)

"It's a big ocean and there's a lot of room for us to all drive our boats without bumping into each other," Elia said when asked about TVE competition.

— Steve Donohue, Special to Cable Digital News

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