Multi-screen video

Play It Again! thePlatform Turns TV Into VoD

Further blurring the lines between live TV and video-on-demand (VoD), thePlatform is introducing mpx Replay, a solution for transforming linear TV into a VoD asset immediately after broadcast.

thePlatform Inc. , an independent subsidiary of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), says the new mpx Replay system takes traditional TV content as it's being aired and automatically reformulates the video for instant multiscreen delivery. Programmers can offer catch-up viewing while a live program is still being broadcast -- an increasingly popular feature in Europe -- or turn live video around as a standard VoD offering after a show has ended.

thePlatform generates automated metadata for new content assets, supports pre-set availability windows and offers an optimized C3 video process -- an important feature for North American broadcasters -- to ensure national ads are kept intact during the initial C3 ratings period, while new ad inventory is enabled for insertion starting on day four after the initial program airing. mpx Replay also enables user authentication and video rental and purchasing options.

As part of the mpx Replay system, thePlatform has partnered with Elemental Technologies Inc. (ETI) for just-in-time packaging. The role of Elemental's Delta product is to adapt catch-up and C3 files as needed for efficient video delivery across different types of networks and devices using adaptive bitrate streaming.

The new solution from thePlatform is timely because programmers and service providers are starting to place greater value on VoD libraries as they get better at monetizing that content through ad sales. Not only is on-demand video important for customer retention, but companies are starting to bring in more significant revenue now with dynamic ad insertion. Canoe Ventures LLC announced yesterday that it has now inserted more than 10 billion VoD ads, with the bulk of those insertions coming in 2014. Chris Pizzuro, head of product, sales, and marketing for Canoe, told Light Reading that Canoe expects to double this year's growth in 2015. (See Canoe Floats Its 10 Billionth Ad.)

The debut of mpx Replay also comes as programmers are delivering more of their own content online, even independent of service provider partners. Asked whether new ŕ la carte offerings like those from CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) and Home Box Office Inc. (HBO) would likely help drive demand for the mpx Replay solution, thePlatform's new co-CEO Marty Roberts said he thought they would. (See HBO Will Go OTT in 2015.)

"We find that every new revenue stream our customers add has a direct impact on the amount of content they make available to their audience," Roberts said. "The mpx Replay solution was designed to work with the diversity of business models our customers employ. This includes advertising, TV Everywhere and direct-to-consumer offerings."

Roberts added, however, that most programmers are still primarily offering online linear TV as a complement to TV Everywhere services from pay-TV providers. He noted that viewership is still low, but that "mpx Replay is designed to efficiently bridge this gap between the live broadcast and accessing a show on an audience member's preferred timeline."

Want to know more about multiscreen video? Check out our dedicated multiscreen video content channel here on Light Reading.

mpx Replay builds on the broader mpx product portfolio that thePlatform has steadily developed since 2010. In another milestone, thePlatform integrated linear television and VoD workflows within the publishing system in 2013. The company has also developed numerous technology partnerships for its mpx platform with vendors, including Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBE) and Verizon Digital Media Services , among others. Top customers for the thePlatform include Comcast's own NBC Universal , Fox Broadcasting Co. , BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC). (See thePlatform Places Live TV Bet, and Verizon, thePlatform Team Up on IP Video.)

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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