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Video services

ZoneTV's Video PaaS Arms TV Titans With Custom Programming

ZoneTV is taking the platform that brought it success and turning it into a product.

To date, ZoneTV has made its hay with an AI-assisted video platform that integrates over-the-top and other digital content into the set-tops of cable and telco TV operators. It does this on behalf of its various studio partners and also for its own licensed content.

Now ZoneTV is opening a new chapter in its business. The company has provided its own video platform as a service for others -- from traditional pay-TV providers and programmers, OTT-delivered VoD services, as well as a new breed of virtual MVPD (multichannel video programming distributor) -- to create branded, linear TV channels that can also be personalized. (See ZoneTV Programs Television Like Pandora.)

That new offering, called ZoneTV Studio, is made up of four individual components -- a Programming Studio (for channel creation), an AI Studio (a machine learning system that assesses channel content and metadata to auto-create and configure linear-style channels), an Ad Studio (to manage advertising for those individual channels) and a Configuration Studio (to prepare content for distribution to various streaming and video devices and platforms).

Jeff Weber, ZoneTV's CEO and a former AT&T exec, says customers can license the whole smash or the individual elements.

The additional business model came to be after several potential clients inquired if ZoneTV would be willing to provide access to its technology tools that would, in turn, enable them to build and launch services on their own that would extract more value out of their VoD content vaults.

"There was a clear market demand to produce this," he said.

A yet unnamed "significant operator" is using ZoneTV Studio to create a branded, dynamic channel using an existing VoD library that has struggled to get the level of usage the company had hoped. The aim now is to use ZoneTV's system, and A.I. techniques that index and enhance the underlying metadata to create and program a channel with that content in a way that provides personalization and, more generally, a way to improve the legacy VoD service.

Weber doesn't like to call this "enhanced VoD," but allows that this angle has served as the starting point for many video service operators.

With ZoneTV Studio, the company hopes to build on a service that has helped to bring dozens of subscription VoD services -- including those built by ZoneTV through its own licensing deals and in partnership with others -- to the set-top platforms of several large MVPDs, including AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and DirecTV, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL), Telus Corp. (NYSE: TU; Toronto: T), BCE Inc. (Bell Canada) (NYSE/Toronto: BCE) and Frontier Communications Corp. (NYSE: FTR).

— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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