Seeking to break down the separate silos for live broadcast video, video-on-demand and OTT video for pay-TV providers, thePlatform has come up with a new product that centrally manages all of a provider's video and related metadata files.
thePlatform Inc. , the white-label media publishing company owned by Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), announced the general availability of its new Unified Ingest Service on Tuesday. The new cloud-based product aims to simplify the delivery of linear video, VoD and online video to all devices by combining all the services into one large, central mezzanine video file that can then be adapted for play on different devices.
Currently, most pay-TV providers rely on disparate ingest systems for the various types of video services and their related metadata for shows and movies, making it more difficult and costly to deliver these services to set-top boxes and other customer devices. For instance, copies of the same show or movie are often unnecessarily duplicated, processed and delivered through the separate ingest systems.
"That's driving a ton of complexity and operational overhead," noted Marty Roberts, co-CEO of thePlatform. He also argued that the current silo system is keeping the user experience for multiscreen video from being as good as it could be.
thePlatform's Unified Ingest Service aims to ease this problem by offering up a streamlined system that can manage direct feeds from satellite transmissions, traditional video pumps, operator-owned content delivery networks (CDNs) and external CDNs for online video. It stitches together the content from all these different sources into large, high-quality mezzanine files that can be used to deliver the content to legacy QAM set-tops, new IP set-tops, tablets, game consoles, smartphones and other devices.
Likewise, thePlatform says the Unified Ingest Service can centralize and streamline all the related metadata for the video content, including TV listings and program descriptions from such traditional guide sources as Rovi, Gracenote and Red Bee. The product can also pluck out the most detailed metadata from the different sources, providing viewers with more program information and presumably a better user experience.
"It simplifies the file operations going into the system today," Roberts said. "It also simplifies the operations of the metadata while providing better search and discovery for the end user."
thePlatform, which is selling the new product as a software-as-a-service, is targeting larger cable operators and other pay-TV providers seeking to streamline their video workflows. The product will compete with content management systems from such major players as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC).
Roberts said one major undisclosed customer has already deployed Unified Ingest while at least one more is now testing it. He expects to sign up several more customers this year and then "probably a lot more" next year. thePlatform's current roster of big pay-TV provider customers includes its Comcast parent, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY), Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) and Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC). (See thePlatform Trumpets Support for Pay-TV Operators & Networks.)
"Not all operators are geared up to do this," Roberts said, noting that he doesn't expect all of the company's pay-TV customers to adopt Unified Ingest just yet. But, he said, "we feel like we've hit on a good market-based solution."
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading