Next TV

Zype’s Targets of Opportunity

CEO Ed Laczynski sees plenty of business to go around in hot OTT publishing sector 4/10/2017 8:00 AM Eastern

The online video-publishing sector is full of competitive rivals large and small, spanning Comcast and The Walt Disney Co.-backed BAMTech, NeuLion, Kaltura, Brightcove and Turner-owned iStreamPlanet, to name just a few.

In that mix is Zype, a relative newcomer that recently scored $3.6 million in seed funding to help it fuel an over-the-top, cloud-based video-publishing business focused on both on-demand and live content. Of recent note, Zype inked an integration deal with Opera TV that enables Zype’s various content partners, such as the World Poker Tour and Shout! Factory, to gain easier entry onto a platform tied into a wide range of smart TVs, connected Bluray Disc players and TiVo devices. The launch followed a private beta initiated last year.

Next TV editor Jeff Baumgartner recently caught up with Zype CEO Ed Laczynski to discuss the state of the market and what’s on the horizon for the New York-based startup. An edited transcript follows.

NTV: Can you offer a bit more color on the Opera TV integration and why it’s important to Zype?
Ed Laczynski: At the center of our strategy, we are a cloud video-distribution service for OTT, and every time we add a new end point to our platform, it’s a pretty important step for us because we’re giving our customers new ways to distribute their content and get audience, get reach and get discovered.

Opera TV was one of the more enjoyable integrations we’ve done. I think they saw that content owners really need an easy-to-use tool to post [content], manage their metadata and to organize, to curate and to tie in with ad networks. We saw in them a good partner to do direct feed integration, so our content owners don’t really have to think too much — they can just hit a few buttons and quickly get on all of the various marketplaces that Opera TV supports. And our content owners have shown that there’s a lot of demand to get into these native connected-TV marketplaces.

NTV: What are your big priorities for the rest of the year? Is it about more integrations like this, or adding content providers to your platform?
EL: We have to be good at both of those things, but the various end points and integrations are really what powers our growth. We’re building more tools on the source side of video, whether it’s live streaming or on-demand — to get video into a single system that you can then go and publish, distribute and do great things with.

The app marketplaces are in version 2.0 now. Fire TV is very relevant now. Apple TV has [a] new store, versus the older device footprints, and Roku’s been evolving. We see that evolving in how content owners publish to those places. We see more feed-based tools being necessary in the years to come.

Whereas Roku has Direct Publisher, and we’ll be supporting that pretty soon, we [also] see support for MRSS (Media Real Simple Syndication) as more of a standard, and we want to be at the center of that with tools that help content owners produce MRSS feeds based on the content rules they have and the audiences that they’re trying to serve.

NTV: You introduced a live streaming platform last year to complement your on-demand offering. What kind of traction are you seeing with live? Has it been mostly event-focused, or are you seeing some interest from the realm of virtual MVPDs that are streaming into the market?
EL: We built that system to get easy-to-use, live transcoding at multiple bit rates and an integrated paywall — all the things you need to start a live streaming endeavor without having to do a lot of custom development. We’ve had some good traction on it. It’s the fastest-growing part of our business.

We have [customers] doing sports, including highschool and college athletics … and streaming local sporting events using anything from HD cameras down to iPhones. We have a few customers in Europe with European content but serving expats in the U.S. … using a linear format. And we have some daily and weekly broadcasters, whether it’s a comedy format or a news talk show. We see that also helping to grow that part of the business.

NTV: What other sorts of things are on your product roadmap?
EL: We’ll be building out more OTT marketplaces. We have a product we’re working on for a streaming platform called Xumo [which operates OTT channels on native platforms for smart TVs, as well as for mobile apps]. We have content owners asking Zype to create integrations there, and we want to be at the center of that.

We’ll also be adding to our live platforms, with faster start times and more tools for independent broadcasters to set up and operate live-stream businesses without having to go to three or four tech companies or suppliers to get something done.

NTV: Given the competition in this OTT publishing market, what can you do to stand apart from many other companies that are focused on this market?
EL: It’s been about simplifying a very complex supply chain in a way that’s easy to understand for our customers. We call it OTT In a Box.

With companies like BAMTech and NeuLion, we respect them — they’re amazing companies — but their approach to the market is a lot different than ours. [While] they put bodies in the field and on the ground, we try to solve some of the same problems though software and automation, and we think, ultimately, that a software-focused approach will win.

NTV: How has the amount of activity you’re seeing with respect to requests for proposals and requests for information changed in the last 12 months?
EL: We drive a tremendous amount of new relationships and new customers through our in-bound [channels]. We see 10,000 to 20,000 targets for Zype in this space, where you have digital-first broadcasters and publishers.

We’re not focused on selling software to Netflix or someone who posted their first cat video yesterday. But it’s everywhere in between that we believe the market is underserved, and certainly underserved by easy-to-use software that doesn’t take a revenue share or doesn’t sit in the middle of their audience and their business and enable them to collect, own and operate their audience in a way that drives equity value for our customers. We think we’re unique in that and that there are a lot of targets there.

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