While Netflix has taken on the operational challenge of delivering its apps to almost every device under sun, managing this irritating fragmentation issue isn’t one that pay TV providers, programmers and other over-the-top video providers particularly relish replicating as consumer eyeballs continue to gravitate to an expanding array of IP-connected screens.
1 Mainstream, a company started up by former Roku, Apple, and TiVo execs, hopes to eliminate, or at least vastly reduce this fragmentation headache, using an automated system that, it claims, can help providers offer a common video streaming experience to the growing device ecosystem, and do so in a matter of weeks.
1 Mainstream unveiled its Internet TV platform Thursday, along with its marquee launch customer, British Sky Broadcasting, a financial backer that worked with the vendor to create its Sky News app for the Apple TV, Roku platform and, most recently, the NOW TV IP set-top, as well as the delivery of Sky Sports to the Apple TV.
According to Rajeev Raman, 1 Mainstream’s CEO and the former head of product at Roku, the vendor’s software-centric platform starts off with a self-serve, app-creation system called Uplink that specifies the supported metadata, digital rights management systems and business rules (pay-per-view, subscription, free, etc.), and a check-boxing system to determine which devices for which to build the app. The next step in the process involves video ingest, encoding and playout and distribution to the content delivery network. 1 Mainstream also ties in an ad serving option – either through the company’s own servers or its customer’s, and an integrated billing feature that can support various payment options (in-app billing, credit cards, etc.).
Raman claimed that 1 Mainstream’s emphasis on automation enables it to get customers up and running on multiple device platforms in “less than three weeks.”
Raman said 1 Mainstream has already completed integrations with multiple CDNs, including EdgeCast (soon to become part of Verizon Communications, and 1 Mainstream’s “preferred partner”), Amazon CloudFront, and Akamai Technologies. 1 Mainstream has already built in support for the Apple TV, Roku, Xbox 360, Samsung Smart TVs, Google TV, iPad, Android tablets, Kindle Fire tablets, and Web browsers. Devices on the roadmap include the iPhone, Android smartphones, LG TVs, and the Google Chromecast streaming adapter.
Raman said 1 Mainstream, which supplies components that would make it competitively overlap with companies such as Comcast-owned thePlatform and Brightcove, has about 25 customers, and is primarily targeting large pay-TV providers, as well as broadcasters and emerging “Internet networks” from around the globe that are using OTT to broaden their distribution pipeline.
Backed by DCM, Menlo Ventures and BSkyB, 1 Mainstream secured seed funding last May and has no current plans to seek an A-round, according to Raman, who said his company is getting close to turning a profit. Founded in 2012, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has fewer than 15 employees.