Avail-TVN Eyes Expansion With $30 Million Upgrade

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Digital-media services firm Avail-TVN plans to pump more than $30 million into its video-distribution network over the next two years, revamping its infrastructure to provide new services and substantially more content.

The company's new offerings are to include TV Everywhere services for content providers and out-of-market sports packages from the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League starting this fall.

Avail-TVN has deals with the NBA and NHL to offer sports packages to cable and telco TV providers when their 2010-11 seasons begin this fall, and is in talks with other sports leagues, CEO Ramu Potarazu said. On that front, the company will be competing with InDemand Networks and Comcast Media Center.

Avail-TVN CEO Ramu Potarazu

As part of the larger upgrade, Avail-TVN is moving to a "super headend" (SHE) architecture, which will provide aggregated linear, video-on-demand and pay-per-view content from a single source. That, according to the company, will improve efficiencies of existing services such as quick-turn VOD. In addition, Avail-TVN plans to dramatically increase its storage capacity to 5 Petabytes (about 5 million Gigabytes), about 30 times its current capacity, to fuel delivery of more content to more platforms.

Reston, Va.-based Avail-TVN -- which has more than 300 content and service-provider customers -- was formed through IPTV content aggregator Avail Media's acquisition last year of VOD provider TVN Entertainment, a deal reportedly worth $80 million.

"What we did with the combined company was to say, ‘What should be our next-generation platform to provide expanded services to our content providers as well as our distribution partners?'" Potarazu said.

While it will continue to distribute live TV via satellite, Avail-TVN will adopt a hybrid distribution model that uses both terrestrial fiber and satellite distribution to help customers increase capacity and streamline costs. The hybrid network also will let the company offer new services such as dynamic ad insertion, time-shifting of linear content ("live-to-VOD") and distributed storage.

So far this year, the company has increased the amount of HD content available by more than 130% and VOD assets by 67%, and began rolling out MPEG-4 linear video services with cable MSOs throughout North America. Avail-TVN currently provides 300 SD and 60 HD feeds in MPEG-4, and with the super headend architecture will be able to offer those services the cable operators across its entire footprint.

Avail-TVN in the fourth quarter of 2010 plans to introduce the out-of-market sports packages, as well as local, customized pay-per-view playout and 3D programming. New services for content providers are to include more comprehensive content preparation and TV Everywhere support with a centralized authentication service.

New services on tap for the first half of 2011 include multiplatform-enabled ingestion, storage, management and distribution of content to multiple devices from a single source.

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