Comcast Shifts 'TV Everywhere' To Elemental Transcoders


Comcast is now using transcoding servers from Elemental Technologies to process thousands of hours of TV shows and movies each month for its website and Xfinity TV mobile apps.

The cable operator's thePlatform subsidiary, which powers the TV Everywhere services, has integrated the Elemental file-based video transcoding solution with thePlatform's mpx video management system for multiscreen video delivery.

Elemental's transcoders use off-the-shelf, programmable graphics processing units (GPUs) for compute-intensive video processing and conversion tasks. Comcast is using Elemental servers to create up to 18 individual MPEG-4 outputs of each video title for adaptive bit-rate delivery.

"Comcast is leveraging innovative new technologies that provide cost-effective performance enhancements as we bring more viewing choices to our customers online and on mobile devices," Comcast Interactive Media senior vice president of product development and technology Charlie Herrin said in a statement. "Elemental has a highly reliable transcoding solution that coupled with thePlatform's cloud-based video management, is helping us deliver compelling services to our subscribers."

The authenticated portion of the operator's site provides access to current TV shows and movies from almost 40 cable and premium networks including HBO, Showtime, TNT, TBS and Nickelodeon. On the mobile front, Comcast offers some 6,000 hours of content via its Xfinity TV app for the Apple iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

Comcast was able to reduce the physical footprint for transcoding and video-processing equipment by more than 50% compared with its previous CPU-based solution, according to Elemental CEO Sam Blackman. He declined to say how many Elemental servers Comcast is using, or which transcoding vendor it was previously using.

According to Comcast spokesman Peter Dobrow, Comcast uses several technologies for encoding and transcoding video assets, "and Elemental is a new addition to that portfolio."

Harmonic lists Comcast as a customer for its Rhozet transcoding system, and thePlatform offers Rhozet among its transcoding options. In addition, thePlatform's transcoding partners include Digital Rapids, Google's On2, RadiantGrid Technologies and Telestream.

Earlier this year, Comcast announced it was delivering using Microsoft PlayReady digital rights management and IIS Smooth Streaming technology, through thePlatform.

Portland, Ore.-based Elemental has more than 70 customers, including ABC News, Avail-TVN, Big Ten Network, CBS Interactive, National Geographic, PBS and Time Warner Cable's Oceanic division in Hawaii. The company has about 40 employees.