Gotuit Media, the video-on-demand indexing service, is branching out to help nascent content providers get their programming in VOD platforms.
In the past month, Gotuit has announced deals with the National Lacrosse League and Collegiate Images, which serves as a clearinghouse for historical collegiate sporting events, to bring indexed versions of games to VOD.
In its simplest form, Gotuit provides an indexing service for VOD content, primarily geared today at news, sports and information content.
Such indexing allows viewers to skip to the parts of a news program or a sporting event they are most interested in watching.
For football, think about the ability to see all touchdowns or plays over 25 yards in a game in a condensed VOD format.
"We see this as a whole new way for consumers to consume content," Gotuit executive vice president Marc Pascarella said. "Increasingly, people are less interested in content being pushed at them in a linear fashion."
Gotuit has been testing its indexing technology with an unnamed MSO. In the test, Gotuit is working with a number of content partners to index their VOD content for consumers. "We're partnering with people who have content," he said.
"We're adding a data file to a stored video file," Pascarella said. "We look at the original video file, which has metadata attached and we add a data set to it."
That data set marks each relevant data point in the video asset. A newscast with 12 different stories, for instance, will have 12 different Gotuit data sets.
Gotuit aggregates that information and ships it to the cable headend, where it's stored in a one rack unit server. When a consumer calls up a VOD asset that carries with it the Gotuit data set, that indexing function shows up on the consumer's TV screen.
In a Scientific-Atlanta environment, where VOD channels are mapped by channel, Gotuit basically has its "own" channel, Pascarella said.
In Motorola systems, the Gotuit feature shows up once a subscriber accesses a VOD piece of programming that is Gotuit-enabled.
In each case, the Gotuit content application is launched simultaneously.
For a football game stored in VOD, a consumer could skip to the beginning of each play, or access the content with any number of indexing subscriber categories, such as touchdowns, plays over 25 yards, turnovers or big tackles.
"Our software delineates every single play in the game," Pascarella said
Indexing for other sports follows similar patterns: all the goals and big hits in hockey, for instance, or all the runs scored and great defensive plays in baseball.
This database is built in real time, so a Gotuit newscast is available minutes after completion. Sporting events could be available within 30 minutes, depending on how the rights are structured between the league and the cable MSO, Pascarella said.
"Most every sport lends itself to four to six playlists," Pascarella said. Even basketball, which has a lot of scoring, can be indexed. "It allows users to see what they want to see," he said, the late-game drive, the lead changes, the finish of the game, or all the dunks or three-point shots.
"The technology is applicable across any content type, but the highest value is with nonlinear content, like news, sports, and information-rich programming," Pascarella said. That accounts for more than half of all the programming that's on the air today," he added.
Pascarella said most of the effort is aimed for VOD today, but the software could be used for in-home DVR. "We're indifferent to whether that content is stored in the headend or stored in homes in a DVR," he said. "It makes no difference where the video asset resides."
In the DVR case, the Gotuit application would reside inside the DVR set-top. A consumer would enter commands to record a certain piece of content.
Once the recording of that content begins, the Gotuit software in the set-top would be "listening" for a data match from the content streams coming out of the headend associated with that piece of content. If that content was Gotuit enabled, the Gotuit index for that content would be shipped to the set-top and stored with eventual playback. No consumers are testing the DVR feature today, Pascarella said, but it is working in the labs.
Gotuit's deals with the NLL and Collegiate Images were born out of the company's desire to help content providers get into the VOD space. "These folks haven't dealt with the MSO community in the past," Pascarella said. "For them, this is a chance to extend the product into a new platform."
Collegiate Images owns the rights to college basketball, football and other sports dating from last season to some events that are decades old. The exact rights, Pascarella said, depend on the school, conference, etc. The list covers more than 100 Division I schools, he said.
The NLL games are from the current season. Those games are available in the one cable test market Gotuit is in. Gotuit is indexing one game of the week, taking in a backhaul feed, encoding it and sending it to the MSO testbed.
Pascarella is hopeful that Gotuit will be a natural in cable's VOD environment, especially if rights deals are struck where more sports and news hits the VOD platform. "We're pretty excited about it," he said.