Powering Up 'TV Everywhere'


ThePlatform, Comcast's online video-management subsidiary, is looking to help programming networks bring full TV Everywhere capabilities to their own Web sites.

The Seattle-based company — which is handling back-end services for Comcast's impending On Demand Online launch — launched a service for managing a content owner's integration with multiple TV service providers to not only authenticate subscribers but also authorize playback of individual programs and enforce business policies.

Dealing with a single distribution point for a TV Everywhere service is relatively straightforward. But with several distributors in the mix, the process of managing content-distribution agreements and associated rights becomes very complex, thePlatform CEO Ian Blaine said.

“Programmers have to worry about multiple operators and multiple channel lineups,” Blaine said.

For Comcast, thePlatform is powering the cable operator's flavor of TV Everywhere, slated to be available nationwide in early December. That service will provide content from two dozen networks, accessible via Comcast.net or Fancast, to the operator's cable and broadband subscribers for no additional charge.

In Canada, Rogers Communications is using thePlatform's system for the launch of its own TV Everywhere offering, set for this month.

To address the issue of multiparty authentication, thePlatform introduced a new Authentication Adapter service as part of its media-publishing system. The Authentication Adapter will act as a proxy that can authenticate consumers for a programmer for the numerous TV service providers' billing systems.

Along with Comcast, thePlatform handles online-video management for Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Cablevision Systems — rounding out four of the five largest U.S. cable operators.

But competitors note that not everyone in the TV-distribution food chain (including telco and satellite operators) will want to plug into a system controlled by Comcast. Other vendors targeting the online-video management space include Brightcove and ExtendMedia.

ThePlatform's system also can ensure that media rights associated with individual shows — such as airdates, geographic restrictions and other business polices — are enforced, and verify that the consumer is still an active customer of the TV service provider.

For example, if a consumer visits a programmer's Web site and searches for a particular show that isn't included in their TV subscription package, service providers have a choice of what to present to the consumer: only those videos the consumer is allowed to watch; full search results with an up-sell opportunity to subscribe to a premium subscription package; or a pay-per-view option for that online show.

Meanwhile, thePlatform also touted some recent customers wins with cable programmers.

In the last two months, according to the company, it has landed more than 20 individual programming networks as customers for Web-video management, including E!, G4, Style, Travel Channel, Big Ten Network, and several regional Fox Sports Networks and Comcast Sports Group services. E!, G4, Style and Travel Channel each previously used Brightcove for online-video management.