Comcast's thePlatform online video management subsidiary is handling back-end services for the parent company's impending On Demand Online launch -- and now it's proposing to help programmers deliver TV Everywhere, as well.
Seattle-based thePlatform is launching a new service for programming networks looking to bring full TV Everywhere capabilities to their own Web sites by managing the integration on their behalf with multiple TV service providers. ThePlatform says it not only authenticates subscribers, it can also authorize playback of individual programs and enforce business policies.
Meanwhile, thePlatform also is touting customers wins. 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 networks with Fox Sports Networks and Comcast Sports Group. E!, G4, Style and Travel Channel each previously used Brightcove for online video management.
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.
Dealing with a single distribution point for a TV Everywhere service is relatively straightforward. But with several distributors, 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.
First, to address the issue of multiparty authentication, thePlatform is introducing 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 large U.S. cable operators.
Beyond baseline authentication, thePlatform is able to map individual video assets to each service provider's channels to give programmers a way to authorize playback of each show based on the consumer's subscription package. The company says it can verify "within milliseconds" whether a subscriber should be allowed to access a given asset based on his or her subscription package.
ThePlatform's system also can ensure that media rights associated with individual shows -- such as air dates, geographic restrictions and other business polices -- are enforced; and re-verify that the consumer is still an active customer of the TV service provider.
In addition, thePlatform's TV Everywhere tools can let programmers tailor their video Web sites based on business arrangements with TV distributors.
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.