While “TV Everywhere” remains mostly an idea, the jostling among tech suppliers to get a piece of the action is already well under way.
The concept, as described by Comcast, Time Warner Inc. and others, is fairly straightforward: TV subscribers would be able to access a wealth of video content from cable networks on the Web for no extra charge.
The first technical challenge is authentication — making sure someone is really a paying cable, satellite or telco TV customer. But after that, there's the complexity of managing and delivering content from hundreds of partners to potentially millions of users, said Tom MacIsaac, CEO of video-management vendor ExtendMedia.
“No one's thought through the logistics of this,” MacIsaac said. “No one has had to pull content from a hundred cable networks for an online service before.”
ExtendMedia claims it has developed a system specifically to tackle problems presented by a TV Everywhere environment.
The company's OpenCASE Publisher allows publishers to ingest content from hundreds of sources and then use a graphical, drag-and-drop interface to create content categories, channels and content playlists. The software also can perform automated categorization with a rules engine, and provides a unified, cross-provider search capability, according to ExtendMedia.
MacIsaac said ExtendMedia has signed deals for the management tool with three “tier-one” multichannel providers that plan to launch TV Everywhere-style services before the end of 2009. (He declined to identify them.)
The chief competition for the product? MacIsaac said the one competitor ExtendMedia has encountered is thePlatform, which Comcast acquired in 2006. ThePlatform's management system provides the foundation for the video services on the MSO's Fancast.com and Comcast.net sites.
“Some [cable] operators are going to be comfortable working with Comcast — but some won't,” he said. “Certainly the telcos and the satellite guys, even less so.”
MacIsaac, who joined ExtendMedia in March, previously was a partner at venture capital firm BlueRun Ventures and had been CEO of Lightningcast, an Internet video-advertising provider bought by AOL.
Newton, Mass.-based ExtendMedia sells the Java-based OpenCASE platform either as software, with an enterprise site license and ongoing maintenance fees, or as a hosted service.
The publishing module is integrated with multiple ad servers and networks, including DoubleClick and Microsoft Atlas, MacIsaac said. It also provides metering and reporting for advertising, publishing and syndication of video content.