Start-up company Brightcove aims to provide an online service to allow mainstream and emerging video publishers to offer material directly to consumers over the internet.

Based near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Brightcove has been established to take advantage of the convergence of television and the internet.

Users will be able to order programs to be automatically sent to their hard drives for subsequent viewing.

The company is founded on the vision of an open video publishing platform, unencumbered by physical, geographic or monopolistic constraints.

“From production and distribution to marketing and viewing, television’s business model is undergoing a significant transformation,” said Jeremy Allaire, founder and chief executive of Brightcove.

The Brightcove service aims to integrate into the broad internet content ecosystem, and enable and service publishers of all sizes, from video bloggers to established content providers, rights holders and independent producers.

“We are working towards a world where television and video production and distribution are much more democratized. Hundreds of mainstream video providers will make this transition, and thousands more will be born.”

Jeremy Allaire’s first online venture, Allaire Corporation, best known for its Cold Fusion web application development platform, was subsequently acquired by Macromedia for $360 million. He continued to serve as chief technology officer at Macromedia before joining General Catalyst, a venture capital group, which is now one of the main backers for the new company.

In various guises, internet protocol television, or IPTV, offers the potential to revolutionise video distribution over broadband data networks, both for real-time live television services and through material that is downloaded on-demand.

Unlike internet based services such as Akimbo and Dave Networks, which have released their own consumer devices, Brightcove is counting on the success of third party systems, such as Microsoft Media Center, as well as other set-top boxes.

Rather than chasing the latest mainstream movie releases, dominated by a relatively small number of titles, Brightcove is targeting the so-called “long tail” that characterises patterns of online distribution and consumption.

Brightcove intends to marry the strengths of the internet with the medium of television and anticipates a world in which there will be as many video channels as there are web sites.

The growth of peer-to-peer distribution networks and illicit video downloads suggests that there is a demand for online video distribution, but there is a need for greater ease of use and robust rights management and content protection.

While there may be many contenders for this space, the company that is successful will need to combine Apple appeal with the popularity of Google and the customer service of Amazon, which is a tall order. But it is just possible that a start-up operation will outpace the major media corporations in transforming the consumer experience of television.