Comcast subsidiary thePlatform has launched a new Virtual TV Framework that provides cloud-based management of live and on-demand services for television operators. It now counts BT among its customers, supporting BT TV on both its Vision and YouView services. The move to integrate live channels will enable operators to compete more effectively with other online video services and allow legacy services to begin a gradual migration to multiscreen delivery.
Based on thePlatform mpx video publishing system, the Virtual TV Framework enables cable, satellite and telco service providers to deliver live television, linear programming and video on demand through the cloud.
“Our customers can now transition to TV services that incorporate the best of TV, and the best of the Web,” said Ian Blaine, the chief executive of thePlatform. “Our Virtual TV Framework is the culmination of more than a decade of technical experience managing video for many of the largest TV and media companies in the world. It’s not a monolithic stack, but rather an open framework that gives them greater flexibility and cost control.”
Providing unified distribution to a range of connected devices, mpx supports smartphones and tablets, through games consoles and smart televisions, to set-top boxes, including the generic Reference Design Kit specification.
While linear channels are airing, mpx will soon enable media files and associated cue points for adverts to be saved automatically to allow dynamic advertising in subsequent delivery on demand.
The mpx platform integrates with the ThinkAnalytics recommendation engine to enable operators to create an individually personalised offering.
For what is described as advanced video commerce, mpx allows operators to configure cross promotions. For example, at the end of a movie there could be a prompt to rent or purchase the sequel or prequel.
Operating as an independent subsidiary of Comcast, thePlatform has customers including Comcast and Time Warner Cable in the United States, Rogers and Shaw Media in Canada, and Liberty Global and BT in Europe.
For BT, thePlatform is supporting video on demand across BT Vision both on the Cardinal platform and YouView boxes. Speaking to informitv, Ian Blaine explained: “We’re being asked to support both. Out job is to harmonise the technologies and provide a single interface.” Asked whether this meant BT Vision would be available on other devices in the future, he replied: “We’re there when they are ready.”
Originally thePlatform focussed on managing assets for video on demand but with the emergence of ‘TV Everywhere’ initiatives it is now also supporting the delivery of linear channels to network connected devices.
“We were told if you want to play in the television business you need to do more and we listened,” he said.
He described how Netflix and iTunes were putting pressure on operators in the United States and how thePlatform is creating what he called “a nice prescriptive framework” to support a best of breed open solution that can interoperate with legacy systems and provide a competitive feature set for operators. “Now you can be on the same innovation cycle as the young guns coming in over the top.”
In a cosy fireside chat session at The Future of Digital Media Distribution conference, he appeared with the chief technology officer of BT TV, Alvaro de Nicolas, who appeared very positive about the relationship with thePlatform. Interestingly, the man from BT had a lot to say about the BT Sport proposition that launched in record time from the former Olympic media centre, but he barely mentioned YouView.