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Cisco gears up for IP video with purchase of ExtendMedia

Thu, 08/26/2010 - 9:10am
Mike Robuck

With the trend toward IP video over multiple devices on multiple platforms in mind, Cisco announced today that it was buying privately held ExtendMedia.

ExtendMedia, which is based in Newton, Mass., but has the bulk of its 52 employees in Toronto, will blend its TV Everywhere software-based content management system into Cisco's networking and video portfolios once the deal closes in the first half of Cisco's 2011 fiscal year. Financial terms weren't available.

"ExtendMedia provides a software platform that enables people to manage, publish and monetize content across a wide variety of devices, including PCs and mobile phones, as well as TVs and tablets," said Kip Compton, who is general manager of the Video and Content Platforms business for Cisco's Service Provider Video Technology Group. "We're integrating this into our Service Provider Technology Group in response to the transition we see in the video marketplace, where consumers are transitioning from a TV-based experience to a network-based experience so they can access content across all of the devices that are important to them.

"That's something our service provider customers are responding to, and we're in turn responding to them and delivering those types of solutions. We think ExtendMedia's solution will be a key part of that."

ExtendMedia is deployed with AT&T and Bell Canada for the provisioning of their TV Everywhere services. On the cable side, ExtendMedia inked an enterprise license agreement with Cablevision that allows the cable operator to use ExtendMedia's OpenCase platform to develop new content service management applications.

Compton said ExtendMedia has competed with Comcast-owned thePlatform in some markets and that the two companies have analogous functionalities in provisioning video.

After this morning's announcement, thePlatform issued a statement that Cisco is one of the content delivery network partners that it works with and that it expected to continue working with Cisco.

"ThePlatform has consistently predicted further consolidation in the white-label OVP (online video platform) space, and today's acquisition of ExtendMedia by Cisco is simply part of this trend," according to thePlatform's statement. "Serving the premium video market requires scale and resources, as thePlatform knows from a decade of experience. ThePlatform's own acquisition by Comcast has enabled the company to grow and scale its business while maintaining its independence and broad focus on the video market."

Compton said that while thePlatform and ExtendMedia share some capabilities today – both provide authentication and entitlement – he sees a transition to a different model down the road when it comes to serving up TV Everywhere-type video to different service providers, devices and platforms.

"We see things evolving to where the way people are thinking about this market is changing from sort of an independent decision around a particular component to more of looking at it from a systems perspective and wanting to see an end-to-end solution and architectural differentiation," he said.

Compton said that one of the areas Cisco and ExtendMedia will work on combining their respective technologies in is advertising, which would include Cisco's experience to date with the SCTE 130 advertising standard combined with ExtendMedia's familiarity with  online advertising.

Cisco anticipates keeping most ExtendMedia employees once the transaction is completed, and Compton said there isn't a plan in place to relocate them.

"I think the key message from our perspective is obviously we're investing in the technologies that our customers need to succeed in the future as we go through a pretty significant market transition," Compton said when summarizing the deal.

At The Cable Show earlier this year, some of cable's top executives provided their outlooks on the transition to IP video.

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