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thePlatform tunes up TV Everywhere with new tools

Thu, 03/08/2012 - 3:01pm
Mike Robuck

thePlatform's mpx systemIn an effort to bring more value to cable operators’ TV Everywhere services, thePlatform has added new features to its mpx system that enable customized content bundles and the ability to segment subscribers.

“The two new features that we are introducing are actually pretty simple features overall, but I think they unlock a lot of opportunity and potential for our customers,” said thePlatform’s Marty Roberts, senior vice president of sales and marketing worldwide. “We think there’s a lot more opportunity to add a lot more value to the TV Everywhere model.”

By leveraging its metadata capabilities, thePlatform, which is a subsidiary of Comcast, has introduced the new features.

Subscription Packages are collections of content, defined by the operators, that mirror subscribers’ basic, extended or premium tiers, as well as which second screen devices are authorized to show the content.

The end result is dynamic content packages that reach beyond the current linear TV or on-demand libraries. Cable operators could cash in on extending their content across various devices by offering subscription services to their customers.

“Subscription Packages gives you the ability to curate content collections based on all kinds of different things about that content, so any metadata that is associated with that content,” Roberts said. “It could be its category, keywords, ratings, where the content comes from; these are all things we can use to put packages of content together.

“Today on the TV, there’s only room on the cable for three or four of the back episodes [of a series], but online we don’t have those constraints, so we can offer all of the back episodes. You can really start to get dynamic with these types of packages.”

The Subscriber Groups are similar, but they allow operators to segment customers based on a wide range of operator-defined filters, such as their paid TV subscription tiers, geography, acceptable content rating, device type and content viewing preferences.

Within thePlatform’s system, subscribers can belong to multiple Subscriber Groups and can be offered a variety of Subscription Packages to create highly tailored offerings. Both  features are now available for free to mpx customers and are in early trials with multiple TV operators around the globe.

Cable operators can offer specific kids’ programming packages or date-specific packages, such as Halloween fare, but only below an “R” rating if that’s what the user prefers.

“It really allows the aggregators to act like aggregators and add value across the board, because now you can put together all kinds of packages,” Roberts said. “What we’re doing is extending the use of metadata to put together these content packages for different subscription groups. You can use the metadata to create a policy, so you can group content by categories, by keywords, tags, asset types, target devices, content ratings, content preferences – you name it. You can group content together and package it all up and offer it to customers.

“Because we’re targeting IP-based devices, the UIs are much more dynamic. It’s a really nice way of adding value to the subscription packages that our customers have today.”

Cable operators can not only offer the content across various devices, such as PCs, tablets, smartphones and other IP-connected devices, but also include promotions and take advantage of upsell opportunities.

Being able to offer a wide range of content across a wide swath of devices could also keep those customers from wandering over to competing over-the-top services.

“It’s pretty interesting because when we talk about cord-shaving and cord-cutting with our customers, we’ve got customers on the spectrum from denial all the way to paranoia about the whole thing,” Roberts said. “The healthy place is probably somewhere in between, but everyone agrees that adding more value to the packages that they’re giving to their customers today is a great way to make sure that there’s not a lot of motivation to leave that pay service or reduce their subscription tier and things like that.

“We think this technology really helps to enable that.”

In addition to Comcast, Seattle-based thePlatform also counts Time Warner Cable, Liberty Global, Cablevision, Cox Communications and Rogers Communications among its cable operator customers.

Last week, thePlatform struck a multi-screen deal with A+E Networks. In addition to A+E, programmer clients include PBS, Travel Channel Media, E!, truTV, Style Network, Outdoor Channel and NBC Local Media.

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