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Multi-screen for the masses: thePlatform bows Virtual TV Framework

Thu, 09/26/2013 - 12:47pm
Mike Robuck

ThePlatform, which is owned by Comcast, has rolled up the lessons learned from its previous deployments into its Virtual TV Framework, which lets service providers replicate their 24-hour, live, linear programming and video on demand (VOD) television services via the cloud.

The Virtual TV Framework uses thePlatform’s mpx video publishing system to allow service providers to mirror their full TV experiences to various multi-screen devices. It also helps service providers create richer and more personalized features across IP-connected set-top boxes, game consoles, smart TVs, tablets, and other devices. The mpx system provides TV operators with centralized video management via a Web console.

“What we’re announcing this week is a confluence of a number of independent initiatives that we’ve been working on with a number of different customers,” said thePlatform’s Marty Roberts, senior vice president of sales and marketing. “We have some new services rolling out, but it’s also based on work that we have been doing with existing customers so we feel really confident that we have hit the mark with the capabilities that we’re coming to the market with.”

 The new Virtual TV Framework provides cloud-based management of linear TV, VOD, enhanced discovery and personalization, targeted adverting, e-commerce, content protection, and multi-screen user interfaces (UIs). The cloud-based capabilities are made possible by mpx’s open APIs and technology partners, along with innovations in unified metadata management, video ingest, and distribution.

Virtual TV Framework’s development was aided by previous deployments and partnerships with Comcast, BT, LGI, and Sky.

“This is really based on technology that we’ve been working on,” Roberts said. “We started these entertainment metadata services for Comcast’s X1 platform. LGI adopted those and contributed a lot on how they have evolved and developed, and now we’re rolling them out for all of our customers. Sky has been instrumental on all of the feedback around digital commerce and how they want to promote different offers to different subscriber groups. We’ve learned a lot by working with them

“We’ve worked with BT on how to structure metadata differently for different types of devices. We’re now powering about 75 percent of the boxes they have in market today, so we’ve learned a lot. We feel like that although the services are new to the general market they’ve gone through a number of iterations with particular customers so we feel really confident that they’ll hit the mark in terms of their feature set and the benefits they’ll deliver for these initiatives.”

ThePlatform has integrated with various vendors in order to build the Virtual TV Framework including: ThinkAnalytics (personalization and discovery), Rovi and TMS (electronic program guides), Microsoft and Adobe (policy management and content protection), Alcatel-Lucent (systems integration), Accedo (user interfaces) and FreeWheel and BlackArrow (targeted advertising.)

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