Today video publishing vendor thePlatform, which is owned by Comcast, released a Web-based console that was designed to help programmers and broadcasters manage live events across multi-screen devices.
The console, which is an add-on to thePlatform’s mpx video publishing system, allows thePlatform’s customers to schedule and manage live events, such as sports, news or award shows.
“The topic de jour this year has really been around live events,” said thePlatform’s Marty Roberts, senior vice president, sales and marketing. “We’re finding that there’s a lot more talk and activity around live sports events. We also have news programmers that are looking to bring on more programs to make a more distinctive online experience around their live broadcasts of each event. We also have all kinds of different live events like award shows and things like that.
“There’s really an expectation by our audience to consume those evens on all kinds of different devices, whether its an iPad, or a smart TV, you name it. Right now it’s a little bit difficult to manage the end to-end process for live events to the players. The encoding process and the distribution process for live events has been handled independently of the content discovery, the policies and the players so we wanted to sync that up and make it a little bit tighter.”
The console lets programmers and broadcasters schedule and manage live signal acquisition and encoding, handle dynamic advertising insertion and metadata creation, and automatically archive live video broadcasts to create video-on-demand (VOD) clips or replays.
Instead of cutting and pasting URL links to specific video streams that were managed by third-party systems, the new console manages those events in real time from a single Web console and uses thePlatform’s Player Service to view live events on computers, smartphone, tablets and other devices.
On the encoding side, thePlatform has partnered with Elemental Live, but Roberts said additional encoding vendors would be added down the road.
By using the console, content producers can add graphics to a sports event, such as a yellow card during a soccer game, provide stock ticker information during a news report, or provide biographical information on an award winner during a live show.
The second front the console tackles is monetizing the content. By using SCTE 130 and 35-based standards, the console uses cue points for dynamic ad insertion. Roberts said online ad rights can differ from linear programming deals, but new ads can be dropped in via the cue points. For example, regional sports networks that want to use advertisements that are specific to their regions or content deals can also utilize the cue points. The company's initial advertsing partner is FreeWheel.
“Obviously making sure that whatever the rights are, whether you can only broadcast to a certain city, or only play it back as part of a pay-per-view event or advertising, we have to make sure we can monetize that,” Roberts said.
The third leg of the new console is auto-archiving the content for VOD, which could include changing the stream format from Flash to MPEG-4. While the live event is airing, the media file and its associated cue points for ads, chapter breaks, and associated metadata are automatically saved and archived within mpx for VOD. This allows programmers and broadcasters to rapidly publish or syndicate the video to third-party sites or their own websites, and make the footage easily discoverable for search and recommendations.
“Our job in the ecosystem to is to take very complex tasks and make them simple for our customers,” Roberts said. “We want to streamline the work load for live events. We want to be able to monetize the content, which means adding in dynamic ads in the cue points for our players to make a decision on which ad to play during that break, and then ultimately archiving that content and rapidly creating that VOD asset.”
The new console is available today for an additional monthly cost to mpx users. Roberts said that the new console has been in performance tests with customers over the past few weeks.
Customers for thePlatform include: A+E Networks, BT, Cablevision, CBC, Comcast, Cox Communications, E!, the Golf Channel, HIT Entertainment, Liberty Global, NBC Local Media, NBC Sports Regional Networks, Outdoor Channel, Oxygen, Rogers, Shaw Media, Style, Syfy, Time Warner Cable, Travel Channel Media, truTV, and USA Network.