Advanced Television

thePlatform launches Virtual TV Framework

September 26, 2013

By Colin Mann

Suggesting that the support and investment from parent company Comcast had enabled to re-evaluate its support to its content provider and pay-TV operator customers, white-label video publishing company thePlatform has unveiled a new Virtual TV Framework to enable cable, satellite and IPTV service providers to replicate their 24 hour, live, linear programming and video on demand (VoD) television services via the cloud.

“Now we’ve got a critical mass to bring something to the market that we think is pretty new and interesting,” said Ian Blaine, CEO of thePlatform, describing the initiative as “a more productised framework” for the needs of such customers to deliver content to an increased range of devices. “It can sit next to legacy, but it can also allow you to set up greenfield services.”

The new Virtual TV Framework provides cloud-based management of linear TV, VOD, enhanced discovery and personalisation, targeted advertising, commerce, content protection and multi-screen user interfaces (UIs). The new Virtual TV Framework is made possible by thePlatform’ video management system mpx’s open APIs and best-in-class technology partners, along with underlying innovations in unified metadata management, video ingest, and distribution.

“Our customers can now transition to TV services that incorporate the best of TV, and the best of the Web,” said Blaine. “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. mpx is engineered to work in parallel with legacy TV systems – leveraging existing infrastructure investments – while providing a clear migration path to an all-IP based architecture.”

Key features of mpx’s Virtual TV Framework include:

  • Linear TV: mpx can work with leading encoding systems to ingest live, linear programming and dynamically apply associated metadata and business policies; orchestrate CDN delivery; and support real-time updates to electronic program guides (EPGs). For example, the EPG could adjust if a sporting event runs long, or the EPG can provide on-screen reminders of upcoming or related shows of interest to individual users.
  • VoD and Catch-Up TV: By managing the VOD library in the cloud, mpx can allow TV operators to offer much larger video libraries across devices than on traditional TV systems. mpx can easily allow operators to promote popular content and back catalogues, and publish across devices. In addition, while linear channels are airing, mpx will soon enable media files and associated cue points for ads and associated metadata to be automatically saved and archived for VoD.
  • Enhanced Discovery and Personalisation: mpx allows operators to centralise metadata from providers such as TMS and Rovi, and create their own custom fields and queries. This centralisation enables better search capabilities, more dynamic guide navigation, and highly personalised viewing options. mpx integrates with ThinkAnalytics’ leading content recommendation engine to incorporate contextual, behavioural, and social data, along with editorial promotions. mpx can also manage and surface metadata at an asset level (e.g. TV episode), guide level (e.g. show availability), and higher detailed information (e.g. series, actor, awards, etc.). This means mpx enables operators to create features such as “My TV,” which lets subscribers bookmark favourite shows, highlight programs they are known to like, and surface other programs they would likely enjoy.
  • Targeted Advertising: In addition to publishing national ads in linear feeds, mpx enables customers to insert dynamic ads based on operators’ needs, and delivers more Web-like and personalised advertising via key integrations with FreeWheel and BlackArrow.
  • Advanced Video Commerce: mpx also provides a comprehensive video commerce platform to manage digital storefront purchases, subscriptions, subscription extras, customer notifications, cross-promotional offers, and more. In addition, mpx lets operators configure new kinds of content bundles, season or series purchases. For example, at the conclusion of a movie, TV viewers could be prompted to purchase or rent its sequel or prequel.
  • Device and UI support: mpx provides unified distribution to portable devices, such as tablets and smartphones, and living room devices, including new RDK-enabled set-top boxes, game consoles, Smart TVs, and more. Customers can use thePlatform’s Player Development Kit (PDK) and App Dev Kit (ADK) to design and enable video playback across various devices. thePlatform is also tightly integrated with leading UI developer, Accedo, enabling operators to build custom and consistent UIs across IP-connected devices.
  • Policy Management and Content Protection: the Virtual TV Framework also provides the central enforcement system for managing content rights obligations between TV service providers and content owners (i.e. geo-restrictions, windows of availability, etc.). In addition, mpx supports digital rights management (DRM) capabilities from both Microsoft and Adobe.
  • Systems Integration: mpx’s open and robust APIs and SDKs provide operators the flexibility to work directly with thePlatform, as well as with Alcatel-Lucent, to develop and implement comprehensive upgrade plans for their networks.

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