How Comcast helped Time launch its first multi-platform AVOD service

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Comcast recently launched its new Comcast Technology Solutions division and simultaneously helped unveil work it did with a large customer to launch a new multi-platform video-on-demand service.

Matt McConnell, senior vice president and general manager for Comcast Technology Solutions, the company’s recently formed division that combines Comcast Wholesale, thePlatform and This Technology, said that Time approached Comcast about wanting to build out its video capabilities and offerings.

For Time Inc.’s People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN), which is the media company’s first foray into direct-to-consumer video offerings, Comcast Technology Solutions worked for six months to build the advertising-supported VOD and add a commerce module. Comcast also tapped one of its partners, PerfectSense Digital, to help with the UI/UX work.

PEN launched on Sept. 14 and runs over Comcast’s network. The VOD offers original daily live programming along with an on-demand catalog. The service was designed as an “always on” experience “meaning when viewers access PEN they are instantly immersed in streaming programming in the same manner as tuning in to a broadcast or cable channel,” according to Comcast.

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McConnell said much of the development time in between inception and launch for PEN, given that it was Time’s first AVOD launch, was spent on the multiple platform approach. When thinking about Roku versus Apple versus Android, McConnell said there’s a lot of nuance.

McConnell also said that tying everything to the backend system is a unique process on a per customer basis. But once those hooks are established into a customer’s infrastructure, McConnell said future product launches should move faster.

Though PEN is an ad-supported model, McConnell said Time can decide to shift toward a subscription-based model later. Comcast Technology Solutions is able to build for AVOD, SVOD or transactional models.

The work Comcast did for PEN coincides with the company’s rebranding of its broadcast and digital video solutions.

“As the world is changing to solutions like this and our customers our changing, we looked across the asset set that we possess and solutions we can provide and saw a great way to bring them out together,” said McConnell.

Having multiple solutions under one division makes Comcast Technology Solutions more of an end-to-end service for media companies looking to launch comprehensive and cohesive multiplatform VOD services. But McConnell said that Comcast has been offering the services within Comcast Technology Solutions for years.

“We’re starting to see the tipping point in the industry where broadcast and digital are really coming together,” said McConnell.