thePlatform's TV Everywhere suite aims at operator flexibility, value added options


Whether cord cutting and cord shaving is myth or reality is a matter of debate, but there's little doubt that the best way to limit subscriber losses-which have plagued cable operators for the past three years--is to offer subscribers a great package of content with easy access from any device.

That's a prime reason thePlatfom is rolling out a new set of tools for operators and content owners that allow them to test and adjust content packages on the fly for delivery to devices like Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad and Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Xbox.

"When we talk to operators about it their reactions run the gamut from denial to paranoia. But we all agree the best way to prevent it is to add more value to the packages they have," Marty Roberts, thePlatform's SVP of sales and marketing told FierceOnlineVideo. "The cool thing about this is you don't have to go procure more content; you just have to change how you package it to users."

"This" is a new suite of features for the online video platform's mpx video publishing system, which enables operators to create new and highly tailored content packages and promotions.

Operators can create subscription packages online that include collections of content that mirror their basic, extended or premium channel TV line ups, all viewable on devices beyond TVs and defined by the operator.

The dynamically created, highly customized extras or subgroups of content can draw from much larger content catalogs than might currently be available on linear TV or video-on-demand catalogs, in order to be viewed on tablets, PCs or other IP-connected devices.

It potentially unlocks a lot of power for operators, allowing them to refine subscriber groups, and segment them based on operator-defined filters that could include factors like paid TV subscription package, geography, acceptable content rating, device type, content viewing preferences and more. It also allows subscribers to belong to multiple subscriber groups.

A family that subscribes to a premium package of children's programming, for instance, could receive an extra bundle of free, online content, like all the past episodes of a show, that can be watched on tablets of game consoles. History buffs likewise could receive "bonus" material online.

Roberts said operators can configure groups and packages "in a matter of minutes." And, he said, using metadata, it could be focused to individual users. Teens, for example, could get a deep queue of films in the horror genre, while carrying less than an R rating.

Of course, one of the prime groups an operator could target would be sports aficionados.

"An operator might not have rights to stream an event live, but they may have other content that they can send to a second screen and add value for the customers," Roberts said. That's especially critical as sports programming costs continue to rise.

And, Roberts said, they can test offerings virtually on the fly.

"We're starting to see more of our customers add additional video channels to their sites," Roberts said. "The good news is that there's lots of content becoming available... but there's complexity that comes along with that."

Operators and content owners are starting to see a shift in the way customers interact with them; they've become users with profiles and definable interests. And, that, Roberts said, changes the business and allows them to do a better job responding to customer desires, hopefully giving them a new tool with which to reduce subscriber loss.

The Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) subsidiary said the new suite is currently being tested with two operators in North America; it will see a general launch later this spring.--Jim