Imagine rolls out cloud-based DVR, dynamic ad insertion

Multiscreen solutions provider Imagine Communications, a historically broadcast-focused provider, is taking a more holistic view of the IP video ecosystem, launching two components on its new CloudXtream platform: cloud DVR capability, and dynamic ad insertion. The services could be a value-add for emerging linear OTT providers like Sling TV, Sony, and Apple TV's rumored linear service, the company says.

CloudXtream cDVR and CloudXtream Dynamic Ad Insertion are the first two components available for the modular platform, the company said in a release.

Offering cloud DVR capabilities could be a boon to traditional media and entertainment providers and newer online video providers alike.

"I see many distributors wanting to do this," Glenn LeBrun, VP of product marketing for Imagine, told FierceOnlineVideo. Besides major MSOs like Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), large broadcasters are showing interest, he noted, especially as they boost their multiscreen offerings. "CBS All Access is an example… If you get up during a program to grab a beer or a snack from the fridge, you can't pause and restart it."

Adding a cloud DVR capability would enable a time shifting element that All Access and Sling TV don't yet have--probably more due to content licensing restrictions than to the technology being unavailable.

Still, the cloud-based DVR gives providers and distributors "the ability to marry live linear and VOD together," LeBrun said.

But it's the dynamic ad insertion (DAI) piece of the CloudXtream puzzle that Imagine is really banking on. The company hopes to solve problems that plague some ad-supported streaming services: serving ads that are fresh and relevant, in a way that's less obtrusive to viewers.

"(DAI) allows you to look at the content (using markers or other technology), and look for an appropriate break. We grab an ad that's fresh and insert it in lieu of the stale ad," LeBrun said.

It's not just consumer frustration that Imagine is looking to resolve; older ads don't generate much revenue, LeBrun explained. For example, ads under a traditional broadcaster's C3 agreement must be shown within three days of a specific TV show's air date. While that isn't the only type of advertising agreement available, online video distributors aren't always able to take advantage of the most lucrative advertising deals--instead airing older ads repeatedly.

Not only would DAI help online providers and distributors better monetize their content, it can also potentially gather much more analytics data, LeBrun said, noting that customers can optimize their ad content based on user demographics, buying behavior or other data.

"I see these online providers who are rich with the science of how they create and distribute it, rich with creating  a predictable way to advertise and how to do it," LeBrun said. "They will be able to monetize (content) in a better, cheaper, faster, higher value way."

For more:
- see the release

Related articles:
Imagine, Microsoft unveil cloud-based workflow and encoding solution
Imagine buys RGB Networks, adding dynamic ad insertion to OTT, TV Everywhere offerings
Aereo throws itself on the barbed-wire barricades of legacy TV
FCC officially proposes pay-TV status for linear OTT services

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