Why NBC is getting a better video player from Comcast

PDK 6 sprung up out of Comcast’s desire to build a better video player. (Comcast)

NBCUniversal is getting an improved HTML5 web-based video player soon thanks for Comcast Technology Solutions’ new Player Development Kit 6 (PDK 6).

NBC is in the process of launching PDK 6 across its video platforms including its news sites and its cable networks’ streaming platforms in the coming weeks.

“PDK 6 represents a fundamentally new direction for the Comcast Technology Solutions video player and is great example of strategic roadmap execution via co-development. The architectural approach really optimizes for performance and video start time …” said Ashish Desai, vice president of global media operations at NBCUniversal, in a statement.

Bart Spriester, vice president and general manager of video platforms for Comcast Technology Solutions, said PDK 6 sprung up out of Comcast’s desire to build a better video player.

“Players in general haven’t gotten a lot of love and attention in the past years,” Spriester said.

He said major enhancements include functions like segment ad breaks, but the big focus for Comcast was improving performance. PDK 6 is promising a 50% improvement in performance over current video players in use today.

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Spriester said the new video player is rolling out now because Comcast has received numerous requests from customers for faster to first frame of video, particularly for higher-frame rate videos.

“It’s a universal request from all our customers globally to get a faster load on video,” Spriester said.

To get concrete confirmation for PDK 6’s new performance standards, Spriester said many customers’ old time to first frame measurement tools were brought out.

“When I heard we were revving this thing, [customers] dusted off their old tools and we’ve had to do demonstrations of the code in the player for many customers,” Spriester said.

With the release of PDK 6, Comcast Technology Solutions has also issued APIs to all of its ecosystem partners in areas like analytics. Spriester said the new APIs are essentially the same as CTS’ old APIs, which should make it a lighter lift for any customers looking to trade up.

Comcast hasn’t announced any other customers for the video player besides NBC, but Spriester said that Comcast received a lot of interest in PDK 6 in meetings during the NAB Show this week.