That’s because as Web video has flourished, so have the number of companies providing the tools to deliver video across the Internet. Large media companies and individual video bloggers can now choose from among multiple firms when looking for a Web video product. Many of the technology providers are quite similar and anyone in the market for an Web video platform should kick the tires and try out the ones that seem like the best fit. Most offer five core services:
Content management: The process of ingesting content, moving it around, converting to different files and organizing video properly before it goes online.
Programming and publishing: The presentation of the video on the Web site, including the player and the playlists.
Distribution: Delivering the video across the Web, to either the main site or to distribution channels and portals.
Monetization: Making money off the video, by integrating advertising or offering video on a download or pay-per-view basis.
Reporting: Providing analysis and reports on number of views, length of views and other similar data.
What follows is a quick look at some the major Web video platforms. This list is growing and evolving, so if you know of a platform that may merit inclusion, contact us at [email protected].
Brightcove has one of the highest profiles of the Web video platforms and is betting on its leadership position to make it stand out. It serves a range of clients from the Discovery cable network and CBS’s broadcast network to small, niche Web sites.
Clients can put content into the Brightcove system either via the Web or by using a desktop program that uploads material automatically from an existing digital asset management system, the sophisticated software that helps organize and keep track of video assets. Brightcove also provides tools to manage metadata, which helps Web browsers find material during user searchs, and to tag, sort and organize content.
On the programming side, Brightcove provides video player templates that developers can customize by size, shape and the page on which they appear. Players can also be completely customized.
To distribute video, Brightcove provides tools to let clients virally share clips on blogs or other sites, and to syndicate to affiliate networks they create. In addition, Brightcove offers social media tools to let Web users remix and mash up content.
Brightcove provides the tools for clients to rely on either advertising, such as pre-and post-roll spots, or paid downloads. The service integrates with Web analytics firms and provides reports to clients on usage of video.
Brightcove’s revenue is based on license fees and usage. Clients usually pay a set-up fee,monthly charges based on usage, and an annual license fee.
Extend Media concentrates primarily on creating Web video storefronts, a la iTunes, where users can buy content. Customers include Showtime Networks and Wal-Mart.
Extend handles transcoding of files, meaning its converts video from the original file into whatever format is needed for use on a mobile phone, media device, or PC. It also supports digital rights management, which means clients can set the rules for where and how their content can be played or downloaded. It also publishes content into the stores it creates and develops the accompanying player and playlist. Customers can customize the appearance of the player any way they like.
Extend also interfaces with other Web video platforms if customers need or want to use portions of another service, said Keith Kocho, CEO of Extend Media.
On the monetization side, Extend supports downloading, streaming, subscription, free couponing, download-to-own, rental purchases and subscriptions. It is also introducing ad models this fall.
Extend provides reports on usage, downloads, customer interaction and other areas, and supports data reporting services like Omniture. Extend offers a variety of pricing including a set-up fee and monthly usage charge. Depending on the solution they opt for, some clients may pay a license fee and a maintenance fee.
Magnify.net is one of the newest platform providers. The service specifically targets niches, communities and enthusiast groups. Within those areas, Magnify has focused on giving users a way to discover video on the Web and post it to their site.
If an individual is building a Web site about places to visit in Seattle, for instance, Magnify will comb the Web and bring in copyright-cleared video from other sites, such as YouTube and Break, to feature in that channel, said Steve Rosenbaum, CEO of Magnify.
Magnify also provides a base level of standard features such as uploading, encoding, posting, delivering and aggregating videos. Magnify offers a widget for other sites to embed, but distribution of video to other sites is not a key feature. In September, Magnify launched an advertising network to pair videos with ads and shares the revenue 50-50 with clients.
Magnify also provides a free package of analytics and reports on metrics such as page views, unique viewers and video views. Magnify.net’s primary offering is free, with clients given 50 percent of all the page inventory on their Magnify.net site to sell via their own ad networks or a Google AdSense account. For clients with specific needs, such as page template adjustments, increased support or storage beyond the base level, Magnify offers a service contract negotiated on a per client basis.
Maven Networks targets its technology to major media companies and counts clients such as Fox News, Scripps Networks, Hearst and TV Guide.
One of Maven’s competitive differentiators is its ability to distribute not just video but the player itself as part of the syndication process, said Kristin Fergason, VP of marketing at Maven. That’s critical because syndication to multiple sites generates more impressions, which in turn generates more ad revenue. Fox News, for instance, can push its video from a single system to many of its affiliate sites through syndication, for instance letting a local station pick up a national news story via Maven.
Maven integrates with existing video asset management systems, Web site content management systems and video content systems. Maven also transcodes video. The publishing tools allow clients to create playlists and build players, including a home-page player and smaller players for additional pages. Clients can customize the player or use a template. Maven’s system also includes workflow tools so designers and developers can track different versions of a project.
On the distribution front, Maven’s clients usually establish their own networks and Maven handles the dispersal of that content. In addition, Maven provides 80 reports, such as how long consumers watch, most popular videos, most viewed videos and how content is used virally.
Maven’s technology allows customers to match video to pre-and post-roll ads, and in October began testing interactive Web video ads with several clients. The system also includes forecasting and inventory management tools to help clients determine when to insert ads and when an ad has been shown too frequently. Maven’s pricing starts at $5,000 per month for a one-year commitment, which includes 500,000 video plays per month. Fees scale up depending on usage.
Multicast Media Technologies
Multicast Media Technologies focuses on serving small- to medium-sized businesses. Clients include Realtor.com, Baby Universe and Autotrader.com and others. Multicast bills itself as a private label solution for clients and operates as a behind-the-scenes technology provider. As such, Multicast does not brand its video player, but rather lets clients do their own branding.
Multicast lets clients customize the video player from 130 different options, said Jim Byrne, VP of product and strategy for the company. That includes the size, shape, color, as well as graphics.
Clients can also use the Multicast technology to syndicate videos to sites they choose. “Our customers want to have full control. So we syndicate to where they tell us to syndicate to,” Byrne said. The platform also includes social media tools, such as the ability to e-mail a video to a friend or to embed the link.
Multicast has relationships with advertising-technology firms like DoubleClick and Lightningcast to support ads for clients. Multicast does not sell ads, nor does it take a revenue share. The company is paid solely on a license fee basis for bandwidth, licensing and storage.
Most clients pay a little less than $1,500 a month in license fees. Multicast counts nearly 1,500 clients.
Multicast also includes reporting tools for clients and can provide detailed data on popular videos, geographic penetration and other areas.
Narrowstep has carved out a niche based on its international presence. The company has targeted and won business with a number of international telecommunication companies such as Telefonica, Virgin Media and Telewest.
In addition to its global client base, Narrowstep operates its own content delivery network, or CDN. That’s the behind-the-scenes infrastructure that delivers video across the Internet.
Operating a CDN has enabled Narrowstep to win some of its global clients, said Trevor Sumner, director of product marketing and field operations marketing. Other clients include William Morris and Outdoor Channel.
On the content management side, Narrowstep encodes at up to eight different bit rates and can serve video at the appropriate rate based on the speed of the connection. Narrowstep can help optimize video for search engines and include metadata to make the video easier to find.
Narrowstep offers embedded video players, standard template players and customized players. The service also distributes content to video portals, RSS (real simple syndication) feeds, and to Google, Yahoo, AOL and others when the content owner has distribution relationships with those portals.
Monetization features include geographic targeting of ads, digital rights management, subscription models, pay-per-view, download-to-own, download-to-rent, sponsorship and ads, or any combination of those.
Reports include viewing times, completion rates, number of viewers, most popular programs and others. The pricing is customized on a case by case basis depending on the customer’s needs. Generally, the pricing starts at about $200,000 a year and goes up from there.
Permission TV said its special sauce lies in creating interactive video experiences with social media and community features such as comment functions. That also includes the ability, for instance, to insert a call-to-action message in the middle of a video.
Content management tools let customers publish video and associated metadata on their site or others. Permission TV integrates with existing content management systems. For instance, home improvement whiz Bob Vila’s site connects its existing system for text, pictures and video into Permission TV. In November, Permission TV plans to roll out a transcoding service to upload and convert files to different formats.
Permission TV provides toolkits so customers can create tailored video players and playlists. Clients can use Permission TV to distribute videos to their own syndication networks.
Monetization options range from ad-supported strategies, including linking into ad serving systems such as 24/7 and DoubleClick, as well as subscription, pay-per-view and download models.
The company integrates with Web analytical firms and provides reports on usage. Other clients include HereTV and Toyota.
Permission TV has a set-up fee that varies based on complexity, and a monthly software subscription fee in the thousands of dollars, depending on the customer’s needs and size.
The Platform said its key differentiator lies in providing tools to integrate with other technologies.
“We have taken a pretty open approach to working with third parties, such as integrating with ad network and ad servers, said Ian Blaine, CEO of the company, which is owned by Comcast.
On the content management side, The Platform ingests content, manages the files, formats them into Quicktime, Flash, Windows or other formats and manages the metadata.
The Platform also integrates with content delivery networks to publish files to other sites. The player development kit lets customers create their own player using a simple Flash tool. Customers can use a dynamic template, letting them customize many of the options.
ThePlatform’s customers include NBC Universal-News Corp.'s Hulu, BBC, CNBC, CBS' College Sports TV, Comcast, Hearst and others. The Platform places the content on the content owner’s site and out on other popular destinations such as MSN, Yahoo, Comcast and YouTube, monetizing video by integrating with ad serving networks such as Double Click, 24/7 and Lightningcast, and video ad networks such as Adap.tv. In addition to ads, The Platform supports pay-per-view, pay-per-download and other models.
Reports cover media consumption, time, geography, popular videos and other areas.
Roo operates as both an online TV platform, providing the technology to deliver Web video, and as an aggregator of video from publishers such as Reuters, NYPost.com and Fox Television Stations. Clients often use a combination of their own content and Roo’s.
The content network also gives Roo clients an existing distribution network because not only can they carry videos from those sites, they can also syndicate videos to those sites.
The company’s content management tools link to existing content management systems, said Bert Solivan, EVP and general manger for U.S. business operations. That’s critical because media companies don’t want to jettison software they have already invested in. Clients can also use parts of Roo’s system.
Roo converts video into the proper format and offers playlists and video players, both customized and templated. A key feature of Roo’s distribution strategy is using peer-to-peer technology because it owns a peer-to-peer network through its purchase of Wurld Media this summer. That technology saves time and lowers transmission costs.
The service offers several ways to monetize, such as via ads, branded players, ad overlays, pay-per-view and subscription. Roo links into existing Web analytics tools and reports on click through rates, ad views and other topics.
Clients are charged based on a usage or a consumption model. The larger the audience the client attracts, the greater the cost. This model allows for greater monetization via ad revenue.
WhiteBlox has targeted a range of companies including Hollywood studios, TV broadcasters and cable programmers. The company specializes in integrating live, multi-camera streams into interactive experiences.
WhiteBlox handles content management, protection and encoding on the front end, and also offers multiple options for players. The company’s key features lie in the interactive tools it builds into the programming, such as polling and tickers. WhiteBlox enables video-on-demand, pay-per-view, subscriptions, sponsorships, targeted and contextual ad insertion, and dynamic marketing and advertising campaigns.
The company provides reports on usage of the video channels.
Pricing for the WhiteBlox service ranges depending on the solution. The pricing includes set-up fees, player design, encoder and other items for the for first year, so pricing could potentially drop in subsequent years. Pricing also depends on bandwidth usage. An average turnkey solution costs about $38,000 a year on average, while custom solutions cost $75,000 or more per year.
By Daisy Whitney