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A Buyers' Guide to Online Video Platforms

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thePlatform

Based in Seattle, thePlatform is the OVP of choice for major media and entertainment companies such as Comcast (which acquired thePlatform in 2006) and Time Warner Cable. It provides a hub for managing video content across multiple devices (such as home computers, set-top boxes, and tablets), focusing on the needs of major television service providers and individual networks (such as NBC Local Media and PBS) that need to syndicate their content to third-party sites.

thePlatform was launched in 2000. Its target customers tend to have either enormous video libraries that they’re bringing online or complex online distribution needs, such as geo-restrictions or multiple-rights restrictions. These customers need an OVP that can scale and can help them generate revenue through subscriptions, paid downloads, or advertising-based solutions.

Major product offerings from thePlatform include the mpx platform (launched on the company’s 10th anniversary), a cloud-based video management system that can centrally control all of a company’s video syndication. It replaced the previous mps system. thePlatform launched its Player Development Kit in 2009, letting customers create branded video players that include sharing features without need of an outside development team.

Magnify doesn’t just let you show your videos; it lets you curate videos from a large pool of content (including almost everything on YouTube). It solves the problem of producing content for sites that want to show premium video but don’t have the resources to make it—or make enough of it. Using Magnify, sites are able to select and show relevant videos from multiple sources. Content comes from 22 sites, which also include College Humor, Daily Motion, and Metacafe.

Magnify began more than 4 years ago. Customers have found that presenting Magnify videos on their sites increases the engagement and time spent from their sites’ viewers. Customers are even able to show ads on those videos, creating revenue for their sites.

The company’s target customer is a mid-tier-to-large publisher or media company or a consumer brand that wants to drive engagement. It’s also a popular choice for nonprofits and other cause-based organizations.

Major offerings from Magnify include expanded photo and slide show features that debuted in March of this year and full support for streaming to Apple iOS devices, which launched early in 2010. In May 2010, Magnify began offering sponsored playlists, which give advertisers the option of selecting all the videos in a playlist as a supplement to a customer’s site. Sponsored playlists can carry additional advertising, branded images, or calls to action.

KickApps

Like Kyte, KickApps is a recent acquisition of KIT Digital. It’s not exactly an OVP, or rather it’s not just an OVP. Its focus is on helping companies build and deploy social websites. That could mean anything from a full social site to the creation of a custom-branded player. By using KickApps, customers can build multiple experiences that are all powered from the same database and create consistent experiences across a variety of sites. 

As part of the acquisition, KickApps is being consolidated into KIT Digital. The brand will disappear around the third quarter of this year. The platform will still be around, though, just as a part of a larger KIT Digital suite.

KickApps launched back in 2005 with the goal of helping large enterprises improve interactions with customers by adding social functionality. It serves leading media and entertainment companies and enterprises.

The company began offering its social CMS system when it launched in 2005. It’s been through several versions, with the 5.0 version released in January 2010. Also that year, KickApps launched a web-based application development platform, letting customers create custom video players, widgets, and other Flash experiences with a drag-and-drop interface. In October 2010, it began offering Facebook publishing, letting customers create experiences on their Facebook sites.

Sorenson 360

Sorenson Media is so well-known for its encoding software that some still might not know that it has an OVP: Sorenson 360. As a relatively new entrant, Sorenson is making a name for itself by supporting a variety of formats and offering its own approval process. Not surprisingly, it integrates well with Sorenson Squeeze as part of a larger workflow. While the OVP offers three tiers, each one has the same base features. The only things that change are the bandwidth, storage, and number of users.

Sorenson 360 launched in May 2009. It’s an off-the-shelf solution that users can have up and running immediately. At the same time, its APIs let customers shape it to fit their workflows. It’s built with a modular design, making it flexible.

Target customers are anyone working with online video daily. The product is big with video producers and post houses, as well as education, media and entertainment, and enterprise customers. It’s used in a variety of verticals by companies that range in size.

In late 2009, 360 began offering templates and controls that let customers design their own customized Flash player. Early the next year, it expanded the range of formats it supports.

RealGravity

For customers that find getting videos more of a problem than getting an online host, RealGravity could be the right choice. This company offers OVP- like tools connected to a library of more than 600,000 videos. Thanks to content deals created by RealGravity, the company has a large library of videos to offer its customers.

The system is built for those who distribute content to partner sites, showing most of their videos on sites they don’t own. It lets partners log in and manage their own accounts. The content owner and the partner then split the revenue from the streamed videos. This partner system lets sites that don’t have a lot of money enjoy a library of premium videos.

RealGravity launched on Jan. 1, 2009. The focus has been on allowing people who create niche video syndication sites to easily manage their entire networks. Target customers include brands or ad networks that need to deploy content across a network of sites. Some customers have their own content, and some rely on the RealGravity library.

When RealGravity first launched, it was a simpler version of the product. Customers used embed codes to show the desired content. The next version, in the fall of 2010, gave more control over how videos displayed on the page. It also established the format of an OVP connected to a content library. The third version added ad server integration, letting customers easily sell their unsold inventory.

This article first ran in the August/September 2011 issue of Streaming Media. 

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