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MediaPlatform PrimeTime Review: A Sleek Enterprise YouTube

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MediaPlatform’s PrimeTime is an enterprise YouTube product. After spending a week or so building my own enterprise YouTube, here are my impressions.

PrimeTime is sleek and modern looking, much better looking than other products that I’ve tested. It’s also built on Flash, which means equivalent functionality on Mac and Windows, an advantage over most Silverlight-based systems that I’ve tested. It also means longer-term stability, another advantage over Silverlight-based systems now having to scurry to HTML5 or some other platform as Silverlight slowly fades.

Figure 1. The Streaming Learning Center PrimeTime portal.

PrimeTime offers fewer user-configurable options than other products that I’ve tested. As an example, with other products, if you want to add social media links to a public video, you click a checkbox. With PrimeTime, social media support can only be added through template customization performed by MediaPlatform. Similarly, other products allow you to customize the appearance of the individual channels; with MediaPlatform, it’s another customization. The silver lining in this dark cloud is that because of the relative lack of customizability, the system is relatively free of control clutter, and has a very clean, unintimidating interface.

Of course, unintimidating doesn’t automatically equal intuitive, and I found several surprising rough edges. Most notable is that the Assets bin is accessed from the menu item Settings, rather than a unique Media or Assets menu item. Why would you look for assets in Settings? You also can’t upload a video from the Assets window (once you find it); you can only access this function from a separate menu item called Create.

These aren’t tragic, of course, but combined they cost me 10-15 minutes in getting-up-to-speed time that I would have rather not spent (“where were those assets again?”). Not a huge deal, but if you multiply this by 50 administrators in a large installation, or 200 managers, the numbers can get onerous. MediaPlatform should address issues like these in the next release.

Overall, these grumbles aside, PrimeTime is capable, likable, and as you’ll discover in the review, quite agile, particularly related to the delivery of media, which is obviously the entire point. If you’re considering a corporate YouTube, I would definitely put PrimeTime on my short list.

Okay, that’s the overview. Let’s jump into the nitty-gritty, starting with pricing.

Pricing and Feature Set

Product pricing is variable based upon multiple factors. The base cost is $15,000, but if you purchase PrimeTime with MediaPlatform’s webinar product, WebCaster, which also lists for $15,000, you can buy both for $25,000. From there, you pay between $2.00 and $12.00 per video consumer per year depending upon the number of viewers and your commitment level.

PrimeTime can be installed in the cloud, on-premise or in hybrid mode with some components in the cloud, and some on-prem. Installation costs vary from around $1,400 for a simple cloud install to as much as $32,000 for a complicated on-premise install. Integration with existing portals and login schemas is extra and costs $3,000 - $6,000.  

To a degree, system features will depend upon whether you purchase the product standalone, or in conjunction with WebCaster, which I reviewed and found very capable. For example, all testing and certification features are in WebCaster, not in PrimeTime; ditto for live event distribution. As with all enterprise YouTube purchases, you should start with a detailed list of requirements before you go shopping, and then make sure that the products you’re considering match the required spec.

Product Overview

Like most enterprise YouTubes, PrimeTime is built around the concepts of channels and users. Channels create categories of content and define how that content is presented within the PrimeTime portal. Users determine which users can view which channels and their rights to view, upload, moderate, and edit content, manage channels, and view analytics.

As you can see on the left in Figure 2, there are two kinds of channels; System and User. System channels can be public or private, as you can see in the (public) designation next to multiple channels in the Figure. User channels are private to each user, and content uploaded to user channels doesn’t appear in the system channels, though user content can be found via search and embedded into web pages. In essence, User channels allow all users to participate in the system without clogging up the system channels with ancillary content.

In the Assets window on the right in Figure 2, you can see the Featured column heading. Videos checked here are featured on the portal home page, both cycling through the video window on top of Figure 1, and in the Featured channel beneath it.

Figure 2. Channels and assets.

OK, that’s channels, now let’s look at users. Most large enterprises will add and administrate users in their own login system, and have these credentials automatically transferred over to PrimeTime. This means that few enterprise users will actually add users through the PrimeTime interface. If you do, you’ll find the procedure a bit awkward, as shown in Figure 3. Specifically, you add the user, complete with user name, password, department and role, with no way within the system to send this information to the new user; you have to send it in a separate email. Other systems let you add the user, select the role, and then email an invitation to the user who can then login and create their own password, saving everyone some extra steps.

Figure 3. Adding a user to the system was a bit awkward.

Figure 4 shows how roles are manually assigned to various users. Basically, there are five functions defined in the column headings; content management, report viewing, channel management, channel visibility (hidden by the drop down menu) and content creation, which are assigned on a channel by channel basis. Note the content creation options on the bottom of Figure 4, including the Approval Required checkbox, which triggers the content-moderation function.

Figure 4. Roles define capabilities within a channel or channels.

When configuring roles, you can use the predefined roles shown in the drop down menu, edit them, or create your own. Again, if users log into PrimeTime via the corporate portal, their rights respecting the various channels will be assigned via that login, not in the Roles configuration.

Content Creation Workflow

Uploading content is straightforward. As you can see in the tabs along the top of Figure 5, you can input video from multiple sources, including by uploading, webcam capture, from an embed code or URL or from a Webcaster URL. Once you identify the source, you choose the name, add a description and tags, and choose to enable/disable ratings and comments. Continuing along with the options shown on the bottom of Figure 5, hidden files aren’t searchable or browsable, and can only be accessed by providing the direct URL or by embedding the asset in a webpage. Inactive assets are in the system, but aren’t searchable or otherwise viewable.

Figure 5.  Here are the file creation options.

On the upper right of Figure 5, you choose the encoding templates to be applied to the file, with the checked templates the default templates designated by the administrator. Here I’m uploading as an administrator; users with lower credentials like managers would not see this option. After choosing the templates, you choose a channel or channels for the video. Then, you can choose to add attachments or URL links to any video file, a nice feature that would let you distribute a presentation file with the video, or point the viewer to a web page for additional details or information. 

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