Market Watch

Alcatel-Lucent and thePlatform Multiscreen Partnership

June 16, 2011

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Online video management company thePlatform has announced a non-exclusive partnership with Alcatel-Lucent aimed at cable and IPTV operators.

The partners are coming to market with a modular solution that combines three core elements. First, a management tool - thePlatform's mpx - which can be provided in both 'cloud-based' and self-hosted versions. Second, an operator-deployable content delivery network (CDN), based on Alcatel-Lucent's Velocix. Third, customisable multiscreen applications for tablets, PCs and mobiles.

This non-exclusive agreement allows each company to jointly bid for multiscreen video deployments but is understood to include no penalties if either side decides to bid for business in conjunction with a third party.

thePlatform is a subsidiary of cable TV operator Comcast, having been acquired in 2006.

At first glance both companies will benefit from the deal, with Alcatel-Lucent adding additional features to its service that will help its clients who have struggled to monetise the huge growth in online and mobile video. thePlatform will benefit from an increase of sales as Alcatel-Lucent jointly sells the partnership's solutions to a larger number and geographical base of clients than thePlatform has historically been able to achieve. However, the deal is not exclusive, so its long term benefits to both sides are far from certain.

Nevertheless the partnership provides a good opportunity to assess the strategy behind the technology, specifically the benefits that mpx and Velocix bring to cable and IPTV operators that are looking to deploy multiscreen services.

The fact is that neither cable nor IPTV networks are currently optimised for delivering increasingly large amounts of IP video.  The Velocix operator-deployable CDN should help with this by providing operators the ability to serve better quality video, reduce delivery costs, and increase the amount of control over video streams. When deployed within an operator's footprint, Velocix renders delivery more robust, through the use of adaptive streaming, intelligent routing, and content caching near the network edge. Moreover, provided its network reach is sufficiently large, deploying Velocix may potentially also allow an operator to join the multiscreen value chain, by offering carriage and CDN-like services to third party content providers.

The mpx system allows operators to track rights, implement business plans and manage subscribers, in a way that integrates with other existing broadcast systems. These elements already exist in one form or another on the market, but by combing this functionality within an integrated distribution solution, operators will gain much more control over their multiscreen service.

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