Market Watch

Liberty Global Strikes Deal with thePlatform to Deliver Online Video Services

September 15, 2011

Irina Kornilova Irina Kornilova Manager – Research & Analysis, Broadband Media, IHS Markit
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Liberty Global has chosen Comcast subsidiary thePlatform to provide the backend video content management system (CMS) across its online video properties. Liberty Global will use thePlatform's online video solutions, providing access for its pay-TV subscriptions, starting this autumn with cable TV customers in the Netherlands.

The announcement, which sees access to TV shows and movies initially provided on computers, means Liberty global will use thePlatform's mpx for managing video on Liberty Global's web sites. Tablets and smartphones are expected to be added later.

Analysis
For thePlatform, the deal with Liberty Global is the company's largest deployment outside of North America - where it powers five of the top cable TV service providers, including Comcast, Cox Communications, Cablevision, Rogers Communications, and Time Warner Cable - and marks a significant international expansion for the technology provider. thePlatform also powers Telstra's online content offer in Australia.

For Liberty Global, the move is set to be the operator's first major expansion into multi-screen service provision beyond its part-owned subsidiary Telenet, in Belgium, which launched its multiscreen play 'Yelo' in 2010. Other pay-TV operators in Europe, typically led by the incumbent satellite providers, including BSkyB, Sky Deutschland, Viasat in the Nordics and CanalPlus in France have already launched multiscreen initiatives. As with many of these existing deployments, that from Liberty is best seen as a way for it to add value to existing pay-TV subscriptions than as a response to a competitive threat from any other pay-TV operator - Liberty's footprint only appreciably overlaps with a major OTT deployment in Germany.

That said, the deal with thePlatform should be seen as the first step in Liberty's multi-screen plans. The company's Horizon box - an integrated DVR-enabled set-top, DOCSIS modem, and transcoder for provisioning in-home IP devices with traditional TV, online and personal content - is presently in field trials and is expected to launch in Q1 2012 in the Netherlands, with launches by Cablecom Swizterland and Cablecom Germany expected to follow. With Horizon, online content is only one component of a far broader multiscreen proposition.

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