AP Taps thePlatform for Web Syndication

Switches from Microsoft to Comcast unit to support Online Video Network.
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AP selected thePlatform, the Seattle-based Web-video-specialist firm owned by Comcast, to create a new version of its Web syndication effort, Online Video Network, which distributes AP's video content to more than 2,000 newspaper, broadcast and other media Web sites throughout the United States.

AP already started implementing thePlatform’s technology to replace the Microsoft system it was previously using, said Marty Roberts, vice president of marketing for thePlatform, and the enhanced version of Online Video Network should be completed by December.

One of the new features enabled by thePlatform will be the ability to create embedded video players that can be customized to AP affiliates’ preferences and used to show both AP video and local video of their own creation. The new player will also offer improved video quality.

AP's Online Video Network provides in-depth video reports tailored for Internet viewing covering major world events such as the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, the U.S. presidential campaign and the hurricanes that hit Haiti, Louisiana and Texas.

Brought to market in 2006, the network now reaches 61 million unduplicated unique visitors through its 2,100 affiliate sites.

"The new version of the network will make it easier for our affiliates to incorporate compelling news video on their Web sites," said Jane Seagrave, AP's senior VP of global product development, in a statement. "As video becomes the storytelling medium of choice on the Internet, we're improving the content, as well as the technical environment."

According to Roberts, thePlatform won the AP contract by meeting the news agency’s requirements for quick turnaround on breaking-news content, including the ability to transcode content and distribute it in the right format within 15 minutes. Other considerations were being able to handle’s AP’s complex business policies and licensing agreements with news organizations worldwide, as well as the sheer enormity of its customer base.

While thePlatform counts plenty of large programmers as customers, the scale of AP’s Online Video Network is impressive, Roberts said. By comparison, CNBC syndicates its video to about 12 partner Web sites, while Gannett reaches perhaps 40.

“This is a pretty unique offering in the market today,” Roberts added. “It’s the most aggressive B2B syndication effort online today.”

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