PxPixel
ThePlatform Gets A Makeover - Broadcasting & Cable

ThePlatform Gets A Makeover

Unveils new user interface, back-end tools for online video customers
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Online
video specialist and Comcast subsidiary thePlatform is celebrating its 10th
anniversary by releasing an updated version of its popular media publishing
system (mps), which is used by major programmers and cable operators including
Fox Sports, PBS, Style Network, Travel Channel, AP, Rogers, Comcast,
Cablevision and Time Warner Cable.

mpx_Screenshot_Media_Preview

The
new "mpx Beta" system, which has been several years in development, includes a
revamped user interface, or "console", for professional producers of online
video and new personalization and automation features designed to make it
easier to deliver Web video to various devices and customers. It is being
launched with a complementary software development kit that will allow
third-party integration, and is based on a new service-oriented architecture
(SOA) that allows thePlatform to separate different functions, such as content
ingest, and scale them based on customer demands.

The
new system aims to address the current explosion in online video by helping
programmers handle a much larger amount of content, and prepare it for multiple
outlets with a minimal amount of manual intervention, says thePlatform CEO Ian
Blaine.

"We
see more opportunities than ever right now if you're a content owner," says
Blaine. "There are more places, and more devices, to go to with your content.
But there's also a lot of complexity." 

Some
of thePlatform customers have as many as 140,000 video clips to manage today,
says VP of marketing Marty Roberts, and a typical large programmer might need
to deliver online video in as many as 20 different formats. So the new user
console that comes with mpx Beta is designed to handle that larger scale. The
console's three-pane navigation has new filter and search features; can be
personalized to address different users, such as a Web video producer versus a
mobile video specialist; and has a more robust "details" pane to accept the
reams of metadata required to manage assets in multiple formats.

One
of the most significant new features in mpx Beta is the inclusion of "smart
publish profiles," which essentially reverse-engineer the traditionally linear
video publishing process by considering the end destination for the video first
and setting up a number of parameters regarding file format, business rules,
etc. The mpx Beta system can consider the requirements of the intended customer
or device---such as Apple's forthcoming iPad, for example---and automate the
required steps for video management including file creation, transcoding,
thumbnail generation and more.

"If
you know where the content is going to go, you can save steps," says Roberts.

The
mpx Beta system, which is being provided to existing thePlatform customers at
no additional charge, will be used this week by some early adopters to delivery
online video. But it is not yet a complete product-hence the "Beta" moniker. It
is still being refined to include some administrative features from the
original mps system. Customers have a choice of using either system, and any
media objects added, changed, or managed in the legacy mps system will
seamlessly be reflected in mpx Beta. Additional features and capabilities will
be added to mpx Beta throughout the year.

As
a veteran of the online video market, Blaine knows it is impossible to
correctly predict all the changes that will come in the next decade. That is
why the mpx Beta system will gradually evolve to keep up with customers'
changing needs.

"We're
building a technology that futureproofs you in some way," he says. "It doesn't
suppose that we know everything, it supposes that the market is going to change."

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