Turning on the cash stream

Digital Island believes new service will facilitate monetization of streaming

Digital Island is well-known for its streaming-content delivery network, but its new suite of services may redefine the company's relationship with customers. Dubbed 2Way Web Service, the system is intended to expand the company's offerings and give customers a system that provides rights management, e-commerce and delivery-related functions on one platform.

"A lot of our customers are faced with a multi-vendor, confusing equation," says Chief Media Officer Adam Cohen. Streaming "starts with the network and the ability to deliver content. But it includes a lot of different areas and technologies."

Digital Island's goal with 2Way Web Service is to make it easier for companies to monetize streaming content.

The system consists of four main services: digital rights management, digital media commerce, content management and geographic intelligence. A common graphical user interface (GUI) provides access to seven modules at the heart of the four services: PPV, transfer, publishing, a custom player module, ad insertion, geographical intelligence and media copy (all the disk operating system functions). Each module can be accessed individually for a monthly fee of $500 to $1,500 per module. Customers will be able to turn them on through a Web interface as needed.

Cohen says the reason for the modular approach is that the company didn't want to presuppose who handles the services for the customer. "Making them modular allows the customer to make those decisions internally."

He believes customers will respond to the new GUI. The modules are all available on the desktop, and employees in an IT department will be able to monitor what is occurring across the entire system. It also allows smaller IT departments to handle larger work loads more easily.

The timing of the offering is important, with Hollywood studios about to start VOD trials via the Internet. One challenge Cohen says faces streaming providers as they move to pay a business model is that users' expectations increase dramatically the minute they're paying for something.

The new system also addresses the top concern for content owners: protecting content. Digital Island already does a lot of work with Windows Media 7 in digital rights management. Now the company will also be working with RealNetworks. Digital Island is the first provider to license RealNetworks' RealSystem Media Commerce Suite and thus to be able to offer rights management based on RealSystem iQ.