OTT Approach to VOD Gains another Adherent

Keith Kirkman, president, Orbitel

Keith Kirkman, president, Orbitel

October 10, 2011 – The case for taking an OTT out-sourced approach to launching VOD services continues to grow for smaller operators, offering them an opportunity to leapfrog the traditional approach in favor of one that extends on-demand flexibility and features to next-generation levels of service.
The latest company to take advantage of a video service management platform developed by Clearleap to support such an initiative is Orbitel Communications, an independent cable operator in Maricopa, Arizona, a relatively new community about 20 miles outside of Phoenix. Going from scratch in 2001 to a subscriber base of 16,000 customers, the company has decided the time has come to offer VOD, says Orbitel president Keith Kirkman.

“Cable is moving from a surf to a search environment,” Kirkman says. “We’re in a new competitive race that requires new approaches.”

Oribtel is implementing an authentication and streaming service from Clearleap that will allow the company to integrate third-party over-the-top video on demand, such as Netflix, as well as local content onto multiple devices, including media players, game consoles, connected TVs, hybrid set-tops and tablets. “The great advantage to the Clearleap solution is that they give us access to unlimited VOD content in the cloud,” Kirkman says.

With just three rack units required to support the service, it takes four to six weeks to launch compared to a 12 – to 20-week launch phase for traditional VOD, he says. “And then our customers have access to 20,000 plus hours of content compared to 3,000 hours with VOD,” he adds.

The IP-based service is ideal for connecting users to the operator’s branded content via IP devices but requires a separate IP set-top to allow access from traditional TV sets. But, with self-installation eliminating the need for truck rolls it’s a small price to pay for the benefits, Kirkman says.

The hosted platform also facilitates adding ever more local content and time-shifted linear content to the on-demand offering. “We want to cement our customers’ relationship with the linear environment by putting linear product on VOD,” he says.

Such benefits are proving advantageous to larger operators as well. Verizon, for example, is deploying the Clearleap platform to facilitate ingestion and provisioning of local and niche sports content, including so-called hyper-local content such as news, traffic and weather. “Clearleap’s platform allows us to create more compelling local content while dramatically increasing the speed and reducing costs for quickly getting that content into customers’ homes,” says Tricia Lynch, director of content strategy and acquisition for Verizon.

Mediacom Communications, the nation’s seventh largest MSO, is making use of the hosted service for managing advertising assets in VOD and linear channels to give local advertisers greater reach, precision and faster time to market. And, like Orbitel and Verizon, Mediacom is using Clearleap to expand its ability to quickly deliver more local and special interest programming across the 1,400 communities it serves.

In a move meant to help operators reduce the need for IP set-tops, Clearleap in August announced a deal with LG Electronics that will allow TV operators to deliver programming over broadband networks directly to the LG Smart TV platform. The joint solution provides television service providers a quick and efficient way to deliver content and new services to pay TV subscribers while saving money on capital expenditures, says analyst Will Richmond.

“The big advantage to pay-TV operators of these deals is that they can serve subscribers without expensive set-top boxes and truck rolls,” Richmond says in a recent edition of his VideoNuze blog. “Services can also be extended to rooms in homes that didn’t traditionally have pay-TV service, increasing the value of the underlying subscription.”