With thePlatform’s launch of mpx Essentials, any mid-sized business or agency has access to a specialized version of the same cloud-based system used by many of the largest professional media and television companies in the world, says Ian Blaine, CEO of thePlatform, which is an independent business unit of Comcast Corp.
“More and more organizations are using video to communicate with their customers, employees, and stakeholders, and their needs are rapidly evolving,” Blaine notes. “With mpx Essentials, customers can grow with us, and benefit from an easy, affordable, and reliable system.”
The mpx Essentials Web-based console gives people at businesses and institutions an easy-to-use means to manage video, customize video players, optimize playlists and ensure enterprise-grade reliability, he says. Organizations can upload, store, and distribute videos to their own Web sites, other sites, mobile phones, tablets and other platforms.
The capabilities embodied in thePlatform’s mpx Essential package offer a vision of what enterprises and organizations can now do with video at very low costs. While other Web video publishing platforms have long offered economy-tier services, thePlatform’s new package, starting at $499 per month, opens a range of capabilities to video suppliers which haven’t been part of basic tier offerings, says Tim Sale, director of technical sales and program leader for mpx Essentials.
“We’ve had a lot of demand for this level of service that in the past we’ve had to turn away,” Sale says. Now demand is just too great to ignore, he adds.
“Demand has increased as costs of producing videos have dropped,” he says. “You don’t need a giant editing system, just high-quality video with something like [Apple’s editing software] iMovie.”
But they also need a sophisticated means of getting all the video they produce into various usage channels at low cost and with maximum feature flexibility. “Very large companies but not video companies per se are looking for a more affordable entry level package that can accommodate functionalities traditionally used by big entertainment players,” Sale says.
“We’ve layered in storage and streaming as part of the package,” he explains. “Users can log in and upload videos, and we store and publish them out. mpx provides a great console for creating custom video players for PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets. You can easily push your content to YouTube and Google to drive traffic.”
The features thePlatform is making available to this market go well beyond what’s on offer elsewhere while offering higher value in terms of basic usage and storage costs, Sale says. “The player design we have blows away anything we’ve seen before at this price level,” he asserts. “Our competitors provide templates that are so uniform they make it easy to tell who the OVP (online video platform) supplier is. With ours you choose dimensions, skins, colors, layers, third-party plug-ins and functions like social media integration and closed-captioning support that make your offerings unique.”
The system allows users to easily mix and match hand-picked playlists with dynamically generated video lineups and search-optimized feeds for Google and Bing, he adds. Users have access to a metadata toolset and other features that contribute to improved search and discoverability.
“Any device that supports HTML5 will work with our player experience,” Sale says. This includes later generations of Android as well as Apple iOS devices. And thePlatform is working with Microsoft, whose Windows7 OS for smartphones doesn’t implement HTML5 very well, to ensure that the more HTML5-friendly Windows8 OS coming out later this year will be wrapped into the mpx system, he notes.
The Essentials version of thePlatform’s service employs the Akamai CDN system and leverages Akamai’s segmentation system to accommodate streaming in multiple adaptive rate formats, he adds. “In the past, video distribution required a lot of developer work to make and customize players for viewing of brands getting output to all devices,” he says. “Our player service does all that for you.”
As for flexibility to expand beyond the entry level at $499, which supports up to 350 gigabytes of streaming per month for up to 500 videos with storage capacity of 500 gigabytes, the Essentials program allows users to migrate to the higher tier, priced at $1,499, seamlessly without having to re-launch the program, Sales notes.
The higher tier supports up to 1,500 GB of streaming for up to 2,000 videos with storage at up to 2,000 GB. Both tiers allow a la carte purchases of more capacity incrementally. And users can migrate to the fully featured mpx platform as usage levels increase.