Deluxe Entertainment and NeuLion Act on Multiple Fronts to Expand OTT Provider Arena
Some of the more compelling examples of how end-to-end turnkey service models are adding new dimensions to the meaning of TV Everywhere can be found in initiatives underway at broadband TV distributor NeuLion and Deluxe Entertainment, including a new affiliation between the two that’s focused on the on-demand content side of OTT distribution.
The combination of capabilities the two entities are bringing to bear individually and in concert promise to quickly broaden the opportunities to build branded direct-to-consumer delivery of high-value video content on the part of everyone from TV networks to movie theaters to brick-and-mortar retail outlets. Deluxe Entertainment, an old-line distributor of movies that has repositioned itself as a distribution force in the digital era, has greatly expanded its service portfolio in this space with products offering support for on-demand in the OTT as well as the service provider space, live OTT distribution through the cloud and advanced asset management capabilities for putting massive quantities of archived video in play for digital distribution.
NeuLion, which provides high-quality global distribution support for pro and college sports leagues such as the NFL, NHL, NBA and the Big 10 along with a growing base of entertainment TV outlets, is working with programmers and service providers to support a wide range of new business models that in some cases complement and in others threaten the legacy pay TV business model. In teaming with Deluxe to make the on-demand movie and TV business an opportunity for virtually any entity that wants to get in the game, NeuLion is opening the door to new levels of disruption that could threaten dominant OTT players as well as traditional pay TV services.
“The NeuLion and Deluxe solution will provide content rights holders with a huge library of entertainment that can be monetized online, giving storefront operators complete control over how to merchandise content,” says Chris Wagner, executive vice president and co-founder at NeuLion. “The combined solution will handle transactions and billing as well as merchandizing, such as promotions, pricing, promotional codes and coupon redemption.”
As previously reported, Deluxe, through its Digital Distribution business group, last year launched Deluxe On Demand, a hosted on-demand content catalog service that provides operators access to thousands of movie and TV program titles that have been encoded for stream-ready distribution to a wide range of connected devices as well as for delivery to traditional set-tops. Now Deluxe Digital Distribution has opened availability of the service to OTT distributors along with a title mapping service that identifies UltraViolet-enabled titles within any given provider’s licensed portfolio as a way to facilitate promotion of benefits associated with the digital locker platform.
The service-based solution offers OTT providers the ability to quickly add new services and to deliver an extensive and ever-expanding video catalog to subscribers, without the significant upfront investment in time and resources to build their own network infrastructure and workflows, says Chris Rittler, senior vice president of sales, marketing and business development at Deluxe Entertainment. “We provide the processing, protection and encoding systems necessary for multiscreen access and delivery of whatever titles a given entity has license to from our video library,” Rittler says. “We can take a small customer who might want to start with just 2,000 titles, and, as they acquire new licenses, we can take them from 2,000 to 10,000 literally overnight.”
The tie-in to UltraViolet makes it easy for such players to make the platform a part of their branded service offering, he adds. “When you bring a title that’s part of the UltraViolet library you need that title to be registered with the UltraViolet Coordinator,” he explains. “We do that service for you.”
Established TV programmers are exploiting the service as well, Rittler notes. For example, the Deluxe On Demand video catalog service is powering the P LAY suite of authenticated online services offered by Starz, including STARZ PLAY, ENCORE PLAY and MOVIEPLEX PLAY, for distribution online. The support includes software and services for integrating with Starz distributors to ensure all parties work in tandem as distribution requirements evolve.
“Starz is approaching the use of our services like other customers, where we make sure content is getting to every device from smartphones to TVs at the highest quality with protection from DRMs that match those devices,” Rittler says. “They’re working with their cable partners but they also see a strong value in going direct to authenticated subscribers with their catalog. We support that authentication process.”
The combination of the NeuLion TVE Platform with Deluxe On Demand brings into play the back-office billing accounts support, quality-of-service assurance mechanisms and business model flexibility that enable a complete end-to-end turnkey solution. “If you have a business that markets goods and services to consumers, you have an opportunity to offer movies and TV shows for rent, subscription or purchase just like the well-established OTT providers,” Wagner says. “We make it easy for you to merchandise, build business rules and enable search on your branded storefront for delivery of video to any device. That’s a big opportunity.”
Another new component of the Deluxe ecosystem is MediaCloud, which provides turnkey support for delivering live broadcast feeds over the Internet. The service brings together cutting-edge non-proprietary IT technologies and state-of-the-art media tools to support portal-based management, playout and secure multi-platform, multi-network distribution of high-value content, says Deluxe MediaCloud CTO Alec Stichbury.
“Broadcasters face stiff competition for viewers and advertising and subscription revenues from an agile and aggressive market place,” Stichbury notes. “MediaCloud eliminates many of the end-to-end traditional broadcasting costs and barriers, providing tools that will help drive new revenues and audiences for broadcasters.”
Still another key factor in facilitating new business models in the TV space is provided through the firm’s Deluxe MediaRecall division, which provides high-speed digital migration workflows to help organizations digitize, catalog, transcribe and monetize their valuable media assets. In what was described as possibly the largest digital migration project anywhere, the company recently announced NBC Sports Group has tapped MediaRecall to digitize, catalog and store the group’s entire film and video library, representing up to 400,000 hours of sports-media content. This move comes as NBC Sports prepares to launch live broadcast coverage of over 1,000 sports events online starting this summer (see page 1).
Taking content from obsolete videotape formats such as NBC’s TV broadcast coverage of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games and clips from the first Super Bowl in 1967 as well as the latest HD sports broadcasts, Deluxe will encode to a digital master and apply metadata for all of NBC Sports Group’s media. As the digital migration is completed, the new master files will be imported into the group’s advanced media asset management system to enable search, discovery and file-based workflow delivery on a global basis, says Darryl Jefferson, vice president for digital workflow at NBC Sports Group.
“While the historical preservation of our media and reduced physical storage costs are welcome byproducts of such an enormous undertaking, the most compelling reason for NBC Sports Group to complete this migration is to reduce in-production turnaround times of critical deliverables to nearly zero,” Jefferson says. “With our new facility in Stamford (CT), we engineered for true, file-based production, whether at our studios or in remote locations. NBCUniversal’s partnership with Deluxe is ideal to make that happen in less time and with greater ease than we could do on our own.”