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Red Bee Media Launches RedPlayer Online Video Platform
Broadcast services company fills in the missing piece with its first consumer-facing service.

U.K.-based broadcast services company Red Bee Media has partnered with Cisco, 247 Real Media, and Akamai to launch the white label online video platform RedPlayer.

The technology is intended to permit broadcasters and content owners to deliver and monetise video to multiple devices, including the iPhone, iPad, and Playstation, and could be a platform to which existing broadcaster players such as ITV Player and 4OD upgrade.

"It completes what is arguably the missing piece for Red Bee and something that would have become more of an omission going forward," explains Steve Plunkett, Red Bee's director of technology and innovation. "What we haven't done to date is had a direct role in consumer-facing services. We ingest, transcode, manage, and secure content, but the front-end piece is new. We've spent 15 months looking at how to credibly enter the market and the result is RedPlayer.

"Broadcasters want to make available catch-up content immediately after transmission," he continues. "We aim to do that as well as allowing pause and rewind of live content. What also excites broadcasters is the use of the EPG as a form of navigation on an online platform mixing catch-up, catalogue, archive with live linear and future scheduling in a way that is familiar to users, plus content recommendations - and across connected TVs and all multiple devices."

Red Bee Player, PCThe first customer announcements are expected in the next few weeks. U.K. broadcast VOD services such as the BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD, Demand Five, and the Virgin Media Player, which are already back-end managed by Red Bee Media, are prime candidates to switch.

"These players have been deployed for two to three years and devised as PC-centric catch-up models and some way from a genuine multi-device service capable of delivering live and catch-up and catalogue," says Plunkett. "I think many of those broadcasters will be reviewing their platforms.

WPP's division 247 Real Media will host and serve ads, provide targeting advertising, and also act as the ad-sales house. Using Cisco's Videoscape Media technology RedPlayer will enable businesses to offer subscription, download to own, integrated micro-payments, rental, and capped or uncapped library access.

"We wanted a CDN partner if clients were interested in taking an end-to-end service inclusive of content carriage and Akamai best fit the bill," says Plunkett. "A large number of broadcasters will have direct relationships with CDNs, but for many brands looking for a TV presence the territory is new."

The solution, built in Silverlight and Flash and also optimised for the Apple OS, provides content protection DRM and asset identification services, such as watermarking, as well as rich metadata, including the provision of images, video clips and longer form editorial metadata. Search functionality familiar to Internet users will allow consumers to search across the content catalogue based on the metadata provided.

 "The online video market has developed considerably in recent years, both in terms of technology and viewer demographics," says Plunkett. "This has attracted increasing volumes of high quality content, a broader range of content providers, and raised viewer expectations. Now brands, rights holders, production companies, and studios are competing directly with traditional broadcasters through the open market of the Internet. Slow, unreliable video platforms are no longer good enough, especially when customers are paying for content."

The player builds on the infrastructure that Red Bee Media already offers, including high capacity file delivery through ‘Media Gateway' and multi-format tape and disk ingest facilities. These assets have both large storage needs and rapid transcoding to deliver formatted video to multiple end devices.

For analytics and reporting, RedPlayer tracks data relating to content usage and provides a range of reporting tools to allow broadcasters to better understand their audience. The reporting engine can display analytics data using graphical models, information reports, and a variety of exportable data.

According to Bill Patrizio, the CEO of Red Bee Media, "The online video market has rapidly evolved, driven by consumer demand for higher quality and a greater variety of content made available across multiple platforms. As a result businesses need to deliver a better experience with intuitive search and recommendation tools through a better user interface. With critical mass has come the first real opportunity to profit from video online which has heralded flexible and simple payment models delivered by RedPlayer."

In April, 2011, 26.9 million people in the U.K. streamed video from home and work computers, according to research by Nielsen VideoCensus.

Red Bee Player, iPad

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