Technicolor Dreams

Scott Dougall, senior vice president and general manager of electronic distribution services for Technicolor Home Entertainment, is on a roll. After last year's purchase of SyncCast, Technicolor is deep in the throes of large file delivery for some very high-profile customers, as well as seeking new markets, delivery models, and partners.

"Technicolor provides an end-to-end solution that takes high-value content from music labels, movie studios, or other content owners," says Dougall during a recent trip to New York. "We package it up with metadata and manages delivery to end consumers across a content delivery network (CDN). This service is a natural extension of the services Technicolor has offered to owners of high-value content over the years."

Thomson, Technicolor's parent company and a very high-profile company in its own right, has used acquisitions over the past few years to position itself across the entire video value chain. Headquartered near Paris, Thomson is an international provider of creation, management, delivery and access solutions in the media and entertainment industries. Its acquisition of Technicolor and the shift from traditional film distribution to "new media" distribution led Thomson to acquire SyncCast about a year ago, placing it under the Technicolor umbrella.

"We use SynCast to service transactions and place very large content files at PoPs [points of presence]," says Dougall. "We don't compete with Akamai or others in terms of acceleration, since we only have 4 PoPs, one each in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Amsterdam. Each of these PoPs, though, has a tremendous amount of storage and significant data throughput."

Technicolor uses its SyncCast PoPs to deliver very large downloadable assets in the multi-gigabyte range and has delivered content for the XBOX 360, among others. Recently, Technicolor has also been asked to consider delivering streaming content.

"As we've grown our business, we've had requests for on-demand streaming services and live streaming services," says Dougall. "We didn't want to try to use our own specialized CDN to try to add streaming capability, so we went looking for a partner."

Dougall had four very specific criteria as he was looking for a partner that could provide streaming and additional CDN services.

Reputation. This criteria is one that comes with longevity and competency to handle crisis situations.

"We wanted a partner whose transit networks were already tested at carrying large amounts of data," says Dougall. "The partner we chose for our on-demand and live streaming, Highwinds, grew up handling Usenet newsgroup traffic for almost two decades, so we felt comfortable they knew how to handle large amounts of data, even if they were new to the media delivery space."

Robustness. According to Dougall, one of the key criteria was an ability to move content around the partner CDN as quickly as Technicolor is able to do so on its own internal CDN.

"Our partner needed to have a significant number of transit links, especially in to markets we are targeting," says Dougall. "We don't plan to stage downloadable files at a partner's European POP, since we already have our own, but we did want our downloads to use their transit network around Europe."

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