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Ooyala jumps into TV Everywhere pool with Backlot TV-E

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Online video platform Ooyala is jumping into the TV Everywhere fray, just weeks after arch rival Brightcove announced its entry into the market, adding that Mexican Broadcaster, TV Azteca and US-based broadcasters have signed up to begin testing the TV-E platform later this month.

Ooyala says the platform will have offer broadcast and cable networks integrated paywall authentication, will give networks more control of online monetization and consumers a broader choice of online video. The company said several customers already are beta testing Backlot TV-E, which is has native support of video delivery to Roku and Boxee, offers HD video over secure HTTP, includes audience measurement reporting tools and quality of service reporting across various CDNs.

"A lot of companies are trying to make announcements and ride the wave pushing the TV Everywhere vision," Bismarck Lepe, co-founder and president of products for the company told FierceOnlineVideo. "We feel that most of our competition is just building new doors to the same walled garden that has existed for years. We think the real solution should be a clearinghouse of content to individual consumers."

From a consumer standpoint, Backlot TV-E seems to be a real boon, or at least it's less discriminating as to audience. The platform makes content available to anyone willing to pay for it; there's no subscription required. Users will make a payment for an episode through PayPal, Amazon's Flexible Payment system or Google Checkout, and will have access to the content. The micropayment model lowers transaction fees.

Lepe said that some of what will be its TV Everywhere platform remains up for discussion. In addition to Boxee and Roku, Ooyala is working with other set-top box and OTT partners; additionally, Ooyala and its content partners are also still looking at experimenting with different business models for different markets. For example, Ooyala and partners are weighing how long a content rental window will remain open. "We'll be experimenting to see what makes sense," Lepe said.

Lepe was somewhat dismissive of some TV Everywhere products that already have come to the marketplace, saying that in one case, the company had, in his opinion, simply repackaged its enterprise product and introduced it as new.

"Backlot TV-E is a completely new product for broadcast and cable networks," he said. "We're already beginning to see interest in it from some newspapers and sports organizations; people who have topical content with short shelf lives," Lepe said.

Ooyala's move onto the TV Everywhere playing field is an attempt by the company to get in front of a moving train, one that isn't slowing down for anybody as OTT continues to gather momentum and to divert revenues from programming networks and cable companies.

"Monetization of online video content is going to play an increasingly large role in Ooyala's business," Lepe said. "It's going to be significant. In term of aligning our business on the value side, Backlot TV-E will bode well. It really marks a change for us, as opposed to being an infrastructure enabler."

Lepe said Ooyala's TV Everywhere play would include more partners outside the U.S., specifically in Europe and Latin America.

"One of things we believe as we look at the industry is that fully ad-supported content is not going to survive; it can't support the industry," he said, echoing an industry sentiment that was pushed to the forefront as the recession dented online and broadcast advertising growth. "We think it has to be a hybrid that is both ad paid. And, even having said that, this is just a first step, it's not the answer to all problems. But it is a first step that we think will provide an opportunity to help the industry."

Right now, though, that small step won't include smaller content programmers. "During the first phase, we'll concentrate on testing the model (with a major U.S. broadcaster)," said Lepe.

As to the pace of the project moving forward, Lepe said there's no doubt: "It's an interesting period of time right now, everybody is coming to the table, looking at how they're going to monetize content and worried that unless they figure out how to do it, they're not going to have jobs in five years."

For more:
- see this release
- see a slideshow of Backlot TV-E screenshots

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