Brightcove's Allaire Says IPTV Will "Rewrite" TV Biz

Founder of startup promising back-end services for 'Net TV forsees an explosion of content, providers.

December 14, 2005

3 Min Read
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SAN FRANCISCO -- According to Jeremy Alliare, the old script on how to run a TV business is being sent to rewrite.

The entity ordering the changes, he told attendees at the "Syndicate" conference here Tuesday, is the Internet, which Allaire predicts is ready to radically reorganize the present-day broadcasting market in the same fashion it is currently roiling print and music businesses.

"I'm not just talking about moving video over IP… I'm talking about a wholesale rewriting of the television business," said Alliare, claiming that the Internet's open distribution models and advancing search and advertising technologies will soon bring about an explosion of content providers from all walks of life, whose emergence may spell the beginning of the end of the current high-cost method of producing so-called "broadcast quality" programming.

Of course, as chairman, president and founder of startup Brightcove -- a yet-to-launch online video distribution service that has attracted investments from major players like AOL -- Allaire is almost required to make such storm-the-barricades pronouncements. But with a solid pedigree in the interactive online arena (one of Allaire's claims to fame is his work helping make Macromedia's Flash a success), Allaire has more than enough industry depth to provide sound reasons why the current studio structure of programming production is due for its own Web-based shockwave.

"The current system is full of friction," Allaire said, outlining the massive costs and challenges facing anyone seeking to air video content over the current broadcast and cable regime. Creating a new cable "channel," he said, carries a price tag of roughly $100 million; even after that hurdle (or an alternate costly path of creating a studio that licenses its content) is cleared, there are other profit-defying leaps necessary to gain access to cable or broadcasting channel lineups, and then to gain audience notice and acceptance.And yet for all of cable's so-called 500 channels, "it's still incredibly difficult to discover what programming's available," Allaire said, to the knowledgeable nods of remote-clickers everywhere.

But video distributed over the Internet, Allaire said, can take advantage of the medium's rapidly growing methods of search and discovery, including automated search engines and blog recommendations, information which can be quickly parsed by consumers using technologies like Really Simple Syndication (RSS), one of the technologies at the core of the conference.

On the Internet, "there are vehicles of dissemination that are vastly superior to the existing [system]," Allaire said. By combining powerful search with advanced, cheaper production equipment and near-instant distribution, the Internet video market could explode much as the way blogs and other independent print (or audio "podcasts") sites have proliferated, Allaire said, in a range from studio-quality to off-the-cuff Webcam productions.

"I hope there's a world of multimedia as rich as the Web is today," Allaire said.

Still, the balance of independent bloggers and podcasters are vanity publishers still in search of a profitable business model, a fact that may be mirrored in Internet video's early days, despite advances in audience-measurement and advertising-serving technologies. And Allaire also didn't have much of an answer to a question about how independent producers could hope to protect their content in a world where pirated legal content currently consumes a large share of Internet bandwidth.

But Brightcove, Allaire said in an interview after his speech, will help would-be video auteurs by taking care of the messy back-end functions necessary to launch Internet video, such as content hosting and distribution, and the implementation of ad-delivery systems, at a price yet to be disclosed.Video producers, Alliare claimed, "will be able to come in with us, and be up and running in a day." Business lunches at the Palm and casting couches, one guesses, are optional.

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