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Brightcove, Revisited

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Subsequent to my piece, BrightCove, the New IP Platform, Alex posted a long comment on the site. I thought it was worthy of a stand alone post, and asked him to write a special post for my readers. It was brilliant analysis, which I don’t entirely agree, but want to share it with you folks. In fact, in the future, if a reader posts a brilliant comment, I would upgrade it to the post status. Good stuff needs a little helping hand. – Ed!

By Alex Rowland

Jeremy Allaire’s new company, Brightcove, has launched to some pretty good press. And while the company has not yet released its product (it actually just released the Website, the product should be following later this year), people seem to like the general concept. But what is the general concept? From what I’ve read there is actually some pretty solid disagreement about what it is that Jeremy is doing over at Biogen alley. It must be frustrating to stay on message and yet have so many miss the point, but explaining what Brightcove is doing is actually relatively difficult. So I’ll take another shot and Jeremy can tell me where I’m just plain missing the boat.

What Brightcove is …. essentially…
Brightcove is an end-run distribution mechanism intended to utilize Internet-connected devices to bypass high-cost legacy distribution networks (aka cable and satellite) and provide an alternate low-cost delivery channel for niche video assets. (Did anyone actually parse that?) As blogging is to text communications and Podcasting to audio communications, “Brightcoving” would be to video communications. Call it democracy in video.

Essentially, Brightcove is betting on the “long tail” of video content and making the assumption that an increasing percentage of the video that consumers watch (read: TV, movies, Internet videos, etc.) will not come from traditional mass-market sources. They’re betting that consumers want to be producers occasionally and that this is actually a market that will make people money. They’re betting that the existing centralized distribution mechanisms are really poorly suited to serving up this content.

I think they’re making a really good bet on all counts.

What is so confusing about that?

1. Misunderstanding #1: Brightcove is like TiVo.
Well, not completely off-base, but kind of misleading. Brightcove has been compared to a lot of companies including TiVo, Akimbo, Dave Networks, Netflix, Amazon (I bet you liked that one, Jeremy), etc… Well, in my opinion, the closest analog IS probably Amazon. Brightcove is trying to create a content marketplace in which any consumer, advertiser, and producer can be matched intelligently with the relevant party resulting in a transaction being completed through Brightcove’s platform. Sound familiar? Dave Networks and Akimbo are similar, but unfortunately each had to invest significantly in hardware development due to the dearth of suitable end-use devices when they launched. (While this is not terminal, it’ll lead to a lot of consumer confusion.) Unlike TiVo, Brightcove is actually saying that the end-use device is irrelevant; we’ll deliver the content anywhere.

3 Responses to “Brightcove, Revisited”

  1. I was introduced to Brightcove today by my instructor here at the International Film & TV Workshops in Rockport, Maine. Though it is an exciting idea, will it be seen as a passing fad? Will people actually pay to watch content not produced by the big boys? Have YOU ever bought a DVD you did not see in a theater or on TV first? Most people haven’t, though I’ve gotten shows recommended by word-of-mouth. With Big Brother breathing down the neck of VOD-casting, I can see the overlords of media actually doing “news stories” warning people that thier children will be killed by terrorists if they dare watch content from Brightcove or other alternative distro outlets.
    -Buck Kahler
    Documentary Filmmaker

  2. nhikrath

    I agree with sm. Ultimately, distribution models are simply gatekeepers, with no power at all to say where the market goes. The real issue is the quality of the content. This is the same reason there are many unsuccessful cable channels. Simply having access to the viewers doesn’t solidify an audience, there needs to be a draw, and that’s the content, not the method of transmission. Who cares if some new guy comes out with an indie film? Unless it’s really good, in which case it would get picked up by a theatrical distributor, nobody’s gonna waste their time trying a new software/transmission tool.

  3. most people who have any experience at all (that is, not the bright eyed, buhsy tailed pups who want to *change the world*) think Bright Cove’s model can be summed neatly as SOD, or Shit On Demand. If there is an audience for whatever alternative video Bright Cove unearths, power to all. But most people think amateur video — excepting, of course, pornography — is, well, feces, or more politely, fool’s gold.