TMZ Drops Brightcove for Digitalsmiths

It’s hard to measure total reach for white-label video providers, but at least in terms of marketplace perception, Brightcove leads the pack. Be it thePlatform, Ooyala, Fliqz — it’s a long list — no enterprise video player comes through our door without mentioning Brightcove as a competitor. And the video platform dogfight gets nastier by the day, with established relationships getting ditched for the competition. We learned recently that big-shot celebrity news site TMZ has ditched Brightcove, its long-time video provider, for the search specialists at Digitalsmiths.

Digitalsmiths only recently started offering its video indexing and ad targeting technology bundled with a white-label video service; in the past it had offered it as a plug-in for other platforms. After it executed a deal to power the new — including using picture (computer vision) and audio analysis to index videos and to figure out dynamically what relevant video to promote — Digitalsmiths got the call to redo its Time Warner (s TWX) sister site TMZ.

For viewers, one nice thing about the switch is that TMZ no longer automatically resizes your browser window to play videos, as it did with the Brightcove platform. But it still employs tactics like replaying the same annoying ad every other video (for me it’s Aussie hairspray on repeat — I guess they think that ad targeting really hits the spot!), autoplaying the next video on its playlist, and disabling sharing or embedding to encourage visitors to come directly to its site.

TMZ’s site as a whole had 10.5 million uniques in August, according to comScore. While we don’t have broken-out figures for TMZ video traffic, but when we asked Brightcove CEO Jeremy Allaire on The GigaOM Show at the beginning of this year what drives traffic on his network, the first thing he mentioned was celebrity news.

To be fair to Brightcove, it’s not that there’s any clear momentum to shift away from its service. Today AOL announced it will ditch its home-grown video platform for Brightcove starting next year. And just last week, the New York Times (s NYT) relaunched its video section, moving fully to Brightcove from its previous provider The FeedRoom. The lesson? White-label video providers, try as they might to ingrain themselves into the core of their customers’ video initiatives, know that no deal is safe. That goes for Brightcove, and it goes for Digitalsmiths too.

Disclosure: Digitalsmiths and Brightcove have both been advertisers on the GigaOM Network.