A lot of sites are covering the launch of the new Brightcove platform today, but many seem to be missing a lot of the major new features of the release and instead, are focusing too heavily on an incorrect comparison to Move Networks. Seems to me that many folks are only looking at the press release and didn’t take the time to get a demo of the new features.
Last week I got to see the new platform in action and spent some time asking Jeremy Allaire, Brightcove’s CEO, some questions about their core customers. While Jeremy would not confirm the revenue numbers that I am hearing in the industry for Brightcove, he did say that Brightcove expects to be profitable in 12 months. He also stated that Brightcove has "over 400 premium customers" for their services.
The new Brightcove 3 platform that launched in beta with select customers, has some huge improvements over the previous platform. For starters, player load times have increased from 300-600% in the new platform. One of the biggest gripes I always had about using the Brightcove system is how long it would take the player to load on my website. Looking at some live sites already using the new system, I saw players loading in under 2 seconds. A vast improvement.
In addition, the Brightcove system will now let content owners choose whether they want to encode their content using H.264 or On2’s VP6 for what Brightcove calls "dynamic delivery". Very simply, dynamic delivery allows content owners to upload one video and have it transcoded to multiple bitrates. The result is that viewers get the best quality bitrate sent to them depending on their Internet connection. While some are saying this is a technology Move Networks created or adopted, RealNetworks introduced this technology, branded SureStream, back in 1998. Microsoft quickly followed suit with the same kind of technology branded as Intelligent Streaming in 1999. This idea of delivering the best file to the user, and encoding for multibitrate, is not new, but it is great to see Brightcove leverage it to make the end user experience better. For those who don’t know which to select, H.264 or On2’s VP6, Jeremy said the Brightcove system would make a default choice for them, but didn’t yet know what that default choice would be.
As some have mentioned, the new Brightcove system includes new APIs that enable more customization and more importantly, gives each video in the system their own unique URL. Another complaint of Brightcove users in the past was that the system was not really setup to be able to have search engines easily find the content. With the new system, that problem has been eliminated. The new APIs also allow a lot of customization over the way a video is presented and enables content owners to showcase related videos and drive up the number of videos consumed per viewer. Based on initial beta testers, they are seeing a large jump in the number of videos per user being played thanks to the new options for how the player and the surrounding content is presented. The new system has a drag and drop interface and as a Brightcove user, I can see some tasks that use to take me six or seven steps, now only taking one or two. The new Brightcove 3 system will be free to all premium users, but those who share revenue with Brightcove based on an advertising model, which is a small segment of Brightcove’s business, will have to wait for a newly packaged product offering.
While many are comparing the new Brightcove 3 platform to Move Networks technology, they have almost nothing in common, aside from both companies aiming for high-quality. At no time during my call with Jeremy did he call out Move or even mention them as a competitor. And the new features and functionality that the Brightcove 3 system now has, are relevant to all content owners, not just those with long-from content like some are speculating.
As a company, Brightcove has it’s roots in being a provider to enable content owners to use video for marketing and promotion, as opposed to Move who focuses on the deep needs of broadcasters. Brightcove is not doing anything at the network and infrastructure layer, not doing what Move does with QoS, not providing automation controls and does not getting hands-on with the broadcasters technical infrastructure teams. On the other hand, Move is not out in the market with their own portal or syndication strategy and not going after customers who all need the same publishing system. Brightcove and Move are two very different companies, going after very different customers, who also have very different levels of traffic. Many of Move’s content customers are delivering prime time content, to hundreds of thousands of simultaneous viewers, which is different from content owners using the Brightcove system. One is not better than another, both work well to fill two different demands in the market, but they are very different solutions.
Added: Another difference between Brightcove and Move Networks that I forgot is that Move Networks support live streaming. Something many broadcasters require.