SeaChange Rebranding Sharpens Focus On Personalization Pipeline

In an effort to attract subscribers, many of today’s most popular video service providers are now looking past simple online video streaming and towards creating a personalization pipeline to each individual user’s IP address. Certainly accommodating consumers that want to watch video whenever and wherever they want is important, but to generate recurring income, they have undertaken steps to create highly interactive and “authentic” sessions with users that these content providers can leverage in a number of ways.

With this in mind, Acton, Mass.-based SeaChange International is rebranding its products and image to reflect this enhanced content personalization strategy. The company has also unveiled a new logo and will retool (and rename) its existing products in an effort to present them within a unified platform approach.

Kurt Michel, company’s vice president of marketing, is overseeing the rebrand and said it is time for SeaChange to become more relevant within the online streaming space in order to serve this new service provider requirement. 

The company unveiled a new logo and plans for an integrated platform approach.

The company unveiled a new logo and plans for an integrated platform approach.

“The market today is all about personalizing video experiences,” Michel said. “The content should match the viewing situation. And when you, as a service provider, can suggest content that you never would have thought of but it turns out to be something you actually like to watch, that’s a bonus for everyone involved.”

In order to get this message across to the industry that that’s where we are going, we have undertaken a rebranding,” he said. “We have a number of products that don't really support a brand. They are all great point products, but combined together can be something special for our customers.”

Michel said he wants SeaChange to be more open in its new technology platforms and going forward will welcome collaboration with third-party vendors that can add technology the company does not develop itself. The company's current products like Adrenaline (multi-screen delivery), Asset Flow (a pay-as-you-grow cloud-based multiscreen service), Infusion (multiscreen ad insertion), NitroX (customizable user interface software) will all be incorporated into the new platform.

Rumor has it the company is working on a pre-integrated solution that can be deployed and put into service immediately and with very little effort. It makes heavy use of content management, metadata insertion, metadata enrichment, real-time metadata updating.

“The fact is that metadata is the key to our personalization story,” Michel said. “Metadata is not something you can do at the end point (the consumer). You have to get it right as the content is being prepared, otherwise people can't find it, or can't attach the right links to it. It’s all got to be done from the beginning and that’s what we envision.”

He said SeaChange has become well versed in putting together the management elements to make it work and has chosen a decidedly “open” approach so that app developers, signal processing vendors (e.g., transcoding) and others can build new features and capabilities that service providers can add as a competitive edge.

Kurt Michel, SeaChange’s new vice president of marketing.

Kurt Michel, SeaChange’s new vice president of marketing.

“For the open technology market to work, it has to actually attract competitors who see ways to add new features and capabilities,” Michel said. “If you are a service provider, that’s how you compete against a closed system. You create a community around the platform. That does not exist today in the service provider market. I think there’s an opportunity for SeaChange there.”

These highly personalized sessions could include someone watching a video on their iPad, stopping it and start watching on the living room TV. The session management layer has to be able to say, “I know who you (the consumer) are, I know where you stopped and I’m going to start at the point you left off.” There are also opportunities for service providers to suggest content for individual members of a household. So dad gets one set of ads as he watches a VoD program while mom and the kids get another.

“We have all of the core pieces in house right now,” Michel said. “We have the content management, the metadata enrichment, the back office (traffic, rights and session management and billing), and the user experience piece. If we can deploy the ability to integrate the back office with the user point, leveraging the metadata available, what we’ll have are the core elements that any video service provider requires.”

And, if you can provide these elements in the cloud and make them easy to leverage, it’s the kind of thing that the content distributor can really take advantage of from a competitive standpoint.

“This platform can be highly automated if required,” he said. “So, we, can make it available as a managed offering or a turnkey platform that the user customizes as they see fit. What we’re thinking here is that it’s time to take our experience and technology and use it to its full potential. We know the market, we’re just sharpening our focus.”

If it is successful, SeaChange will have a strong competitor to systems like Comcast’s Xfinity’s X1 cloud-based DVR and personalization service that some would argue fits into a closed system model. If the service provider wants a new feature or capability, it is beholden to Comcast to do that for them—which could take months to deploy.

“Over the years we’ve seen open systems and closed systems compete with each other, and still do,” Michel said. “The PC world uses an open platform (Windows OS) and became the de facto standard for all kinds of app writers to participate in. As I look at the video market today, I see an industry that looks a lot like the days before the operating system was created. There are lots of people trying different things, but many are spinning their wheels because there’s no standardization.

“For the open side of the industry to improve, we need a common platform that we all build to,” he said. “It should be able to bring in different pieces from a variety of cloud vendors, to make it happen quickly and efficiently. This allows us to personalize content for consumers in ways not possible before.”

“I think the industry is ripe for something different,” Michel said. “We’ve seen the evolution of the PC industry and we’re hoping to make the same kind of paradigm shift for video personalization.”

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