Internet Television is indeed coming. But the best news is that small independent publishers, video makers and indie producers have now a new powerful ally facilitating their publishing, distribution and video monetization goals. And with such rapid expansion of online video publishing services, offering higher quality video, and more flexibility in publishing, sharing, and marketing, there has never been a better time to get your video content online.
Brightcove has launched a radical overhaul of their service that expands the horizons for both independent and larger scale video publishers wishing to deliver and manage their content online. This all-new Brightcove launch offers interesting opportunities to upload, monetize, syndicate and customize video content into user-defined internet TV channels.
In Jeremy Allaire's (Brightcove CEO) own words: "Brightcove is the first true Internet TV business platform."
The newly launched Brightcove Network breaks new ground in this ever more crowded video publishing and distribution marketplace by being first to offer a true and comprehensive internet television business platform from which video content producers can upload, package and monetize their content, while tapping into a range of marketing and distribution opportunities.
While YouTube and Google Video have thus far dominated the market, they are not without limitations. For one, the quality and size of the video produced by YouTube and its imitators leaves quite something to be desired in terms of image quality. The sheer amount of unfiltered content makes finding something of value more and more difficult. Furthermore, the nebulous terms of service that have to be signed in sharing your videos often leave people suspicious of exactly who owns the rights to their content. But aside from these important issues, the key problem is that the level of control that video producers have had over the presentation, sharing, marketing and distribution of their work has been so far very, very limited.
And that is where, for those demanding more in terms of both quality and control of their content, the new Brightcove jumps in.
While utilizing the same Flash-based video technology that powers much of the video behind sites like YouTube, and that has made 2006 the year of online video, the difference in video quality that Brightcove can provide (according to our multliple and extended video tests) is staggering. But the differences do not end there.
Find out what Brightcove traits may make a true major player in the world of Internet TV, along learning the few objections and counterindications we found while looking at this newly launched Brightcove Network.
New Consumer-Targeted Front Marketplace
Brightcove has changed radically its look and feel and "image" to the public, as its focus has now expanded from being one aimed entirely at video producers, to one that gives these producers opportunities to monetize and syndicate their content, while offering a consumer-targeted marketplace to the experience.
Among mixed feelings from those who have reviewed the new service before us, Brightcove.com shows to have transformed its public interface into a glossy, consumer-facing front-end to the service, while bearing some resemblance to someYouTube visual conventions and to some of its competitors, with featured content, a video search, categorized videos and a Top 10 video list making up the page.
The new look and feel opens Brightcove up to a broader audience, and will doubtless offer a blend of user generated content and that put together by pro and semi-pro video producers.
What sets the service apart from the likes of YouTube is the greater searchability on offer (powered by Truveo), and the quality of the product on offer. Brightcove.com searches not just within its own content, but across the web, making it a one-stop marketplace for independent publishers looking for content that they can easily embed in their own blogs and websites.
By redesigning and improving the design of their video player to further simplify and make more accessible the ability to share and redistribute/republish video on other sites (via YouTube-style embedding, linking or emailing options) Brightcove has definitely taken the right track in best supporting video's own marketing potential while increasing the overall quality standard for content and video delivery on the web. This is definitely a godsend for all those small and medium-sized independent publishers who have been striving to find free, high-quality video content to publish on their own sites.
Brightcove also offers producers the opportunity to syndicate their content to other sites, and site owners the opportunity to pick up syndication on those titles on offer, so that the front page of the service doubles also as a clearinghouse for the work of video independent producers.
Add to this the ability for producers to sell or rent their premium content directly through the site, or through AOL Video, and the opportunities for the monetization of video content expand.
Behind the Scenes
The transformation of service extends to the services and options available behind the scenes.
One great addition is the ability for Mac users to use the Brightcove console, so that it is now possible for them to upload video, a feature previously limited to users of Internet Explorer on Windows PCs. This is a positive move, bearing in mind the amount of video professionals using the Mac platform in their workflow.
Brightcove have also made it very easy for video producers to access tutorials, forums, support and even video guides to the publishing process. This is all gathered in what they have called Brightcove Studio, and serves as a valuable resource for those getting to grips with publishing through the service, especially in the wake of its extended options.
Key Features For Video Publishers
What are the key features offered by Brightcove?. Effectively, the service offers a complete solution that will encode your video for you (if you haven't encoded it yourself), give you different options as to how you display, monetize or syndicate it, and even submit it to three major video search engines for you.
In the following presentation, from Brightcove's VP of Marketing, Adam Berrey, we hear about the key features that make Brightcove an interesting prospect for those looking to publish, share and monetize their video content online.
The Brightcove player is very easy to brand, customize, create playlists within, and now to embed. There are currently a choice of 7 players that offer a range of controls to the user. The amount of control that end-users have over the player can be determined by the producer, who can also choose how they would like to monetize their content with advertising content. It is just this level of control that takes Brightcove out of the user-generated mold, and in the direction of a serious business solution.
The ability for producers to both directly sell or rent out premium content is another feature that will be welcomed by those attempting to monetize their efforts. By giving producers the ability to select a price, and whether they wish to offer the video as a rental, direct sale or both offers great flexibility for those that would like to take advantage of this.
Automated Search Indexing
Producers can also elect to have their content automatically submitted to key video search engines in addition to Brightcove.com, so that their content gains maximum visibility. This is a useful addition for those seeking to give maximum exposure to their content, and could have a positive impact upon the viral spread of a video across the growing landscape of online video.
Jeremy Allaire on Brightcove
In the following five minute interview, originally published at Beet.TV, Brightcove founder Jeremy Allaire discusses the changes in Brightcove, and the implications that it will have for small and medium sized content producers, bloggers and end-users alike.
Jeremy discusses the notion of "open distribution" that underlies the Brightcove enterprise. Tapping into the viral sharing model that has made YouTube so popular, Brightcove also offers the chance to embed video content into websites in an integrated way, the chance to use Brightcove.com's own distribution clearinghouse, and finally the ability to syndicate your content to a range of websites beyond Brightcove. This choice, in addition to the ability to charge for downloads of video content sets Brightcove apart in its flexibility of content delivery, offering several inroads to the monetization of content.
Areas for Improvement
Brightcove is a great step forward for independent video producers, but we do have a few small suggestions on how the service could be further improved.
One of the things that stops Brightcove from being the ultimate solution for independent video content providers is, in our opinion, the fact that pay content is only available in the Windows Media 9 format.
Why is this a problem?
Firstly, WMV 9 will only play on a Windows XP machine. Now certainly, this is a safe bet in terms of reaching most of your potential audience, but it does automatically exclude anyone using a Mac or GNU/Linux operating system from being able to buy or rent your content. Wave goodbye also to all of those people watching video from their MP3 players, unless it happens to be a Microsoft Zune.
The second problem is directly connected to the first.
Windows Media Video 9 is DRM 'protected'. In making use of Digital Rights Management technology, Brightcove affiliated suppliers join a raft of content providers that restrict the rights of users, when users are turning against this kind of treatment in their droves.
DRM is not popular with consumers, and there are a growing number of services that have dispensed with it altogether in the interests of allowing paying customers to access media when, where and how they choose. Certainly, it is arguable that as content providers attempting to monetize their products, many will welcome this measure, but in limiting this part of the service to Windows buyers, it is far from a perfect solution. I hope that this will be rectified in later versions of Brightcove.
This, however, is one flaw in what is an otherwise powerfully featured, complete publishing platform. This certainly isn't enough of a setback to warrant dismissing Brightcove, and it is worth bearing in mind that monetization of your content is still possible through the use of advertising and syndication, should you opt not to utilize the pay media download model. This open variety of monetization models is commendable on the part of Brightcove.
One other reservation worth mentioning is the current limitation on player size, both in terms of the upper and lower ends of the scale. With a minimum width of almost 500 pixels, it would be nice to have the option of a smaller video size, for easy embedding into blogs, for instance, and the option to choose larger screen resolutions for streaming would also be of benefit to producers working in high quality formats such as software tutorials and other types of screencasts.
An Evolving Landscape
Brightcove has effectively upped the ante in terms of what we can expect now from the evolving Internet Television field. In providing a total solution that allows users to be taken from encoding right through to marketing, customization of content and video rentals there are currently very few services that come remotely close to its features and potential for independent video producers.
On the horizon, however, there are other services that seem to be making ground, and it looks as if the possibilities open to independent media producers are opening up, as Internet Television evolves from its entirely user-generated infancy, and into a mature, viable business capable of sustaining the next wave of talented video producers tapping into the Long Tail of niche video content.
Among the potential competition for Brightcove is the upcoming NBBC video service, soon to launch from the NBC TV network. NBBC describes itself as a marketplace for digital video syndication, and like Brightcove is open to producers of all sizes, from established networks and media conglomerates to video bloggers and independent producers. Stay tuned for more coverage on this service.
Internet Television Comes Of Age
In providing such an all-encompassing business platform from which semi-pro and professional independent video producers can store, brand, syndicate and monetize their work in a rich variety of ways, Brightcove is a great example of what we can come to expect from the evolving Internet TV landscape. While there are some small elements that detract from its overall majesty, this is a valuable tool for the growing army of mobile, wired producers bringing about the next wave of Web 2.0.
It is now easier than ever, regardless of the scale of your operation, to produce high quality, personally branded content and tap into a number of revenue streams via the Brightcove service. It's flexible business model will doubtless be replicated elsewhere, and its feature-set further improved upon, but for the time being there is little that comes close to its range, depth and flexibility in the world of independent video production.
Internet television has moved up to the next level.