After Time Warner and Comcast’s recent announcements that they intend to greatly expand their online video presence in 2009, there have been a plethora of announcements from vendors claiming to have the perfect end-to-end Internet video solution.

There will undoubtedly be more at next week’s Cable Show in Washington, D.C. For more on online video trends, click here.

thePlatform, a subsidiary of Comcast, seems to be the current market leader in managing long-form online content, but that may change as competition becomes more fierce.

"We have about 40 competitors, and we add about one a week," said Marty Roberts, VP of marketing for thePlatform. "It’s a crowded space."

This week Irdeto, best known for its content security services, announced that it is joining the fray. For the past couple of years, Irdeto has been acquiring companies to help it provide an end-to-end online video solution. Acquisitions include Entriq, a content management and delivery company; Cloakware, a security company; and DayPort, a video publishing and syndication business.

Irdeto founding member Jan Steenkamp is heading up market development for the company in America. He said the talent from the added companies, together with Irdeto’s experience in business support systems, brings together all the elements to deliver long-form content to the Internet as a value-add to cable subscribers. The company’s first two customers are pay-per-view providers: World Wrestling Entertainment and Union of European Football Associations.

But Irdeto is already looking beyond the TV-to-Internet model. "This isn’t a sprint – it’s a marathon," said Steenkamp.

Getting premium long-form video on the Internet is just the first step. The second step will involve the set-top box, predicted Steenkamp, who envisions a hybrid set-top that can scan for programs on both the TV set and PC. His logic: After the excitement of being able to watch their favorite shows on the PC wears off, consumers will decide they don’t really want to watch TV sitting at a desk. They will want all of their devices networked to watch any time on any screen.

Steenkamp said Europeans are already beginning to use their set-tops to access Web video content, adding that it’s important for operators to build their online video platforms with long-range goals in mind.

– Linda Hardesty

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