Marty Roberts, thePlatform

Comcast subsidiary thePlatform recently launched its next-gen video commerce system that will power digital video storefronts across computers, tablets and mobile phones for subscribers. The system includes an automated workflow that applies pricing templates to videos as they are uploaded and published. CableFAX spoke with Marty Roberts, svp, sales and marketing about the video ecommerce market.
 
Who is the target customer for the new video ecommerce solution? Have you already signed on customers?

Our target customers are new and existing customers who want to build next-gen online video stores. We do have customers in both the U.S. and Europe using the new commerce system, but we can’t disclose them quite yet. We’re seeing a high degree of interest in Europe where the transactional video model is already more pervasive.
 
Are you seeing any trend in terms of what cable programmers are doing to enhance their video storefront?
 
Yes. Today, many cable programmers offer current or recent episodes online on their websites, often via TV Everywhere authentication models. However, they often don’t sell downloadable episodes from past seasons on their sites, which turns consumers towards iTunes or Amazon. Our question is: "Why turn consumers over to other sites to buy your shows, when they can do so on your site?" It’s a message that’s resonating with programmers who are looking to monetize their shows through all available windows.
 
So the new platform is available across platforms (just as cable operators are getting into TV Everywhere). Does that mean authentication is required? Any challenges you see making this product available across platforms?
 

The need for authentication is driven by the needs of the customers. Sometimes it is required, and other times it is not. Our commerce system supports both. We also have designed our system to handle purchase across IP-connected device types (iPads, computers, Xbox, smartphones, etc) so our customers don’t need to worry if the video is in the right format or packaging.
 
What about OTT video providers? Do you expect OTT to be potential customers? Are they also working on enhancing their video storefront to compete with cable?

Yes on both counts. This system is also ideal for OTT providers seeking a commerce solution tailored for managing and monetizing video assets.
 

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