With competition for TV viewers’ eyeballs (to say nothing of their dollars) moving into uncharted IP-based territory, Atlanta-based startup Clearleap is making waves with a product it says lets MSOs and telcos compete head-on with the likes of Netflix, Hulu, AppleTV and other would-be content providers.
Clearleap, running on $13.5 million in venture capital from two rounds of investments since it was founded fewer than 48 months ago, already is laying claim to wins at more than a dozen mid-sized providers, some 80 percent of them MSOs with a few telcos thrown into the mix. That group includes roughly half of the top 10 operators in the United States, says Clearleap CEO Braxton Jarratt. He won’t identify most of them, other than four small providers and one big fish – Verizon – that has begun using Clearleap technology for FiOS 1 on VOD across all FiOS TV markets.
What Clearleap has crafted is a pair of so-called “cloud” based offerings. The first, called Stream On Demand, enables content delivery over IP to connected set-tops, devices and TVs. Stream On Demand allows MSOs to stream unlimited hours and titles over existing broadband networks. If a TV is compatible, the video can go directly to that TV; to that end, Clearleap in August unveiled a pact with LG to make that vendor’s TVs compatible with Clearleap technology. The result is the ability for an MSO to offer a Netflix-like library of video delivered via IP alongside its own standard cable offerings of broadcast network shows, cable channels and local content that’s simply not available from such providers as Netflix.
The company’s second offering is an IP Content Management solution that offers the functionality to manage, monetize with ads and promote content on social networks. MSOs can upload content from just about anywhere, and the solution handles transcoding, encoding and delivery to a server on the MSO’s headend for transmission to subscribers using traditional technology.
In both cases, the offerings run on Clearleap’s own servers rather than on hardware a MSO has to buy and maintain. That is, of course, the meaning of cloud-based. “We’re taking the normal benefits of the cloud and applying it in the TV environment,” Jarratt says. The result is an offering that reduces MSO costs drastically and allows for almost instant scaling as demand grows. “We’ve been told by some (MSOs) that we’re saving them as much as 75 percent of what it would take to do it on their own,” he adds.
Jarratt also points out the Clearleap technology fits right into the emerging world of multi-screen technology, with a TV viewer perhaps using his or her smartphone or tablet to access additional content. “We provide a set of APIs that allow apps to know what subscribers are watching and communicate to the back end. Operators can use that to have apps that coincide with the viewing,” he explains. “We’re starting to see glimpses of what that experience will be,” he says of the first flush of such apps now dribbling out into the market.
– Stuart Zipper