About a week ago we shipped our latest update to Brightcove, BC 3.3. I'm not going to go through everything in the update, but thought it would be good to highlight several things that I'm very excited about.
Distribution and Syndication 'stuff'
There are several new features that can work together to help drive unique distribution strategies using Brightcove. We often find that our customers want to leverage their Brightcove accounts to manage distinct distribution and syndication relationships, whether that be a partner site that wants to integrate content, or a new iPhone application or other device connecting into their content library.
- Custom Fields. We've added self-service tools that allow publishers to arbitrarily extend their content library data model to include additional meta-data and custom fields. This has many powerful uses, including surfacing new related content inside of video players or video pages -- for example, a product video or music video could have related SKUs and URLs that are used for contextual commerce. Custom fields can be used at run-time via Media APIs, Player APIs and via data-binding in BEML. From a 'Distribution' perspective, custom fields are vital to mapping your content library to the diverse set of meta-data requirements that your distribution partners may have. For example, the meta-data required by Yahoo is different than YouTube and still different than a Cable VOD system. Using custom fields, you can store all of this unique meta-data and then use our Media APIs to output the right feed for the right partner.
- Custom Transcode Settings and Profiles. With Brightcove 3, we introduced new cloud-based transcoding services as part of our platform. These services will automatically generate different renditions of your content for different levels of user experiences and devices -- e.g. from iPhone up to HD h.264. We've had a lot of feedback that our publishers want to establish their own unique transcoding settings and profiles, and so with BC 3.3. we've enabled this (though still requires working with Support, self-service UI will be forthcoming). With this feature, publishers can upload a high-quality (3-6Mbps h264) master file, configure their transcode settings, and automatically generate a wide range of different versions of their content. Using our Media APIs, a publisher can generate feeds or direct file access to these source files, which is useful for device distribution and syndication.
- Dual-Delivery Beta. While not talked about in our release notes, we also have a beta program running with BC 3.3 for a new feature called 'Dual Delivery' -- dual-delivery makes it possible to make your content available through both secure, FMS-based streaming for your web properties and players, and at the same time available via PD/HTTP access through secure use of our Media APIs. The idea is that many publishers want best-in-class quality and security for their web streaming, but also have a range of distribution scenarios for their content that requires more open and HTTP-based access. If you are interested in this program, please contact support with your use cases, etc.
All of these features can work together to enable powerful distribution scenarios, and provide developers with a ton of flexibility in the kinds of video applications they are building.
There are some other cool new user experience and productivity enhancing things in BC 3.3, including Custom Player Skins. Basicallly, every graphical element in Brightcove templates now can be skinned using JPG, PNG and SWF assets without requiring any programming. A big part of what we've tried to do is to provide a platform that allowed for deep customization along a spectrum of skill sets, from basically colors and graphics, to UI component skinning, to custom template authoring using an HTML/CSS level skill-set, to full-on Flash or AJAX UI programming against our APIs. Custom Skins are another step along the way to providing this rich customization.
In the advertising arena, we added a number of great new things. First, we added a new visual cue point editor for managing mid-roll advertising -- whether it be overlays used in short-form video or ad breaks used in long-form content. Ad Ops staff can now easily manage the insertion of these types and formats of advertising. We also introduced a new Ad Policy API, essentially opening up our Ad Policy run-time to developer and 3rd party innovation. This will be valuable for custom business logic, but also for plugging in flexible ad serving and inventory systems such as Freewheel. Finally, we introduced the industry's first support for VAST, a new IAB standard that we helped to author which aims to simplify and streamline how video players and experiences interact with ad servers used by publishers and advertisers. We're trying to make as much of these protocols open and inter-operable vs. the constant hacking that people have had to do to make all of this video advertising stuff work well.
There's a lot of other nice stuff in BC 3.3, including a range of back-end infrastructure that you can't see but that helps to drive quality, scale and reliability in our service, and bunches of other features.
We have a lot of product work underway for 2H 2009 and will be excited to share as we introduce. We're also continuing to hire into our product and R&D organizations, so if you know truly great software people, let us know!