Don’t expect Brightcove to be a household name next year.
But it could weave itself into the vernacular within five years.
Brightcove founder and Internet entrepreneur Jeremy Allaire is working on a five- to 10-year plan for his latest business venture. If the success of his last business, which sold for many millions, is a barometer, then his long-term vision may well be better than 20/20.
Later this year the Brightcove service will go live, providing an online platform enabling content companies to deliver video-and the tools to use that video-directly to consumers via the Internet. Brightcove is currently testing its service with about 18 programmers, ranging from well-known cable networks to niche video suppliers.
This notion of Internet TV is far-out. But for those in the television business who subscribe to the notion that consumer control is the model of the future, Brightcove demands to be noticed.
The Brightcove business model has huge potential because people are increasingly looking for exactly the product or content they want on the Internet, said Will Richmond, president of research firm Broadband Directions. “[Mr. Allaire] is very much trying to overlay consumer behaviors from the Internet onto broadband video.”
Philosophically, Brightcove’s service is a manifestation of the “long tail” concept, first described in 2004 by Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired magazine. His seminal article posited that the Internet has created a new economic model for media and entertainment because it has made possible the consumption of niche content. For instance, Netflix carries more than 45,000 titles and 98 percent of the titles rent each quarter, Mr. Anderson said, indicating that demand goes deeper than might be expected.
That depth of consumer want is where Brightcove stands to profit. Most content doesn’t pass the TV threshold because television is based on a model of scarcity-both financially for production and technologically for bandwidth, Mr. Allaire said. The Internet removes that roadblock.
Such an unrestricted approach to consumption is possible only because broadband is dominant; nearly 60 percent of all Internet users will connect via broadband by the end of this year.
“The final tipping point was home consumers had broadband connections and were going to be able to get devices from personal computer makers and consumer electronics makers that allow them to move videos to TVs,” Mr. Allaire said.
Brightcove’s role will be to serve as a platform operator for Internet TV. While many content companies-including Scripps and ESPN-already offer video on their own sites, Mr. Allaire said Brightcove makes it easier by giving them services to publish, catalog, organize, package and market content, deliver ads and handle customer payment and support. Mr. Allaire said content will be free, pay and ad-supported.
Channing Dawson, senior VP of emerging media at Scripps Networks, said he’s interested in the Brightcove model as long as it’s a complementary way to introduce Scripps brands to new audiences and doesn’t detract from Scripps’ own branded Web sites.
Advertisers are keen on Brightcove’s potential too. Brightcove effectively expands the inventory for broadband video advertising, which already is in high demand, said Sarah Fay, president of Isobar US, the interactive arm of The Aegis Group.
Brightcove faces competition on many fronts, though. Google and Yahoo are getting into the video business, while services such as Akimbo are going after the long tail of demand too.
But betting on Mr. Allaire seems relatively safe. Shortly after graduating from Macalester College with a degree in philosophy and political science, he founded Allaire and built the popular Web application software Cold Fusion. He sold to Macromedia in 2001 for $360 million.
Title: Founder and
Date of birth: May 13, 1971
Place of birth:
Big break: In 1990 Mr. Allaire’s college roommate worked for the computer services group at Macalester College and set up a dedicated Internet
connection into their dorm room.
Who knew? In 1993 and 1994 Mr. Allaire was the official online publisher of the Noam Chomsky Archive, an archive of the noted activist’s political and critical essays on the media and U.S. foreign policy.