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28 November 2019

Brightcove Beacon – concatenation or commoditization?

It took the best part of three weeks for Brightcove to confirm that its recently launched Beacon product is not in fact based on the Ooyala assets the Boston-based video software specialist bought earlier this year. It’s easy to highlight what something isn’t, while painting a picture of what Beacon is – and specifically what is abundantly new – proved a little trickier.

“Beacon basically gives the General Manager of an OTT service an app to run their OTT service,” Brightcove’s VP of Marketing Mike Green explained to Faultline. Addressing our speculation that Beacon is essentially Brightcove Video Cloud with a couple of extra monetization models plugged in, Green whittled Beacon’s new features down to two key selling points – an app generator and an admin portal.

Concatenation was Green’s word of choice to describe Brightcove’s mantra right now, which could otherwise be interpreted as a glossy synonym for commoditization. Beacon is ultimately Brightcove’s way of expanding its overall SaaS business to a higher margin approach to OTT video.

These two new admin portal and app generator features plug into the core CMS for your run of the mill creation and publishing processing desires, where the admin portal allows for a more refined configuration of the application experience – including setting up ads and other monetization configurations. The app generator then creates a native code for whatever device the team wants to launch the OTT experience on.

As a quick recap, Beacon was developed to enable rapid multi-device video experience launches with particular focus on live video. The SaaS offering aims to give customers in various industry verticals the tools to launch and monetize content, whether it be mobile, web, connected TV and smart TV – all from one platform.

“Persona-driven applications in OTT are hard to make,” Green continued. A persona in the context of app development can represent basic demographics like age group or go deeper to something like a particular preference for technology platforms. This approach can also be used to establish precisely where within an app certain users are spending the majority of time. Everyone claims to put the end user or customer first, but the rise of persona-driven software development has tried to make this more achievable – building apps based on a deep understanding of the app user even before development begins.

The best way to go about persona-driven software development is to find out what your rivals are doing and better still find out what the customers of your rivals think.

“We used to work with 24i Media for app creation but now we have these workflows in-house,” said Green, proudly. Dutch video app developer 24i was recently acquired by Amino Communications and has been praised for its impressive modular framework for quickly developing apps, so Brightcove’s claim to have brought this capability in-house is intriguing. “We brought in a bunch of OTT developers over the summer, unrelated to the Ooyala deal,” Green added.

24i also bolstered its internet TV app technology in May last year with the purchase of Czech HbbTV app agency Mautilus, for an undisclosed sum, one of two M&A moves by 24i in 2018 after buying multiscreen video platform provider Vigour in March, which the company said at the time reflected the record growth it experienced in 2017. These buyouts were made with an eye for strengthening its framework with new features which have increased its value substantially.

As for the Ooyala deal, Brightcove apparently looked to Ooyala with envy at its ability to take a video asset as soon as it has done airing, rip out the ads and turn it into a VoD title while keeping the ad markers for placing it online, to allow for dynamic ad insertion. “We had wanted to do this for a while but realized Ooyala was way ahead, so that’s how the deal came about” said Green.

Brightcove has now fully integrated the Ooyala technology into its product portfolio, including the OVP business, comprising a CMS and publishing platform, called Backlot, along with its Analytics and Live products, and much of its IP backbone technology too.

But with Beacon comes a caveat. A video infrastructure vendor by trade bringing app-creation and portal providing capabilities in-house embodies the further commoditization of these software processes. Brightcove’s key to success though could lie in serving a rich and diverse customer base, which has only got richer and more diverse with the names inherited from Ooyala, although Green attested that the Brightcove side of the business always had a more varied customer palate.