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18 April 2019

Brightcove etches out blurred plan for Ooyala assets

We had hoped to bring readers a comprehensive update following the recently completed acquisition of Ooyala’s online video platform business by rival vendor Brightcove but, unfortunately, our briefing at NAB last week only muddied the roadmap waters – providing a vague framework for a newly merged platform heading out into a heavily commoditized world.

To conclude that Brightcove is clueless regarding the long-term plan for integrating the new technology – and more importantly knowing how to squeeze money from it – is perhaps too harsh considering how fresh the deal is. Yet Brightcove struggled to convince us that buying assets from Ooyala, a company which has experienced a dramatic fall from grace in recent years, has the potential to be anything other than a poisoned chalice.

Faultline Online Reporter arrived expecting to be enlightened and excited by the prospects of merging technologies from two esteemed OTT video vendors who have each been in the game for over a decade, but – in truth – we left underwhelmed. Both Brightcove and Ooyala have grown to become prominent names in our ecosystem, enjoying much success in fields including video players, workflow tools, analytics and advertising technology and while Brightcove’s Director of Solutions Marketing, Andy Wilson, admitted that commoditization has crept up in the end concerning certain elements, that doesn’t necessarily mean the future is bleak for a merged Brightcove-Ooyala.

The deal in fact gifts Brightcove an additional 150 to 200 customers, according to Wilson, including Turner, Audi, Dell, the PGA Tour, and Turner Asia Pacific. We can see from Brightcove’s latest set of financials that business is steady, with revenues up 2% to $40.1 million for Q4 2018, and we’ll be sure to scrutinize the next set of results and assess the Ooyala contribution.

Wilson noted how the integration of the Ooyala video platform with Brightcove’s own infrastructure has since completed so the current scenario is all about weighing up the strengths and weaknesses of the new-look platform in order to efficiently migrate customers over. It’s worth noting the Flex Media Platform was not part of the deal and so this technology has stayed behind with Ooyala.

“Both technologies from Brightcove and Ooyala are robust in the live space. We can take Ooyala Live and put it on Azure or the Brightcove Cloud and the Ooyala Rights Locker set of APIs for defining and managing digital assets is one complementary service,” said Wilson, “the Ooyala customers are all happy so now we can just focus.”

Fittingly, Brightcove was the official live streaming technology supplier for the NAB Show, handling the publishing of content directly onto social media as well as spinning it up for on-demand viewing after the show.

Interestingly, in-house Principal Industry Analyst at Ooyala, Jim O’Neill, has made the switch over to Brightcove. We mentioned the irony of how when Ooyala completed the management buyback from Australian telco Telstra in October, the press release cited looking at acquisitions, little did we know it meant the other way around. However, prior to selling the video platform business to Brightcove, O’Neill said Ooyala was in fact “looking really hard at acquisition options” although he was not willing to enlighten us with any specifics.

The buyout came following the brutal $500 million write down at the expense of Ooyala’s ad technology business last year.

Over at Ooyala proper, the Flex Media Platform was of course on show at NAB 2019 and is showing resilience in the face of adversity, winning a media asset management deployment at creative production agency the Picture Production Company (PPC) to assist film studio clients in more efficiently distributing content via a system which audits, tracks and stores media assets. Also at the show, it announced an integration with Google Cloud Video Intelligence, one of its AI and machine learning products, for use in precise analysis and metadata enrichment.

So, acquisitions could be still be on the cards for Ooyala if we take O’Neill’s word as gospel, perhaps putting the proceeds from the $15 million Brightcove transaction ($6.25 million in cash and $8.75 million in shares) towards firming up its production business, or Ooyala might even surprise us by exploring a new angle altogether.