Why Viacom Gave Up Developing Its Own Mobile Video Player

Media conglom using Brightcove to power apps for Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and other channels

Until earlier this year, Viacom had used its own internally developed video player in apps for channels like MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.

But in gearing up for TV Everywhere, to make more video content available to pay TV subscribers, the media conglom decided to scrap that effort and instead moved to Brightcove’s player to speed up its time to market, said David Kline, Viacom’s senior VP and chief information officer.

“It was clear we could do this faster (with Brightcove) than if I had to build a team and do it ourselves,” he said.

Viacom, starting in early 2012, began working with Boston-based Brightcove to deliver native app video experiences across multiple device platforms. The Brightcove player features include support for closed-captioning, authentication, audience measurement (integrated with systems from Nielsen, comScore and Adobe) and in-stream advertising.

SEE ALSO: MTV Streams Full Episodes to Xbox

Nick was the first network to launch with Brightcove-powered video app, with an iPad version in February, followed by apps for iPhone and Xbox. Viacom has followed with MTV and Comedy Central (with apps for “Tosh.0” and “CC: Stand-Up”) and plans to expand to Android smartphones and tablets this fall. The apps’ TV Everywhere authentication, provided through Adobe Pass, to let Viacom deliver full eps to subscribers of participating cable and satellite operators.

“The main goal, in a TV Everywhere environment, is to be out there on multiple platforms,” Kline said. If Viacom had to develop the video player internally, the company’s initial mobile apps for video would not have been ready until the end of 2013, he added.

Viacom was later than some of its cable peers in delivering TV Everywhere apps. Kline said the company could have tried to rush out video apps sooner. But “what we didn’t want to have happen is for our fans to say, ‘Wow, this is horrible,'” Kline said. “Our viewers are in an age group where if they don’t like something, they won’t want to come back.”

That said, Viacom launched the Nick iPad “prematurely,” Kline said. “We thought we could correct the bugs in it quickly, but unfortunately we couldn’t… It just wasn’t ready to go.” Viacom’s team fixed the glitches, which among other things caused the app to slow down, within two months.

Brightcove, founded in 2004, has more than 6,300 customers, including AMC, Discovery Communications, Fox, NBCUniversal, Showtime Networks and Warner Music Group.

“The good news for us is that the technical fragmentation means we’re in a position to enable our customers to reach any platform,” Brightcove CEO David Mendels said.

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