Brightcove Launches New Version of its Platform, Brightcove 3

--Forms "Brightcove Alliance"
--Closes Down its Free Service, the Brightcove Network
--Cuts Workforce by 15%
--Secures New Deals with AOL, Conde Nast, MTV Italia

Broadband video publishing solutions provider, Brightcove, has launched a new version of its platform which it bills as "address[ing] the new reality of pervasive video on the Web." According to the company, Brightcove 3, as the new version is called, is an open platform designed for easy integration with third-party Web technologies, and offers four major new areas of functionality:
--Workflow: new media management and publishing tools that Brightcove says can be used by companies of any size to "vastly accelerate" the publishing workflow.
--Player framework: a new way to create and publish Flash-based online video players which, according to the company, are easily customized to the needs of a Web site or brand and which can be extended through third-party technologies and services.
--Media API's: a suite of API's that are billed by the company as enabling a new, contextual publishing model which allows producers to tightly integrate video with other editorial content and social media for improved SEO and increased viewer engagement and ad inventory.
--Dynamic delivery: a new way of dynamically adjusting the bit-rate of video streams in order to provide what the company claims is the highest quality possible within each user's bandwidth constraints.

"Video has gone from being a consumer-driven entertainment experience on the Web to being a basic feature of any professional Web site across all media and corporate sectors," Brightcove chairman and CEO, Jeremy Allaire, said in a prepared statement. "While online video is becoming ubiquitous, one size does not fit all. Built as an extensible SaaS application, Brightcove 3 provides tremendous flexibility to online publishers to meet the needs of the full spectrum of different end-user scenarios."

Brightcove is offering three pricing and packaging options for Brightcove 3: Basic (see below), Pro and Enterprise. The company says that a number of its customers--including Showtime Networks, Lifetime Networks, Comcast's FEARnet, Rainbow Media and Sun Microsystems--are already using Brightcove 3. "We were one of the earliest users of Brightcove 3, as we are constantly looking to evolve our online video offerings to create the best user experience possible," Rob Hayes, SVP and general manager of Showtime Digital Media, said in a prepared statement. "We immediately recognized the value of infusing video throughout all the components of our Web site to help improve SEO and increase viewer engagement. This strategy has paid off, with a 200% growth in page views within two months of launching and continued strong results." Added Evan Silverman, SVP of digital media at Lifetime: "Since launching phase one of our video platform with Brightcove 3, our video streams have increased 150%. The new platform makes our video content more visible to search engines and we are looking forward to phase two of the project and leveraging more of Brightcove 3's API's to continue to grow our online video business."

In other Brightcove news:
--The company has launched the Brightcove Alliance, which it describes as a "global ecosystem" of technology and distribution partners that have integrated with its broadband video platform, as well as solution providers that are using its platform to build customer Web sites and video applications. According to Brightcove, the new program will provide companies and organizations with a broad range of expert partners, pre-integrated technologies and services in order to support broadband video projects of any size in every market. "Video is pervasive on the Web, and Web site producers and operators are faced with an increasingly complex set of requirements and challenges to operate successful online video initiatives," Brightcove's Jeremy Allaire said in a prepared statement. "Our fast-growing network of Brightcove Alliance partners extends the possibilities of online video for organizations regardless of their size or market. The Brightcove Alliance helps our customers grow their businesses and expand the role of online video on the Web, while empowering our partners to create new innovations in online video." According to Brightcove, the Brightcove Alliance leverages the open API's that are a key feature of its new Brightcove 3 platform, making it easy for third-parties to integrate with and build services on top of the platform. At launch, the new program has around 90 partners, including designers, advertising networks, providers of server, delivery and distribution technologies, analytics and audience measurement companies, and social media specialists. Alliance partners will have access to training, support, technology and co-marketing services, Brightcove says. The company says it will launch training and certification programs for partners, as well as channel reseller opportunities, early next year.
--The company, which for some time now has been focusing on selling solutions to media companies and other enterprises, rather than on enabling user-generated video, says that it will close down Brightcove Network, the free version of its service, on December 17th. It will also close down its consumer-targeted Brightcove.TV Web site. However, the company says that it will provide Brightcove Network account holders with a free trial of the "Basic" version of its paid/professional platform, Brightcove 3: according to the company, those account holders' content will automatically appear in Brightcove 3, but the account holders will have to make new Brightcove 3 players in order to take advantage of the new platform's full functionality. Brightcove says that Brightcove 3 Basic was designed to meet the needs of former Brightcove Network users. In an email to Brightcove Network account holders, Brightcove's SVP of marketing and strategy, Adam Berrey, said that "the decision to discontinue the Brightcove Network was a difficult one" but that "ultimately, [the company] made the decision to focus all of [its] resources on the Brightcove platform business, which has proven to be very successful, with hundreds of active, paying customers worldwide." Meanwhile, TV Everywhere--a company headed up by Narrowstep founder, Iolo Jones, that offers a video management platform called VidZapper--has announced what it calls a "special package for Brightcove refugees." The company says that it will charge $250 a month for the package, which it claims is half the price of the Brightcove 3 Basic offering.
--The company has let go 25 employees (i.e. around 15% of its workforce). "As we move into 2009, we have reconfigured the Brightcove team around our key strategic priorities, and this has involved some staffing adjustments," it said in a prepared statement.
--The company is expanding its European operations via the appointment of a new VP of EMEA and the opening of a new office in Hamburg that includes sales and engineering staff and technical consultants. "European Internet users consume more online video than anywhere else, and Germany leads this trend both in terms of end-user demand and forward-looking media companies," Brightcove's Allaire said in a prepared statement. "We are excited to deepen our investment in the German market with a new office and German staff, and particularly the addition of Vanessa Wade to lead further expansion across the region." According to Brightcove, Wade has over 20 years' experience in building and leading sales teams at software companies in the US and the EMEA. She was previously director of continental Europe for email security company, BorderWare, and general manager of EMEA at MailFrontier (subsequently acquired by SonicWALL). Brightcove already counts a number of German media companies as customers, including OMS, an online sales and marketing network for regional newspapers (which is using Brightcove's platform to create an online video network for its member papers, that will feature premium content licensed and distributed by OMS, as well as local video published by the papers themselves), and magazine publisher, Gruner + Jahr (which recently used the Brightcove platform to launch ad-supported video across its various online properties, which include Stern.de). The company has also integrated its technologies with a number of German companies, including Smartclip, Adtech, Tremor Germany and Bebo Germany.
--As part of its ongoing expansion into Europe, the company has secured MTV Italia as a customer, and formed partnerships with two Italian companies, Idini Consulting Group and Slamcore (which have become members of the Brightcove Alliance). "Italy is among the most advanced European media markets with innovative news and entertainment brands, a fast-growing broadband population, and advertisers seeking new ways to engage consumers on the Web," Brightcove's Allaire said in a prepared statement. "We are excited to see the widespread adoption of our online video platform across leading Italian media companies and local partners who will help extend our platform with products and services that drive additional value for our customers." Added MTV Italia's Alberto Ceccarelli: "We chose Brightcove because we needed a turnkey solution that was easy to implement and did not have a steep learning curve for our editorial team. Brightcove enables us to communicate the MTVmobile service with a superior level of engagement and without the hassles of setting up a video platform from scratch. With Brightcove, publishing online video is a breeze."
--AOL, which has been a minority stakeholder in Brightcove since 2006, has tapped the company to provide it with online video content management, publishing and video playback services. According to the companies, starting early next year AOL Programming and AOL Video programming partners will use the new Brightcove 3 platform to deliver video to the millions of end-users who visit AOL's various Web sites each day. In addition, Brightcove's integration with AOL's global advertising platform, Platform-A, will expand opportunities for those programming partners to monetize their video with advertising, the companies claim. "AOL's adoption of Brightcove signals a shift in the market where even the largest online video publishers are using online video platforms to help drive quality, while also reducing costs," Brightcove's Allaire said in a prepared statement. "This partnership allows AOL to shift attention away from platform software development and focus instead on core competencies such as aggregating content, creating compelling user experiences, and selling advertising. Rather than building out capabilities on their own, features like Brightcove 3's new player framework can be easily tapped to improve AOL's online video initiatives."
--The company has signed a deal with magazine publisher, Conde Nast, that sees the latter using the new Brightcove 3 platform to launch ad-supported broadband video services across its network of Web sites. The first Conde Nast sites to launch on the platform include Wired.com (which is using it to offer contextual clips within news stories, as well as full-screen feature programming), Portfolio.com (which is using it to offer video clips on business news, analysis, strategy and advice, that are designed to be shared via email), Glamour.com (which is using it to offer new video channels on such topics as fashion, beauty, and health and fitness), Parade.com (which is using it to power a channel featuring interviews with celebrities, and which plans to roll out various other new channels) and Self.com (which is using it to power a channel featuring fitness videos and which will also use it to launch a new beauty channel). According to Brightcove, Conde Nast plans to use its platform to power video on 16 additional Web sites over the coming months.