Avid’s IPTV opportunity

It amazes me how infrequently Avid comes up in discussions about IPTV. Years after the company replaced “Tools for Storytellers” with “Make, Manage, Move | Media,” Avid is still thought of as primarily an NLE maker and not much else by video professionals. It still makes fine NLEs, but then again so does everyone else. For the most part the NLE has become a commodity. That’s why Avid has transformed itself into an infrastructure provider. Take a look at its most exciting announcement of 2005. Isis is an enterprise-level shared storage solution. Enterprise level? What editor do you know who describes anything as “enterprise level”? Read further and Avid emphatically states that the server works with non-Avid workstations as well. This is all quite interesting to the IT workers in enterprise-level enterprises. But it should be of interest to content producers of non-enterprise means as well.

Avid is well positioned to become a dominant player in the IPTV space. Avid’s strength is media management, and that’s what IPTV is about. In the short to medium term, there will be multiple platforms – some will be based on Windows Media technology, some will based on QuickTime/MPEG-4. New platforms might spring up rather quickly. What one company manages media creation and sharing comfortably on both platforms? It’s not too much of a leap to imagine editing some content on an Avid NLE and then telling the system to publish it. Convert the content to the appropriate format(s), and either serve it from an Avid server or FTP it elsewhere.

If the Long Tail is a reality, then viewers in those little niche markets will have some iPods, some PSPs, some Windows Media Centers, and even a few mobile phones. Avid’s the company best positioned to manage the distribution of multiple assets from the same media. Avid’s technology can make serving technically diverse markets economically viable. It’s not hard to imagine this as the direction Avid plans on going. For real niche programmers with audiences in the dozens that can’t afford a full featured NLE and the talent to run it, a version of iNews Instinct can be a perfect fit.

According to the US government’s latest Economic Census, there are over 50,000 non-payroll enterprises in the video production business. (There’s another 11,000 with payroll.) While many are sole proprietors who only do work for hire, it’s not unreasonable to assume that 10,000, or 20%, of those are content creators who would invest from $1,000 to $2,000 in hardware and software to publish their content via IPTV. That’s a market worth pursuing if it can be served with technology that’s already on your shelf.

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