By Bernie Arnason | Telecompetitor

Evolution Digital hopes to bridge the divide for smaller video operators who want to offer IP VOD, but have legacy network limitations. Video distribution is clearly moving towards IP, but the transition is expensive and difficult, particularly if you lack scale. Add this IP transition hurdle to a video business model that is challenging at best, and smaller video providers are increasingly questioning their future in the video business.

According to Evolution, their new eVUE-TV platform offers an IP VOD solution that a video provider can layer on their existing QAM infrastructure, or launch as a standalone service. It offers VOD content including movies, cable TV network programming, and premium subscription content, delivered via IP as an app to a set-top-box or mobile device.

“The eVUE is a contained platform that allows operators to move everything that’s not linear services into IP,” said Brent Smith, president and CTO of Evolution Digital in an interview. “They don’t have to invest more in the legacy QAM environment, so cap your investment in QAM and move that capital investment into IP.”

Evolution touts eVUE-TV as a lower cost IP VOD solution for video providers who don’t want to build their own VOD capability. The solution comes from Evolution’s acquisition of i-Velozity, who offered the first evolution of the platform to a number of cable companies, telcos, and municipals. It is currently deployed across a few operators, running on both Moxi and Minerva platforms.

The OTT Challenge?
Evolution sees a growing need for video providers who want to add or enhance their VOD offer, but couldn’t make the business case to do it. Many of those operators are losing VOD opportunities to OTT competition. Some even question whether VOD can be viable, given the growing penetration of OTT content – there is some “is the genie out of the bottle” thinking, with regards to trying to compete with OTT with a VOD solution.

Some smaller video providers are content with allowing customers to get VOD content from the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and Vudu, among others. Some even encourage it, through bundling of OTT services.

A growing number of video operators are turning to other platforms like Roku, delivering local broadcast channels to an app on the STB, and marrying that local content with existing OTT VOD content. Roku just announced a new hybrid box that they say better integrates linear and OTT content, by providing a customizable home screen.

But for those who want to augment (or maybe compete against) OTT content choices with a library of VOD content of their own, eVUE-TV is an option, according to Smith. The software-as-a-service solution also includes its own delivered interactive program guide, which can be delivered to a STB. eVUE-TV can appear as a branded app on a TiVo platform for example – a platform that Evolution also markets. eVUE-TV apps currently support Moxi, Roku, TiVo, iOS, and Android platforms, according to Smith.

“Where eVUE comes into play is rather than be seen as a competitor to OTT, we’re actually trying to provide tools to the operator to better position himself as the video provider of choice,” said Smith. “It’s a complementary platform meant to encourage operators to offer an IP platform, I can now look to remove boxes that are not IP capable and put a new box that can also support these OTT services, because subscribers are looking for choice beyond just what the operator can provide.”

The solution also includes a multiscreen component, allowing the app to appear on smartphones and tablets. Phase one of eVUE-TV focuses on multiscreen in the home, subject to the operator’s content rights. Future iterations may address out-of-home streaming.

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