PBS planning for a systemwide online video player is in its infancy, as the network and a group of member stations experiment with software, according to Jason Seiken, PBS senior v.p., interactive.
PBS is considering player technology for both downloaded and streaming video, he said an e-mail interview.
Future versions of the player could help pubTV bring in revenue. It could show underwriting credits and keep statistics on viewing, and it could require payment for watching selected videos if stations or PBS offer them for pay.
In the Q&A on these pages, Chief Content Officer John Boland said the player would have digital rights management capabilities that would allow playback only during designated rights windows.
Boland says having a single player for public TV will simplify online viewing for users. Frontline led the field by offering its programs on its branded player last year, and Nova has one, too.
The player PBS is trying isn’t an application that the user would have to download but a modest amount of code in a web page that “surrounds” the Apple QuickTime player found on many computers, Seiken explains.
Though PBS is experimenting now with QuickTime, Seiken says it’s considering Adobe’s Flash format, which “is rapidly emerging as the industry standard.”
The testers aim to learn what’s required for care and feeding of the player, both for producers and for stations, he said. The experimental player now offers only six short PBS promo clips, but eventually it will bring together a comprehensive collection.
The player is a key piece of PBS’s plans to expand the availability of online video, Seiken said. The PBS budget calls for automation of the process of posting video on the Web.
The BBC recently gave the go-ahead for its online video player, which uses the same Kontiki grid or peer-to-peer technology that minimizes server costs for the nonprofit Open Media Network that distributes videos for a number of U.S. stations.
Kontiki holds down costs by enlisting willing viewers’ computers to help download video files to other users who want the same files. But PBS and NPR web execs have objected to giving users the chore of downloading and installing the necessary client application.
“We’re definitely interested in technologies that help reduce costs and provide a high level of service,” Seiken commented. “We’ve looked at OMN’s solution as well as many others.”
Web page posted May 16, 2007
Copyright 2007 by Current Publishing Committee