The Greater Boston Internet Video Cluster

3/6/08Follow @wroush

Boston may take a back seat to Los Angeles and New York as a locus for TV, film, and video production, but it’s front and center when it comes to the array of technologies that go into publishing and monetizing video content on the Internet.

Not so long ago, video lovers were pretty much limited to what was being shown live on broadcast or cable TV, what they recorded on their VCRs or DVRs, or what they could buy, rent, or borrow at Blockbuster or Netflix. But now an increasing fraction of traditional TV and movie content—along with a huge tidal wave of brand-new content, much of it generated by consumers themselves—is available over the Internet. The basic enabling technology here, of course, is the spread of broadband Internet connectivity to homes and offices. But we don’t just have Comcast and Verizon to thank: there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes technology involved in Internet video distribution, from the servers that host the content to the players that show it on your computer to the software that inserts the (inevitable) ads. And it turns out that a lot of the companies building this technology are right here in Boston.

Because it’s so central to the future of media, this is an industry cluster that deserves to be spotlighted. So, paralleling our earlier roundup of the area’s music-and-technology companies, we’ve assembled a preliminary list of Boston-area online video companies below, with links to our most relevant coverage. These are all companies whose primary businesses relate to video accessed or delivered over the Internet or mobile networks, or to some other aspect of the deepening marriage between TV and the Internet.

When we publish these technology-cluster stories, we realize that our lists aren’t definitive. In fact, we’re counting on you to help us make them more complete. So if you know of an Internet video company based somewhere in New England that we missed, leave a comment below or write to us at editors@xconomy.com.

And one more thing. While many Boston-area video production companies, advertising and marketing agencies, Web design companies, and broadcast TV stations are aggressively exploring Internet video, they aren’t on this list. If they were, it would be a lot longer. It’s also worth noting that Boston’s influence in the Internet video arena extends far beyond New England; we have not dipped into the long list of online video startups funded by Boston-area venture firms but headquartered in other regions (e.g. Palo Alto’s Metacafe, funded by Highland Capital Partners, or Seattle’s thePlatform, which is now part of Comcast but was originally funded by Spark Capital).

Without further ado:

Aerva Cambridge, MA
Web-accessible interactive digital displays, allowing audience interaction via SMS text messaging. (News item)

Akamai
Cambridge, MA
Global content distribution network for video and other high-bandwidth content. (News item)

Avid
Tewksbury, MA
Software and equipment for digital post-production video editing and storage. (Profile)

Backchannelmedia Boston, MA
Software allowing cable operators to show interactive pop-up ads during cable TV shows that lead consumers to related Web content. (Profile)

Blackwave Acton, MA
Internet video storage for more efficient and cost-effective content delivery. (News item)

Boston.TV Boston, MA
Locally produced, Internet-only food, arts, entertainment, sports, business, and lifestyle coverage. (Video)

Brightcove Cambridge, MA
Professional Internet video publishing platform, including customized Web-based video players preconfigured to deliver various types of advertising.

Buzzwire Bedford, MA
Streaming video, audio, and radio for mobile phones. (Profile)

ChoiceStream Cambridge, MA
Software that delivers personalized DVD, Internet video, and TV schedule recommendations based on user preferences.

… Next Page »

Wade Roush is Chief Correspondent and Editor At Large at Xconomy. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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  • http://www.diginovations.com Michael Kolowich

    What a terrific list…and a tremendously exciting time for the Boston area around the internet/TV convergence!

    At DigiNovations, we’re working principally on the content side, but we’ve geared our entire business around internet TV channel implementation and web video content production. Our most visible effort was the design and implementation of Mitt TV (http://mittromney.permissiontv.com) for the Romney for President campaign, but we now run many dozens of internet TV channels for companies and organizations all over New England.

    I also author a blog called “Web Video Expert”, that focuses on what businesspeople should know about this convergence. It’s at http://www.web-video-expert.com/blog

    Michael Kolowich
    Executive Producer
    DigiNovations / North Bridge Productions
    Concord, Massachusetts

  • http://dlweinreb.wordpress.com Daniel Weinreb

    Although I think that downloading of movies is an exciting idea, David Pogue, in the New York Times, makes an argument that downloads won’t kill the DVD any time very soon:

    http://video.on.nytimes.com/index.jsp?fr_story=FRdamp254885

    Only 1/2 of Americans have high-speed Internet, and he doesn’t think that will change very soon. Most of the rest of what he says is about very practical considerations of consumers who want to watch movies; not directly relevant to what you’re talking about. (But the little film of Pogue is worth watching if only because he’s funny.)

    Anyway, thanks very much for the list of companies. It’s great to see so much activity happening right here!

    – Dan Weinreb, Common Angels

  • Jason

    Eliot Mack’s software is a game changer.

    http://www.cinital.com/

    86a Sherman St
    Cambridge, MA 02140

    877-CINITAL (246-4825)

    http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2008/01/06/a_new_script_for_moviemaking/

  • http://www.diginovations.com Michael Kolowich

    I met a really interesting new company this week — based in Wellesley — that uses internet video as an integral part of the video production process. It certainly belongs in this “Internet Video Cluster”.

    The company is called PortalVideo (http://www.portalvideo.com). The description from their site with notes in brackets from me: “Our unique transcript-based editing system [over the internet] dramatically reduces the time and cost of creating a rough-cut. Make a video edit [on any internet-connected computer] by cutting and pasting text from the transcript. Collaborate easily with clients and workgroups anytime, anywhere over the internet.”

    Michael Kolowich
    DigiNovations

  • http://www.3playmedia.com/ Tole Khesin

    Cambridge-based 3Play Media (www.3playmedia.com) produces cost-effective captioning and interactive transcripts for online video. This is essential for a few reasons:

    1. User experience: Interactive transcripts – like the one implemented here – http://www.20onfive.com/ -
    create a much more engaging and interactive experience. Users can search for or click on any word to jump to that part of the video. Users can also clip and share a specific section of a video simply by highlighting the spoken text.

    2. SEO: transcribed video is much easier to index by search engines, and thus becomes much more discoverable. However, with so much online video, only a cost-effective, scalable solution is realistic on a large scale.

    3. Accessibility: Last week’s passage of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act mandates captioning for certain types of online video, including all Internet content that also airs on TV. Accessibility requirements will likely become even more stringent in the coming years.

    4. Translation into foreign languages can really only be accomplished with a high quality transcript.