JW Player Gets into Chromecast, Puts Second Screen Strategy in Play

7/23/14Follow @jpruth

New York-based JW Player on Tuesday said its Web video player had come to Google Chromecast, with plans to stream content on more connected devices.

Never heard of the JW Player? CEO and co-founder Dave Otten says that it is possible you have already used it: “If you watch video off of YouTube, there’s a decent chance you’re watching it on a JW Player whether you knew it or not.”

The player, he says, is used by video creators, universities, media companies, and Fortune 500 companies to publish video for online and mobile viewing. Otten says JW offers a player that works across all types of devices that publishers can use to simplify branding and ads. Bringing the JW Player 6.9 to Chromecast, Google’s streaming media player, he says, lets creators put their videos on connected televisions while offering additional content on “second screen” mobile devices.

Otten says his company was founded in 2008 as Longtail Video and was looking for a way to help publishers monetize videos online. The company soon realized that video players are key to the so-called last mile in video consumption, making them a crucial place for publishers and ad servers to connect with viewers.

Longtail Video came across a video player that was already seeing significant use and moved to acquire it. The JW video player was created in 2005 by Jeroen Wijering, Otten says, as an open source project. “YouTube used it as its original player,” he says.

Otten saw a chance to expand the video player’s distribution beyond the already frequent downloads by developers, who used it embed content on websites. “We’re talking 2,000 [downloads] a day,” he says. After Longtail Video acquired the player and ramped up distribution, the file downloads quickly increased to 20,000 per day, Otten says. Now more than 2 million websites use the JW Player, he says, and 9 billion video streams each month go through the video player. Wijering joined the company as chief digital architect. Last October, Longtail Video changed its name to JW Player.

The company has been profitable since 2010, and raised $5 million in 2012 in a Series B round from Greycroft Partners and Cue Ball Capital. That funding, Otten says, went in part towards hiring marketing staff and to create what he calls a network of connected players.

“Because JW is on so many different sites, we can begin to understand how people consume video across those sites,” he says. Data on what the audience watches can be used by publishers to make informed decisions on program scheduling, Otten says. “Publishers want to get more views and more ads in their content.”

Thanks to being on Chromecast, Otten says, JW Player has a number of ways to also leverage second screen devices. If someone is watching video through the JW Player on a tablet or other device while at home, they can send that content to their televisions. When video ads appear on television via the player, viewers can interact with the ads on their smartphones and tablets.

It is not just about ads though, Otten says. Sporting events streamed through JW Player and Chromecast to televisions can include player stats that viewers can see on their connected mobile devices.

The company has made a few recent hires that president Chris Mahl says will help further its ambitions in the video scene. Eric Hoffert, previously a software architect at Spotify, now serves as chief technology officer. JW Player also recently hired John Luther to be vice president of devices and strategy. “For the last four years, [Luther] was the product manager of Chrome video at Google,” says Mahl.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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