Marc Putman • Project coordinator, UxP
“We’re working on a WordPress for VoD platforms”
- During our discussion, we found out more about UxP’s mission to save European independent VoD platforms time and money through the development of a useful new tool
We sat down with Marc Putman, owner and CEO of OUTtv and president of EUROVOD, the association of independent European VoD platforms. Putman is also the coordinator of UxP – an acronym that stands for Unified eXchange Platform – an innovative project aimed at linking European VoD platforms. The initiative involves six partners; four of these are VoD platforms and two are media technical solution companies from three different EU countries (the Netherlands, France and Poland). The project is open to including new partners interested in creating a technical pillar within EUROVOD.
Cineuropa: What is UxP? What’s your main mission?
Marc Putman: The project is quite simple to explain. We’re working on a WordPress system for VoD platforms. If you want me to summarise it in one sentence, that’s our ambition. It sounds easy, but it’s a very complex task. As technical standardisation in the VoD industry is sorely lacking, we believe that this project takes a first step towards working on a basic technical framework. With our partners, we’re building an open platform so that VoD companies can save development time and further investments.
In detail, we’re building an exchange platform for the VoD sector to reduce costs for technical development, and to develop new functionalities. Therefore, we aim to create a common framework to exchange modules between VoD platforms, start building and testing the existing and new modules to be made available on the exchange platform, and open UxP to other VoD services in Europe.
What about your partners?
We have some commercial partners, such as the European streaming outlet aimed at the LGBTI community, OUTtv, and France’s NokZeDoc, which takes care of the B2C propositions – since we’re the ones who sell the product – and others like the Netherlands’ Media Choice Technologies, Maxx-xs and Poland’s Tongariro, which takes care of building the ecosystem for the VoD platforms. These are the two sides of the coin. The idea is to find ways to build a common structure where modules can be created, configured, re-used by others and partially readapted by each platform. The time and financial resources saved thanks to the implementation of UxP will allow platforms to focus on addressing new audiences and retain their existing one. In this respect, the European Commission believes that our initiative will grant European independent platforms more power and more prospects for growth. When I joined EUROVOD as a non-filmmaker, I realised that there were many people driven by their love for film, but not always commercially orientated in terms of audience development and not fully aware of the digital market’s potential.
What stage are you at now?
Last year, the outbreak hit, and we didn’t have enough time to conduct a feasibility study with the platforms interested in joining the project. So we had to postpone it, and we officially kicked it off in January this year. We decided to analyse the participating platforms’ technical infrastructure in order to find similarities and differences, and thus plan the creation of modules accordingly. The initial results of this inquiry demonstrated that creating modules is certainly a possible modus operandi, whilst at this stage, interconnecting the existing ones seems more complicated. We figured out that most platforms are buying different modules from other players. These platforms are not always able to control them independently, either because they don’t possess the required knowledge or simply because they are not authorised to modify them. Meanwhile, other partners developed their own ecosystems, and in these cases, the integration work for us is a much easier task. After this research phase, our work will focus on realising the technical framework.
What are the main challenges that the project is encountering?
The first thing that comes to mind is the trust among the technical partners involved, since you have to open up your kitchen to your potential competitors. Secondly, the COVID-related circumstances make it difficult to operate this project, as the partners only meet via Zoom and other digital platforms, while physical contact is crucial to gain trust and to create a common vision. Thirdly, we have come to the point where, after our research and fieldwork, the actual proof of concept will be built, and this process will show us whether the idea of this Unified eXchange Platform will work. Finally, we will prepare a new proposal for 2022-2024.
On behalf of our association EUROVOD, I do invite [potential technical or commercial partners] to share their interest in participating and benefiting from the support that the EU provides in order to develop more intelligent functionalities within VoD services, implemented to stimulate faster growth and enable them to compete adequately with the traditional US-based streaming services.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.