In an era characterized by increasing demand for mobility, convenience and speed, the phrase “watching TV” has become a somewhat misleading term as more users turn to their mobile devices to get their programming fixes. But, the truth is that somebody has to build the technology that makes such an experience possible, and nobody does it better than Atlanta’s own Clearleap.
In addition to developing the technology that allows viewers to stream content on their mobile devices, tablets and PCs, Clearleap’s platform also enables cable operators like Time Warner Cable and individual TV brands like Food Network to place ad breaks, manage digital subscription access and measure user data.
Clearleap founder and CEO Braxton Jarratt, who had been working at Cox Communications in the early 2000s, and later at N2 Broadband (now owned by Ericsson), says Clearleap was born after observing a need for more innovation in the internet and digital TV spaces. In late 2007, Jarratt and a small team left Ericsson to see what could be done.
“And so when we started [Clearleap], our bet was that the industry was ultimately going to embrace the distribution of content over the Internet, but that when they did it, they were going to be very measured about how,” Jarratt explained. “And so we built a platform that enabled them to embrace that kind of delivery but still have control and confidence in being able to limit piracy and some of the loss that the music industry had seen.”
The Netflix Revolution
Clearleap’s bet paid off when Netflix took the innovative step of putting its content online. The industry changed again when HBO, traditionally very protective of its content, announced that subscribers would now be able to access its content from anywhere via HBO Go. Since then, the rest of the industry has been scrambling to catch up.
“I’d say that in the last 12-18 months, we’ve seen a complete embrace of putting all the content you could possibly put online in as many forms as you can everywhere you look,” Jarratt said. “And that’s been fueling our growth as a company now, because we made that bet earlier than most that this would happen.”
Jarratt says businesses like Clearleap are able to grow and succeed in Atlanta because of the legacy of other Atlanta-based corporations like Cox, Scientific Atlanta and Turner Networks, who worked together throughout the 80s and 90s to build much of the cable TV industry that exists today.
“And from all three of those places now, you’ve seen a huge amount of new businesses starting up, big businesses coming to Atlanta and just a large expansion of what’s going on,” he said, pointing to companies like N2 Broadband and Concurrent Technologies as some of the most successful examples of entrepreneurial activity in the on-demand and TV spaces.
More Aggregators on the Rise
And then there is the example of Clearleap itself, which today has an international presence in North America, Europe and, most recently, Africa. In addition to their Atlanta headquarters, Clearleap also has offices in Amsterdam and Frankfurt. Jarratt says international expansion will continue to be a major goal in 2014.
As for the future of digital TV, it’s no longer a question of whether or not the internet is a viable medium to deliver content, but of where viewers will go to access it. Jarratt says the challenge will be for people to figure out which services to use and how to locate the content they want to watch. But, he is confident that companies like Amazon, Apple and perhaps a few others will find a way to mitigate the confusion.
“And I think in the longer term, what’s going to happen is there’s going to be more aggregators of content,” he said. “You’ll still have the ability to go directly to a brand like HBO or HGTV or a sports network, but more consumers are going to be able to go to a single place and search for shows and have a recommendation that they care about that are specific to them.”