How Playcast is changing gaming on TV

By Natan Edelsburg 

Television and gaming have always been attached at the hip. Whether you have an Xbox, Playstation or Wii, you most likely hook your console up to a television. One of the next evolutions in gaming is happening with a Jerusalem based startup called Playcast Media. Playcast “licenses streaming rights from all of the world’s major game publishers” and ” partners with cable, IP and ‘over-the-top’ TV network operators to deliver these games directly to subscriber’s home.” They’re currently licensing games from all the major publishers and are redefining the relationship between TV and gaming.

Lost Remote met with Playcast and COO Elad Dror at Jerusalem Venture Partners, a leading, “venture capital firm with over $900 million under management.” Dror demoed their cloud based gaming that’s delivered via set top boxes. Their platform works seamlessly between devices and boasts a library of games for all ages. They’re currently in talks with “many of the cable providers around the world and will be announcing something in the US at the end of 2012 or early 2013.” Their service simply appears as a TV channel. Here’s a video of Dror giving a demo of the product followed by an interview.

Lost Remote:  What TV companies are you working with?
Elad Dror: Announced: Portugal Telecom (IPTV), Bouygues Telecom (IPTV, Cable), CJH (Cable)
Portugal (Portugal Telecom), France (Bouygues Telecom), Singapore (SingTel), Korea (CJ Hallo Vision)
Playcast has the access to more than 800,000 households by now, and will reach 2,000,000 households by the end of 2012.
11% of the households that have been exposed to the service performed a monthly subscription.

LR: How was the company launched?
Dror: We launch services by markets with local operators. Typically, a service is first launched with a soft market trial (100’s of subscribers), then to the first adopters markets and then to the entire footprint. During the first market trial also the content packages are tuned for the specific market.

LR: Is it challenging being based in Israel in addition to the US?
Dror: We have a Network Operations Center in Israel serving our worldwide activities 24/7 and we are in the process of building strong US presence for business, local support and go-to-market partnerships. Playcast’s RnD center is located in Israel, which is one of the most advanced countries when it’s related to video compression and TV services.

LR: How are you changing the social TV industry? What partners do you have?
Dror: Cloud gaming by definition is more social and interactive than passive video watching. By converting all family members to “gamers” TVs become the social hub of the household. We partner with most game publishers and with TV operators.

LR: Why is cloud gaming the future of TV, etc?
Dror: Cloud gaming services brings gaming to more households and to more family members inside the household. Hence it shifts the viewership from video to more interactive highly engaged types of entertainment. Cloud gaming opens more social / interactive opportunities and in the future will develop more specific features, e.g. gaming live events and competitions; combinations of gaming and video content; playing across platforms, across devices; playing at home and on the go; etc.

LR: How does the technology work?
Dror: Users can select any game from the library and play as if they would play it locally. In the cloud we virtualize and run the full GA version of the game. The “screens” are then being compressed to a video stream and sent in realtime to the users’ display (any display, TV, tablet, smart phone or PC can display video), with extremely low latency and in very high quality.