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Brightcove opens IPTV service to public

Free video delivery service, which heightens competition with Google and Yahoo, is already being used by some.

Brightcove unveiled a free version of its Internet video delivery service this week, heightening competition with rivals Google, Yahoo and others to become the de facto Internet television provider.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based upstart develops a suite of technology and services for content owners to broadcast video on the Internet and make money from it. In recent months, the service has been available by invitation only to media companies such as The New York Times and Discovery Communications.

Late Wednesday night, Brightcove introduced a "public preview" inviting any content owner to set up a video channel with its tools. Potential partners can include a professional with a "TV channel about diabetes or (one with a show) on cooking tips," said Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Brightcove and former Macromedia chief technology officer.

Already, relative unknowns like Life Balance Media, which owns a healthy-living information site, and National Lampoon's Toga! are using Brightcove.

Allaire called Brightcove "the democratization of TV," thanks to the plummeting cost of video distribution over the Internet and the ubiquity of broadband. In recent years, people's interest in video online has mushroomed, causing companies like Google, Veoh Networks, YouTube, Ifilm and others to race to build superior video offerings and attract advertisers to the fold.

Because the transition from TV to the Web is happening so fast, many of the companies' business models have yet to be .

Despite its public opening, Brightcove has yet to finalize the economic tiers available to content owners. It has several in the pipeline. One option is for video producers to sell their own advertising in the form of preroll video or rich-media banner ads. Brightcove also sells advertising to display across a network of video channels in a business model that would enable content owners to share in the revenue. Also with Brightcove tools, content companies can sell video to viewers and split revenue.

Google also lets video producers sell material on a pay-per-view basis.

Brightcove will restrict free access to video delivery, maintaining a premium on some video-advertising services for now.

"The economic details of publishing content into the system won't be available until this summer," Allaire said.