A Suite Deal: The Players of COVE (Part 2 of 5 in a series)

When I became a teenager of legal driving age in Florida, I received my first car, a beast of a vehicle handed down to me from my uncle. That lady-killing chariot was none other than a gray 1988 Mercury Cougar. While it may not have been the convertible my friends were driving ("A1A, Beachfront Ave!" as Vanilla Ice would say), I was thrilled to have anything that would run.


Along with this gift/responsibility also came the vicious cycle of getting a job to pay for a car so I could get to my job. So, I hit the local mall to become a retail nomad. I put on my best tie and a splash of Drakkar cologne (it was the early 90s, don't judge me) to begin two years migrating between stores. I did a stint at Musicland, spent time at Godiva and worked at Babbage's, a game and tech store that would eventually become part of Gamestop.


It was my job at Babbage's that first introduced me to technology. Besides games and game systems (go Nintendo!), we also sold the first 1x speed CD-ROMs. They were about $500 a pop, and selling one of them was like trying to sell fortune cookies to palm readers. While I felt a little lost in the woods trying to understand a product that would replace my beloved 5 ¼" floppy disks, I was now hooked on tech, thus adding a new level to my temple of geekdom.

Fast forward 16 years, working on COVE, and I'm geeking out all over again. There are a number of reasons why I really enjoy working on this project, but one of the main elements that gets me jazzed is the suite of video players built on the COVE infrastructure. The nature of COVE allows for the OawvInRaf4 of a wide variety of video player solutions. The only limits being our imaginations, resources and needs as a system. While they will be separate initially, the potential exists to share content across players to create powerful user experiences that better serve our communities.


In this sense COVE is very much like an open-air mall. COVE is the foundation, the plumbing, the wiring and all the other support elements that create empty storefronts waiting to be filled by eager and able vendors responding to the tastes of the consumer. The various stores are the multitude of video players available to the user, each with content complementing the other.


Currently, there are three players either built or being built. Check out each below.



The PBS KIDS GO! video player and player station modules launched on September 2 of last year. The player currently contains over 500 video assets including over 100 full episodes and 60 Spanish clips/full episodes from 15 PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO! properties. Besides residing on the PBS KIDS GO! web site, the video player module can also be implemented on station websites, offering co-branding opportunities and localized on-air schedule information. This player is a great example of the adaptability of COVE to support varied content experiences. As Director of PBS KIDS GO!, Silvia Lovato has a hard time masking the enthusiasm she has for the player she and her team built:


Besides giving kids 24/7 access to a lot of our programming, one of the most exciting things for us has been to finally be able to connect video to our curriculum-based interactive content. As kids watch videos, they can click on a little game control button and see links to games to relate to that specific video, giving them the chance to play with the concepts or ideas they were learning on the video. As the web keeps evolving, we'll keep making tweaks to our player (offered both on pbskidsgo.org and station web sites) and looking for ways to make these connections even more clear. 


The path is very bright for the PBS KIDS GO! player. Future plans include fresh content, new community features and interactive overlays that will allow kids to play educational games directly within the videos they are watching.


PBS Video Player and Local/National Service

Currently in production, the PBS Video Player offers full-length episodic content from some of the most popular PBS programs. Set to launch with over 100 hours of content, the video experience features an eye-catching front-end design built on top of some really robust user functionality. The Local/National service will be available for stations as a stand-alone full-feature video portal. Besides containing all of the iconic PBS content found in the national player, stations will not only be able to customize the look and feel of the experience, but they will also be able to fully program what content will appear. This means local and national content can be displayed at "shoulder-level," providing the opportunity the experience to the needs and tastes of the community.



The Education Digital Content Asset Repository, or EDCAR, is also currently in production, and will tap into the COVE platform for the management and delivery of video and audio based content to station digital education services. Part of the EDCAR vision is to provide teachers and their students with all-day/every-day access to high-quality, purpose-built digital media assets cleared for their use and proven to build 21st century skills in flexible learning environments. Local stations will be able to brand the experience and deliver it to their local education community.


This is just a small taste of what the current suite of players is capable of, much like the samples you get at the mall food court. Contact Station Products & Services at pbsi_stationservices@pbs.org if you want to learn more. We would also like to hear what you think would make a good potential player. What audience would it serve? What type of content would it have? How would it serve stations? Leave a comment and let us know!


Oh, and by the way, I turned 16 in 1992 when my uncle gave me the Cougar. That sound you just heard was my social life grinding to a halt ... just like the car's breaks.

One Comment

  1. Posted February 5, 2009 at 11:22 AM | Permalink | Reply

    What a great metaphor Max!
    You are spot-on.

    Dan Haggerty
    Associate Digital Video Producer, PBSi

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