For Apple TV’s Latest App, No Consumers Welcome

The number of apps available on the Apple TV platform is a staggering 8,000- plus, and they run the gamut of entertainment and lifestyle—2,000-plus gaming apps, 1,600- plus video apps, workout apps, travel apps, shopping and cooking apps, you name it.

But almost every app available on Apple TV has one thing in common: they’re meant for and accessible by consumers.

“Almost” indeed—5th Kind, a digital workflow backbone company based in Culver City, Calif., has its content production platform used by every major studio and by commercial productions, to share dailies and other filming assets around the world. And instead of looking at just offering its own in-house software platform, 5th Kind founder and CEO Steve Cronan has taken the company to both the iOS and Android platforms, and now, to Apple TV.

The app—which is integrated with Akamai’s content-delivery network (CDN)—offers hi-def viewing of assets, inserts instant watermarking on files, takes advantage of Apple TV Siri voice controls, supports approximately 50 video and 300 image formats and keeps security—always a Hollywood headache—in mind with independent security evaluations.

Cronan spoke with NextTV about the uniqueness of the app, how 5th Kind’s intent was to let studios view their assets the same way a consumer uses Netflix and whether or not other industry media and entertainment service providers will go the same, platform-agnostic route for their offerings. An edited transcript follows. Apple declined to comment on the 5th Kind app.

NTV:Apple TV is largely a consumer-facing, entertainment-only platform. Just how rare is an app like 5th Kind’s on this platform, an app geared toward an industry-only segment? Is there anything comparable, or has 5th Kind completely broken new ground here?

Cronan: As far as we’re aware, we’re the first company who is focused on this market to release a free streaming app for the device. Historically they have been custom builds on various hardware set-top boxes and can be quite expensive.

NTV:Just how important is Akamai’s CDN role in the new app?

Cronan: We feel it’s extremely important to deliver a high-quality, seamless experience no matter where you are and Akamai, with over 100,000 servers globally, allows us to deliver that securely.

NTV:Security is paramount. Can you walk us through the steps 5th Kind has taken to ensure dailies and other assets aren’t compromised on the Apple TV platform?

Cronan: On the fly, watermarking across all file types on the device is native with no delay to streaming and no additional back-end processing costs. Secure streaming protocols such as HLS are also essential as well as logging all action for access tracking.

The app has also been through stringent internal source code review and is currently being reviewed by [security firm] Independent Security Evaluators.

NTV:Does the 5th Kind Apple TV app perhaps suggest a larger industry trend, that media and entertainment service providers will continue to look at non-traditional platforms to serve their clients?

Cronan: I think the days of expensive third-party set-top and screener devices are over, and to a larger degree, cable channels. Just as Apple shifted a huge area of the software market with the introduction of the app store to the phones and tablets, they will do the same to the way we consume software and content on our televisions.

It should also be noted that we are coming out with v6 in Q1 of next year and this is the first release of a complete overhaul of the 5th Kind [digital asset management system].