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Comcast Buys an Online 'Platform’

Comcast Corp. has acquired thePlatform Inc., a Seattle media publishing delivery firm that already was a supplier, to help in its efforts to expand the cable company’s distribution of video services over the Internet.

Comcast wouldn’t comment on the price, which PaidContent.org said was between $80 million and $100 million. The purchased company already provides key management software for “The Fan,” a multimedia player that gives Comcast high-speed Internet customers access to a range of video content from deals Comcast has made with The Walt Disney Co., Fox Sports and other providers.

ThePlatform will operate as a standalone subsidiary of Comcast Interactive Media, the unit created in December to develop and acquire content for Comcast services that could run on multiple platforms, including the Web and mobile media platforms. ThePlatform will continue to provide its media publishing system to other media company customers, including ABC News (for ABC News New On Demand), Amp’d Mobile, Verizon Communications Inc. (for its V CAST mobile video service) and Starz Entertainment Group (for its Vongo broadband video download service).

Seattle-based thePlatform, has about 70 employees.

Sam Schwartz, executive vice president of strategy and development for Comcast Interactive Media, said in a statement from Comcast: “We will fully support thePlatform in serving and expanding its growing customer base, as well as work with them to deliver the best integrated video-rich experience to our customers.”

It’s been reported widely, including in Multichannel News on June 5, that Comcast has been exploring ways to use the Internet to deliver video programming to customers anywhere in the country. The move, if pursued, would mean the nation’s largest cable operator would be marketing TV-like services to households served by other cable companies.

Scott Crowder, chief operating officer at Entriq Inc., which provides security services to multiplatform content providers, said most big cable companies are in hot pursuit of ways to let their customers download content to portable devices or personal computers (via Internet Protocol transmission). “If you’re a serious content aggregator, you’re going to need a portable or IP play or you’re well behind the curve,” he said, predicting portable and IP extensions for cable companies could be announced by some later this year and more widely available within two years.