IPTVThere are reports coming out, including from Bloomberg, that Microsoft and Ericsson are in negotiations for Ericsson to buy Microsoft’s Mediaroom middleware platform. If the report proves true, it will be yet another shake up in the evolving IPTV middleware market. A number of these platforms have changed hands, or just shut down.

The most recent middleware episode involved probably the pioneer in IPTV middleware, at least in North America. NSN sold off their IPTV middleware platform to Accenture. That platform began as Myrio,  although the name was changed a couple of times after NSN bought the business. At one time, it was called Home Entertainment 3.0.

Before the NSN IPTV divestiture, Cisco pulled the plug on their IPTV middleware platform in 2010. That platform was a part of Cisco’s IPTV Service Delivery Platform (ISDP), which was their attempt at an end-to-end turnkey IPTV offer. Ironically, Cisco pushed the few customers they had in North America towards Microsoft Mediaroom as a middleware replacement.

Most IPTV providers in the U.S. are small, rural video service providers, at least when measured by actual deployments. When measured by IPTV subscriber counts, larger carriers dominate, with AT&T, CenturyLink, and some smaller regional players like Consolidated/SureWest, among others. All of these carriers currently use MS Mediaroom. This market make-up always makes for an interesting dynamic when these middleware shake-ups occur.

Companies like Ericsson and Accenture are interested in landing service providers like AT&T and CenturyLink. But maybe not so motivated to land a significant number of tier 3 IPTV providers, whose collective subscriber counts may not garner interest from an Ericsson, or someone like them.

That dynamic has opened the door for probably the two market leaders for middleware in the U.S. today, Minerva Networks and Innovative Systems. Both have had success in migrating existing IPTV providers over from this growing middleware ‘graveyard’ to their middleware platforms of iTVFusion and APMAX, respectively.

If this Mediaroom rumor proves true, will Ericsson adopt the growing number of tier 3 providers who have recently migrated to Mediaroom, or will it open up more migration opportunities for Minerva and Innovative Systems?