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How ZeeVee Flipped the Script on Video Distribution

Having moved beyond its coax roots by adding IP- and fiber-based video distribution options, ZeeVee says it doesn’t have to sell ISE 2016 attendees on anything.

Tom LeBlanc

Do you remember when you first heard of ZeeVee?

Most likely it was shortly after the Littleton, Mass.-based video distribution manufacturer launched eight years ago, and it was probably in the context of a conversation about coax.

ZeeVee was all about coax in its early days. It was all about leveraging customers’ existing wires present in just about every house and building to save on labor and solve HD video distribution challenges.

At Integrated Systems Europe 2016, ZeeVee’s talking points have changed. It’s no longer, “coax, coax, coax.” In fact, it has edited that term out in favor of “RF.”

It’s now more like, “RF, category cabling or fiber.”

More ISE 2016 Coverage

“Embracing coax was a marketing spin,” acknowledges Steve Metzger, co-founder and VP of hardware development and operations.

We have a product for RF, fiber and now we have a product for Cat cable. Let’s talk about what you have versus what I need to sell you,” says ZeeVee’s Bob Michaels.

“What we were embracing was distribution of HD video. We built a marketing campaign around video, but really it was about distributing HD video in an affordable way. We always looked at IP. It’s no longer just around the corner. We’re all about cost effective, high-quality video distribution. We’re not wed to anything.” 

The focus for ZeeVee at ISE 2016 is on saving labor and solving HD video distribution challenges.

“It doesn’t have to be so complicated for the end user or the installer,” says ZeeVee president and CEO Bob Michaels. “It should be simple. One of our goals is to simplify video distribution and take the voodoo out of it. It’s what we did on the RF side and what we continue to do.”

In particular during ISE 2016, ZeeVee is focused on educating visitors to Stand 10-N151 about its latest HD and 4K distribution solutions, including ZyPer4K Catx Version which it says is the only uncompressed 4K/UHD solution available using off-the-shelf 10Gb; ZyperMX which distributes video over a standard 100Mb Ethernet network and offers H.264 MPEG-4 video encoding; and ZvMXE IP set-top box compatible with both its ZyPerMX and iSeries offering easy configuration, rapid deployment and can receive any local or Internet sourced streaming content.

Long Road to ISE 2016

It was about two and a half years ago that the folks at ZeeVee, after establishing itself as a provider of video distribution over existing coax, sat down and “had some strong discussions in house about the convergence of AV and IT,” Michaels says.

Those discussions led to surveys of ZeeVee dealers, asking about their visions on where the market is heading and their concerns.

Not surprisingly, many of the AV integration firms in ZeeVee’s dealer base were concerned about acquiring resources to better serve an evolving need for network-based video distribution solutions.

ZeeVee committed to creating a more IT-centric video distribution solution, but not before weighing some questions.

“Do we go out and make a product that is like 100 others out there?” Michaels says, explaining that ZeeVee saw an opportunity to differentiate.

“We really wanted to do something and make a statement, and 4K was coming. We said it has to be 4K capable, IP-based, super simple to set up, be able to go long distances—because we were known for that. We have to be able to add multiple displays and switches because that’s what we do. It had to be affordable. It had to offer use of existing infrastructure.”

Related: ZeeVee’s Chris Scurto on Reinventing IP Video Distribution