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January 29, 2014 at 3:59 PM

Seahawks Super Bowl extra sweet for thePlatform

Having to work through the Super Bowl could be painful for a Seahawks fan, unless your job is helping millions of people watch the game online.

Where the magic happens Sunday for thePlatform.

Where the magic happens Sunday for thePlatform.

That’s the case at thePlatform, a relatively low profile Seattle tech company that’s coordinating live streaming of the game to millions of people on behalf of broadcaster Fox Sports.

About 15 of the company’s 170 employees will be staffing a control room Sunday — and technical lead Ron Mackley will be on hand at Fox Sports offices in Los Angeles — to be sure people can watch the game on their iPads and PCs, as well as TV.

The company couldn’t ask for a better chance to show off its capabilities as it steps up its emphasis on handling live-event streaming.

“It’s a really unique kind of game-day pressure that’s hard to get anywhere else,” said Chief Executive Ian Blaine.

Blaine, a veteran of Aldus and Adobe, founded the company in 2000 anticipating the rise of streaming video and need for services to manage the connections involved. It was acquired by Comcast in 2006.

From left: thePlatform CEO Ian Blaine, SVP Mike Horwitz and Ron Mackley, Super Bowl technical lead.

From left: thePlatform CEO Ian Blaine, SVP Mike Horwitz and Ron Mackley, Super Bowl technical lead.

The company has since become a major player in the business. From headquarters in downtown Seattle, it operates a sort of digital switchyard that manages and monetizes video streams for broadcasters and the largest cable companies in North America. When you watch a TV show through an app on a PC, phone, tablet, game console or smart TV, chances are pretty good thePlatform was involved.

But Sunday will be the company’s first time handling a Super Bowl.

“When we started, we hoped for a day like this — in terms of devices and bandwidth all being aligned — and weren’t quite sure it was going to happen so it’s fantastic that it has,” he said. “With the home team playing in the event it just makes it that much sweeter.”

The company began working with Fox Sports on its NFL broadcasts during the playoffs and is now gearing up for Sunday’s big game, when it will coordinate viewing sessions through Fox apps on computers and tablets.

The Winter Olympics are coming up next. Blaine wouldn’t say whether it’s going to work on streaming those events, but it seems probable, since broadcaster NBC Sports is a corporate cousin.

On Sunday the crew in thePlatform control room will get pizza. They already have packages of Skittles at the ready in the control room, plus plenty of Seahawks décor and jerseys all around.

“We’re actually kind of excited about it. We’ve got a bigger screen here than we do at home,” said Mike Horwitz, senior vice president of engineering.

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