The triple play is so 2006. Cable has a new trifecta
VOD, iTV and advanced advertising were three of the most-discussed topics at The Cable Show. Here is a brief look at some of the exhibitors and their offerings related to these topics.
• Aptiv Digital showed its Passport Echo interface, designed specifically for HD/DVR STBs; the Passport DCT, an interactive navigation suite; its Video Mosaic, which enables viewers to watch multiple scaled video streams; PassTime Games, which viewers can play while watching TV; and iSubscribe, which allows viewers to purchase service offerings with their remote.
• Art Streams offers a screensaver for TV screens of all sizes, and for mobile phones, with the artwork of Jeffrey Paul. The dynamic images change about every eight seconds, and it's a lot more interesting than a black screen. And a lot prettier.
• Aquarius Broadcasting Corp., an adult VOD network that launched last April, is now available in 9.5 million homes. Enough said.
|• BigBand Networks Inc. showcased its addressable advertising, IPTV over DOCSIS and enhanced TV apps. And the company integrated its switched broadcast solution with TV Guide's iGuide.
• BroadView Software displayed its on-demand service, which offers on-demand scheduling, multi-platform content delivery, analytics, navigation trees, multiple system support , complex program metadata and CableLabs on-demand metadata.
• Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. showed off its My TV Guide service. The personalized guidance tools span the linear TV, Internet and mobile platforms.
• Griffin Media Research marketed its Griffin: On-Demand study, which is devoted entirely to documenting the value of the on-demand audience.
• Hillcrest Labs previewed its new interface—with visual icons instead of text for viewers to sort through TV programming, movies, downloaded pictures, etc. A doughnut-shaped remote controls a cursor that you can move to the different icons on the screen, and then click on them. Definitely one of the most innovative products I saw at the show.
• ICTV unveiled its ActiveVideo product. ActiveVideo Channels can link to an interactive Web experience, and the ActiveVideo P:Mosaic offers personalized navigation and simultaneous views of multiple channels. Great example of a Web media experience on the TV.
• Imagine Communications marketed its quality on-demand (QOD) product suite, which it said enables the delivery of 50 percent more VOD, switched digital video (SDV) and digital broadcast streams per QAM channel.
• SeaChange International unveiled its Axiom Core 4.0 on-demand management software (which now supports third-party servers from Cisco Systems Inc., Concurrent and Motorola Inc.) and its 100-percent-flash-based MediaServer Flash Streamer. The company demonstrated products at the show with a Cisco content delivery system (CDS) server.
• Tandberg Television displayed a live T-commerce app ported to meet CableLabs' open standards for enhanced TV (ETV) and its OpenStream SDV solution.
|• Zodiac Interactive showed its new zidgets, which I call "Google Maps on the TV," but it's actually powered by Yahoo. You can search for local restaurants, check the weather and order a pizza while still watching TV.
—Traci Patterson, Web/News Editor - CED, Editor - xOD Capsule
Scientific Atlanta, Digeo lend active support to OCAP
At The Cable Show's first OCAP Developers Conference, equipment providers were announcing or reiterating their readiness for the migration to the technology. Scientific Atlanta announced an OCAP developer program with iTV specialist itaas, and Digeo introduced two OCAP-compatible products.
Developers enrolled in itaas' istart OCAP developer program will gain access to the Scientific Atlanta OCAP platform, including documentation, developer tools, STBs, online downloads and the istart conference. The istart support team will also provide technical support and assistance to accelerate OCAP application development.
Digeo, meanwhile, introduced its Moxi for OpenCable Application Platform and Moxi HD DVR.
Moxi HD DVR
Moxi for OCAP is a software-based version of the Moxi user interface, optimized to run on lower-end STBs and other hardware using OCAP middleware. The HD-capable Moxi for OCAP software integrates advanced services such as interactive content apps, VOD and PPV, and it can be easily deployed through normal in-line software updates.
The DVR model is Digeo's follow-up to the Moxi Media Center. It incorporates nearly twice the storage of the Moxi Media Center at more than a third less cost.
Digeo expects the Moxi HD DVR to be available in Q4. The first version of Moxi for OCAP (EPG only) will be available in Q4, with the DVR and complete Moxi experience versions following in waves in early 2008.
ROK brings VOD to mobile TV screen
ROK Entertainment Group, a UK-based developer of mobile entertainment services and technologies, is offering the first VOD mobile TV service streamed over mass market 2.5G GPRS.
ROK TV is being deployed to 30 mobile network operators worldwide, with AIS in Thailand and Telenor in Pakistan being the most recent.
ROK TV is available as a subscription service for about $2 per channel, per month, or for about $20 per month for all 22 channels.
ABC, ESPN reach VOD deal with Cox
ABC and ESPN have reached an agreement (view a Wall Street Journal article here) with Cox Communications Inc. to test advanced on-demand opportunities.
The trial is scheduled to take place this fall in Cox's Orange County cable TV systems, and it is expected to be rolled out in additional markets in the future.
The two companies will also work together to test dynamic ad insertion on Cox's on-demand platform.
Joost receives round of funding from five investors
Joost, a broadcast-quality Internet TV service, said five parties have collectively invested approximately $45 million in the company, with each investing in a minority percentage.
Index Ventures led the round of funding with Sequoia Capital. Other investors are CBS Corp. and Viacom, which provide channels and programming on Joost, and the Li Ka Shing Foundation.
The funding will enable Joost to accelerate product development, global expansion, localization and service offerings, the company said.
TVN releases VOD Complete
TVN Entertainment has launched VOD Complete, an end-to-end VOD solution for small market systems.
Features of the solution include an integrated content distribution platform and VOD server; more than 8,000 hours of VOD content; marketing support such as barker channels, promotions and campaigns; a turn-key solution for local programming and advertising; an integrated reporting and royalty processing service; a Web-based interactive asset management toolset; 24/7 service support; and third-party financing.
iGuide gets iTV solutions from Navic
Navic Networks is extending its iTV solutions to Motorola Inc./TV Guide's iGuide platform.
At the same time, Navic announced that both Cox Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable are extending their deployments of Navic products. Cox, which already has Navic in San Diego, Tucson and Phoenix, will deploy Navic in its Las Vegas system. TWC, meanwhile, signed a multi-year follow-on contract with Navic.
Navic said that after the Motorola solutions receive Acadia certification this spring, they have the potential to nearly double the company's deployment footprint. The new solutions include addressable advertising, advertising destinations, audience measurement, diagnostic data collection, enhanced TV, information services and interactive customer care (ICC).
With Navic's HyperCast Network, addressable advertising and enhanced TV apps can be deployed across any system, regardless of whether it uses Scientific Atlanta, Pioneer, Pace or Motorola STBs, the company said.
ICTV deploys iTV apps in Texas
ICTV's ActiveVideo programming and P:Mosaic navigational app are being deployed to an initial base of Texas subscribers.
Grande Communications Networks Inc., a broadband service provider in the state, is the first cable operator to launch ActiveVideo programming, through its GrandeVision service. The initial launch will be in San Marcos.
ActiveVideo composites linear and on-demand programming, and broadband content in the network, into personalized MPEG video streams, the company said.
P:Mosaic allows subs to build personalized menus from available channels according to individual preferences, manage preferences from Web-connected devices, view and preview TV channels simultaneously, and interact with targeted, auditable and actionable advertising, the company said.
Rentrak gains 17 VOD offerings for measurement system
Rentrak Corp. has added six network groups as subscribers to its On-Demand Essentials VOD measurement system. Multi-year deals have been signed with each of the network groups, which represent 17 on-demand network offerings.
Rentrak's roster of content provider subs now totals more than 66, including studios, cable and broadcast networks, and on-demand-only networks of all content types.
Atlantic Broadband, Cablevision, Charter Communications Inc., Comcast Corp., Insight Communications, Suddenlink and Verizon FiOS are partnered with Rentrak.
Cisco showcases new CDS addition
Cisco Systems Inc. unveiled an enhancement to its content delivery system (CDS) - Internet streaming media capabilities - at The Cable Show.
The addition offers VOD and streaming systems, but it also incorporates apps for delivering video to digital TVs and STBs, as well as for delivering video, voice, music and data to IP devices such as PCs, WiFi-connected mobile phones and PDAs.
The solution is part of the Cisco Internet Protocol Next-Generation Network (IP NGN), a converged network designed to deliver video, voice and data services with increased mobility. The enhancement is scheduled for completion in Q3.
SeaChange launches on-demand DVD games
SeaChange International Inc. has dipped into Snap TV's DVD video games pool for the debut of "DVD Game Pack," which utilizes SeaChange's DVD On-Demand set-top software.
The software allows on-demand TV services to store and stream DVD files as if they were any other VOD asset. DVD On-Demand is fully integrated with the company's middleware solutions, integrates with third-party middleware and is already ported to STBs manufactured by Motorola, Samsung, Pace, Scientific Atlanta and Amino.
Santa Monica, Calif.-based Snap TV develops interactive games that are available on DVDs, the Web and, now, on-demand.
Orb, Amino provide bridge from PC to TV
Amino and Orb Networks have integrated the latter's MyCasting service with the former's AmiNET110 and AmiNET125 STBs.
The combo allows users to take the media they currently can view on their PCs (including videos, movies, music and Web sites) and bring it to their TV screens.
The AmiNET110 with the integrated Orb app allows consumers access to personal media on the PC, as well as streamed media delivered via the Internet. The MyCasting service in the AmiNET125 allows MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and VC1/WM9 content to be streamed in native format from the PC to the TV.
English survey: Not much Internet VOD action
A survey conducted by CacheLogic reveals that most adults in England do not watch Internet movies and TV shows on-demand. Of the more than 2,400 respondents, only 15 percent of Internet users had downloaded a full-length TV program, and only 14 percent an entire movie.
The most common responses, when asked, "What would need to be addressed for you to view or download more?" were "speed of download" and "reliability." When asked to imagine a VOD service that worked quickly and easily, 65 percent of respondents said they would be "fairly interested" or "very interested" in using it, and just 13 percent were "not at all interested," the company said.
The company recently launched a global content delivery network (CDN) for the distribution of DVD-size files over the Internet.
Anime, Suddenlink offering SVOD in WV
A deal between Anime Network and Suddenlink Communications will give 200,000 West Virginia households access to an SVOD service.
With more than 95 percent penetration to all VOD-enabled households, Anime is tapping various distribution platforms, including 24/7 linear, mobile and other new media platforms, the company said.
WWE's SVOD lands deal with Charter
Charter Communications Inc. and World Wrestling Entertainment have launched WWE 24/7 On-Demand. The agreement makes WWE's SVOD service available to all of Charter's VOD-enabled customers.
WWE now has agreements with 13 of the top 15 MSOs, making the channel available to more than 75 percent of VOD-enabled subs.
• Streaming21 launches Tokyo subsidiary
Streaming21 has established a wholly owned subsidiary in Tokyo, Streaming21 K.K., that will provide local engineering, project management and sales support to the company's Japanese customers.
The company's streaming IPTV system has been deployed by NTT Communications, NEO Index, Vic Tokai, Enterwave and Tepco in Japan; KT (Korea Telecom) in South Korea; and Chunghwa Telecom in Taiwan.
• ADB supplying Polish MSO with iTV STBs
Advanced Digital Broadcast (ADB), a supplier of digital TV systems and software solutions for iTV, has reached an agreement with Polish MSO Multimedia Polska to supply advanced HD digital cable STBs. The MSO has about 575,000 subs.
ADB will provide its ADB-5800C interactive cable STB, enabling Multimedia to expand its broadband TV service into new areas such as HDTV, VOD and IPTV. The ADB-5800C incorporates standard SD and HDTV reception utilizing MPEG-2 and H.264/MPEG-4 advanced video coding (AVC).
• On2 Technologies Inc. will showcase its Flix Publisher Live video publishing SDK-for live video encoding and streaming of On2 VP6 with Adobe Flash-at the Streaming Media East show, May 15-16 in New York City.
Flix Publisher Live is designed to give user-generated sites, social networking sites and broadband video publishers the ability to deploy live video services by integrating live publishing capabilities directly into their Web pages, the company said.
• EchoStar eyes VOD, according to an Adweek article.
• A profile of ITV's entrance into the online market, by The Independent.