Concurrent releases tool to build VOD navigation apps
After conducting a trial of the tool with Japanese operator Jupiter Telecommunications (J:Com), Concurrent is now making its HTML-based VOD application-authoring platform commercially available.
Concurrent's MediaHawk Prism platform leverages commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) Web-development technologies and standards. It is hosted on a Microsoft.NET Web server.
Content is now changing rapidly in VOD, and the interface needs to keep up with the changes, says Tim Dodge, Concurrent's VP of VOD sales and marketing for North America. "HTML allows developers to make those changes quickly. It allows the same flexibility of the Internet in the VOD environment."
Top screen of J:Com's HTML-based menu
Operators can develop pages that could be used to promote time-shifted TV and network DVR content. Web pages are accessed over the DOCSIS network via a commercially available Web browser stored on the STB. The platform can work with any STB, but Concurrent is focusing its energy on next-gen STBs.
With MH Prism, MSOs (or third-party developers) may create custom, traditional VOD menu navigation, including category-based menu navigation, jacket art display of VOD titles, and launch of VOD titles and previews. It can allow the incorporation of scaled video in customer interfaces, and it is capable of supporting marketing packages and special promotions.
"As the volume of on-demand content continues to explode, advanced navigation technologies are needed to connect the consumer with the programming they desire," states Michael Pasquinilli, VP of engineering for on-demand at Concurrent. "MH Prism represents the next generation of VOD navigation application development, targeting a new generation of IPTV-, OCAP- and DOCSIS-enabled set-top boxes."
— CED Staff
Comcast plans to move TiVo software to SA boxes
TiVo Inc. said that Comcast Corp. has "agreed to fund significant additional development work to bring the TiVo service to other Comcast platforms, including Scientific Atlanta set-top boxes."
This will further develop the TiVo on Comcast service, which the two companies have been delaying for quite some time, and increase the distribution opportunities that TiVo will have available, the company said.
TiVo, in its Q2 report, quoted Comcast as saying, "We will commence the TiVo rollout process shortly, which [we] will continue rolling out throughout the fall in Comcast's New England Division, including metro Boston, southeast Massachusetts and New Hampshire."
thePlatform gets behind Hulu.com
thePlatform has signed a deal to provide content publishing and distribution services for NBC Universal and News Corp.'s Internet video venture, recently named Hulu.com. A beta version of the site went live last week.
The agreement builds upon thePlatform's existing relationship with NBBC—thePlatform supports its broadband video marketplace. The JV will offer thousands of hours of full-length, premium content from networks and film studios.
"Our technology's versatility and scalability helps NBC Universal and News Corp.'s venture manage content and syndication in a highly centralized way, benefiting consumers, content owners, destination Web sites and advertisers," said Ian Blaine, thePlatform's CEO.
SeaChange reports lower revenue, increase in orders
SeaChange International Inc. reported slightly lower revenues in Q2 2008 and a net loss of $8 million, up from a net loss of $1 million in the year-ago quarter, but it showed increased sales of its VOD systems to North American cable operators.
Total revenues for the quarter were $44.2 million, down from $45.8 million a year ago. Total broadband segment revenues, which include revenues from the company's VOD and ad-insertion departments, were $22.9 million—down from $24.1 million a year ago.
VOD systems revenue nearly doubled, from $5.4 million in the first quarter to $12.4 million in the second quarter, primarily due to increased order activity from North American cable customers. VOD systems revenue growth was offset by a $1.5 million decrease in ad-insertion revenue, driven primarily by lower revenue from North American cable customers.
TiVo posts significant Q2 loss, adds new offerings
TiVo Inc. reported a net loss of $17.7 million in Q2, ended July 31, an increase of 172 percent year-on-year.
TiVo-owned subscription gross additions for the second quarter were 41,000 — compared with 74,000 a year ago. The company said its additions continue to be "impacted by the pace at which retailers moved to a high definition sales focus." Overall, TiVo-owned subscriptions totaled 1.71 million, up 136,000 on an annual basis compared with the year-ago period. Cumulative total subscriptions totaled 4.2 million.
During the quarter, DirecTV and TiVo announced a deal to develop a software upgrade for DirecTV DVR users with TiVo service. TiVo also launched a lower-priced HD DVR, which hit retail stores last week. And during Q2, the "Buy on Box" capability for the Amazon Unbox service was released.
OpenTV's acting CEO
and COO Ben Bennett
OpenTV shuffles CEOs
OpenTV announced that Alan Guggenheim has stepped down as president and CEO of the company for personal reasons.
Ben Bennett was named as the acting CEO and appointed to the newly created position of COO. Bennett was formerly SVP of customer operations for OpenTV. The board also named Mauro Saladini as the new director of OpenTV.
Bennett, with OpenTV since March 2000, has served as managing director for OpenTV's European Operations. Bennett has also served as SVP and GM of OpenTV's Worldwide Professional Services' Consulting and Support group. He has also held senior management positions at Logica and British Telecom.
• Nielsen drops Hispanic ratings
Nielsen has dropped its separate rating systems for Hispanic households. The company will now include Hispanics as part of its general sample.
There are 12.1 million Hispanic households in the U.S., Nielsen said, accounting for 11 percent of the company's sample. This is more than a 4 percent increase compared with last year's numbers.
• Sony launches new HD PC/TV
Sony has unleashed the Vaio LT HD PC/TV, which enables users to watch and record analog, digital and cable TV programming, including HD channels. The new model requires a CableCARD.
The unit features a 22-inch diagonal WSXGA+ widescreen display and can be used for TV viewing, as well as computing functions (an A/V power button lets you shut down the TV function while the PC continues to run).
• Service Electric Cablevision picks Harmonic's eQAM for VOD service
Service Electric Cablevision is using Harmonic's Narrowcast Services Gateway (NSG) edge QAM with privacy mode encryption for its VOD deployment in Pennsylvania.
Harmonic's family of eQAM solutions includes the NSG 8108 and 9116 models, as well as a Universal eQAM, the NSG 9000.
• Intellon will supply HomePlug chips for DirecTV's VOD service
Intellon Corp.'s HomePlug 1.0 with Turbo powerline communications chips will provide No New Wires connectivity for DirecTV's VOD service, which is scheduled to launch this fall.
DirecTV customers who sign up for the new service will have access to a HomePlug-enabled surge protector and a HomePlug powerline-to-Ethernet adapter, manufactured by TII Network Technologies.
• Edgeware, Altera hook up on VOD server
Edgeware AB is tapping into the performance and memory capabilities of Stratix II and Cyclone III FPGAs from Altera Corp. to achieve improved performance and scalability with Edgeware's VOD server, Orbit 2x.
With Edgeware's Orbit 2x server system, on-demand and iTV service providers can deliver up to 20 Gbps of output, streaming to as many as 8,192 concurrent viewers at the lowest cost per stream. Edgeware designed its carrier-grade Orbit 2x server—with an FPGA-based, solid-state flash memory storage architecture—to achieve hardware-speed streaming.
• New media and new ideas tout shows for fall, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
• Google in and Yahoo out for CNN.com text ads, reported by InfoWorld.
• Hear this: mobile devices overtake audio, according to MediaPost.
Company: Leichtman Research Group (LRG)
Headquarters: Durham, N.H.
President/Principal Analyst: Bruce Leichtman
Claim to fame: LRG specializes in actionable research and consulting for the broadband, media and entertainment industries. The company combines on-going surveys and analysis with hands-on industry experience.
Recent news of note: New consumer research from LRG found that more than one in every five U.S. households now have a DVR—up from about one in every 13 households two years ago.