Building a better EAS mousetrap
With all of the hubbub over things like more HD channels and increased on-demand content, Emergency Alert Messaging (EAM) may not be the sexiest topic to consumers, but it is literally a lifesaver.
Back in August, the SCTE Engineering Committee approved a revised version of the industry-standard SCTE 18 – Emergency Alert Messaging. The standard, first published in 2002, defines an Emergency Alert Signaling (EAS) method, for use by cable TV systems, to signal emergencies to digital receiving devices such as digital set-top boxes (STBs), digital TV receivers and digital video recorders (DVRs).
The EAS system was designed to allow a cable operator to disseminate emergency alert information – related to state and local emergencies and warnings – in an efficient way, while minimizing disruption to programming.
While all of this is pretty much old hat to cable operators, EAS is a new concept to IPTV providers. At last month's TelcoTV conference in Atlanta, I dropped by Trilithic's booth to learn more about a new EAS network receiver that the company has developed for cable and IPTV operators.
Trilithic's new product is called the EASyIP EAS network receiver, and it's notable on several EAS fronts.
With video networks expanding into several EAS zones, there's a need to monitor more radios in various geographic locations. The new Trilithic receiver can be located anywhere in the field where the reception is clear and the information can be sent over the operator's network, back to a headend, and then to the company's EASy Series Encoder/Decoder for processing, which allows the receiver to communicate with multiple encoder/decoders.
When an EAS alert is received by the EASyIP Receiver, the alert is immediately stored, and the network receiver processes it for transport to the designated IP addresses, which can be programmed using a standard Web browser.
The transport message is either processed by the encoder/decoder or a busy message is returned. The EASyIP Receiver continues to contact the designated EAS devices until the alert is processed. The end result is that Trilithic's network receiver eliminates lost alerts, as each alert stays queued until received and acknowledged by the encoder/decoder.
The network receiver stores and queues EAS audio messages and monitors up to four radio sources. With Trilithic's encoder/decoder, service providers can add custom configurations to their hardware and software with help from Trilithic.
The network receiver was in a test bed with Time Warner Cable's Raleigh/Durham system in North Carolina in August, and it is available for general purchase next month.
— Michael Robuck, Senior Editor, CED
Cox picks Concurrent for Arizona VOD deployment
Concurrent announced today that Cox Communications will use Concurrent's MediaHawk platform as part of its launch of an on-demand service in the cable operator's Arizona market.
The deployment is slated to start in the first quarter of 2008 and will eventually encompass all of Cox's digital customers in the state.
With the rollout of the Arizona system, Cox now has VOD enabled in every one of its major markets. Concurrent's servers now support more than 75 percent of Cox's digital subscribers nationwide.
Nielsen to measure HBO's SVOD services
HBO will become the first company to receive TV ratings for its on-demand platform when The Nielsen Company begins measuring HBO's SVOD services: HBO On-Demand and Cinemax On-Demand.
With Nielsen's National People Meter VOD Audience Measurement service, HBO will be able to measure the number of households viewing its VOD offerings, as well as the demographics of the audiences that are viewing each program.
According to Nielsen’s estimates, about 35.1 million households have access to VOD services. The company's National People Meter VOD Audience Measurement service, which was introduced a year ago, utilizes patented technology to embed a code, or watermark, into a program to identify information for specific episodes.
Verizon adds HD VOD in several markets
Verizon is introducing HD VOD in several of its FiOS TV markets: Richmond and Virginia Beach, Va.; Tampa, Fla.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; and Pittsburgh.
The service will launch soon in the Washington, D.C., metro area, and in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Verizon said its remaining FiOS TV markets will receive HD VOD by year's end.
Demand for on-demand growing at Comcast
Comcast released some statistics about its on-demand service, underscoring the growing popularity of the feature. The operator said it has tallied:
- 6 billion on-demand views in less than four years
- 1 billion hours of VOD content watched this year alone
- 250 million views per month
- 100 views per second
Comcast said the library for its VOD service offers nearly 10,000 titles per month, available anytime consumers want to watch them with the ability to fast-forward, rewind and pause selections.
Copyright protection product proposed for TV shows on Web
The Nielsen Company and Digimarc announced a new service, called Nielsen Digital Media Manager, for monitoring and managing the distribution of media content across the Internet. The initial focus will be on the distribution of TV programming, but it can be expanded to other data types.
The tools, based on Digimarc's watermarking technology, are designed to help content owners monitor and protect copyrighted material. Nielsen said it already uses digital watermarking to encode 95 percent of national TV programming for its ratings service.
The companies expect the new solution to be available in mid-2008. They said their plan is to convince content providers to digitally watermark DVDs, movies, music, video games and other content in subsequent phases of the rollout of the new media identification and management services.
DirecTV buys DVR company's assets
D&M Holdings Inc. has sold most of the assets of its ReplayTV brand to DirecTV. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The ReplayTV Personal HD is an all-in-one DVR solution that allows consumers to watch and record HDTV on a PC or playback the content on an iPod.
Adobe's updated Flash Player gives Hulu HD power
Adobe Systems Inc. has launched its Flash Player 9 Update 3 software, aiding Hulu's effort to offer a quality HD Internet TV experience.
The new Flash Player 9 includes H.264 standard video support – as is deployed in Blu-Ray and HD-DVD video players – and High Efficiency AAC (HE-AAC) audio capabilities. The combination of the player and Adobe's Flash Media Server 3 (also recently announced) enables the delivery of HD-quality video to the broadest online audience.
"Hulu is committed to giving consumers the best online video viewing experience possible, and we are always seeking innovative, new technologies that help us deliver," said Eric Feng, CTO at Hulu. "Together with Adobe, we will provide a best-in-class, high-definition video experience."
Study: Younger viewers more likely to time-shift, watch TV online
Younger adult viewers are two-and-a-half times more likely than older viewers to be technologically proactive in watching TV shows that they missed, according to a new study by The Nielsen Company. Half of the older viewers said they will do nothing or wait for reruns of the shows that they missed.
Fifty-six percent of 18- to 34-year-olds use new technologies – such as DVRs, the Internet, VOD and MP3 players – to follow their favorite TV programming, compared with 21 percent of viewers over the age of 55, the study found.
Alcatel-Lucent demos mobile TV in Italy
Alcatel-Lucent, Italian mobile operator 3 Italia and Italian public broadcaster RAI are trialing mobile TV in Italy based on the DVB-SH standard. The trial, based on Alcatel-Lucent's Unlimited Mobile TV solution, uses a multi-layer DVB-SH terrestrial network blending low-power transmitters from a mobile operator and medium-power transmitters from a broadcaster.
The trial will take place in Torino through March. It is designed to validate the capability of DVB-SH to make available a large number of high-quality mobile TV channels in various usage conditions.
Targeted ad co. Invidi gains $25M in funding round
Invidi Technologies Corp. has secured $25 million in Series "C" financing from GroupM, a global media giant, and three American venture capital firms: Menlo Ventures, InterWest Partners and EnerTech Capital.
Invidi's proprietary technology can tell who is watching a TV set at any given time, and its classifiers can identify the age, gender, location, income and ethnicity of the viewer, while maintaining privacy and confidentiality. TV advertisements can then be targeted according to some or all of those classifiers.
With the assistance of GroupM, Invidi will be rolling out its technology across cable, satellite and telco platforms. The company is also in negotiations with multiple distribution channels for the deployment of its technology.
Radiance solution tapped by TelAmerica
Radiance Technologies' managed asset delivery services are being utilized by TelAmerica Media for the delivery of TV commercials to multiple U.S. cable operators.
Radiance's TrueDelivery solution provides an all-digital workflow for TelAmerica, enabling ads to be sent via the Internet (over both public and private networks) on Radiance's overlay network, the company said. TrueDelivery offers file-tracking capabilities, guaranteed delivery and a simple interface that is accessible from any Web browser.
"TrueDelivery eliminates some of the costly and time-consuming manual steps to commercial advertising workflow and delivery," said Andy Brown, VP of technology at TelAmerica. "By eliminating delivery of tapes of our advertisers' content and applying an all-digital workflow, we can achieve cost savings, eliminate any potential quality issues, and free up our employees to focus on our core business rather than on delivery issues."
ExtendMedia's OpenCase AdBridge ups video ad campaigns
ExtendMedia Corp. has introduced OpenCase AdBridge, which allows content owners and distributors to optimize video advertisement campaigns, even after the consumer downloads the ad.
The latest addition to ExtendMedia's digital content services platform, OpenCase enables companies to maintain the flexibility of what, when and how ad content is delivered through free, ad-supported digital media downloads.
OpenCase AdBridge provides the end-to-end management of videos, governs which ads accompany downloaded videos based on time and content targeting, automatically updates downloaded ad content and timing, monitors and reports on ad and video playback metering data, enforces must-watch ads by controlling the playback environment, syndicates appropriate ad-supported product content to partner portals and leverages industry-standard DRM technologies.
Macrovision to buy Gemstar-TV Guide for $2.8 billion
Macrovision, a digital security company, has agreed to buy Gemstar-TV Guide for $2.8 billion in cash and stocks.
The deal includes Gemstar-TV Guide shareholders getting $6.35 per share, or 0.2548 of a share of common stock, in a new holding company that will own both Gemstar-TV Guide and Macrovision.
Once the deal closes, which is slated to happen in the second quarter of next year, Macrovision stockholders will own a 53 percent stake in the combined company, while former Gemstar-TV Guide shareholders will own 47 percent.
Ensequence, Spike TV provided iTV apps for 'Video Game Awards'
Spike TV teamed up with Ensequence to provide interactive features for the 2007 "Video Game Awards," which aired Dec. 9 on Spike TV. The duo said the iTV features represented the broadest iTV deployment in the U.S. to date.
|Spike TV teamed up with Ensequence to provide
interactive features for the 2007 "Video Game Awards."
More than 20 million Dish Network and DirecTV viewers were able to use their existing remote controls to: access never-released cheat codes for their favorite games; play a classic arcade game; watch exclusive content, including trailers for upcoming game releases; and learn about specially produced video game features.
Integra5's apps chosen by BVU, ATI
Bristol Virginia Utilities (BVU) will bolster its triple-play offering by serving up a TV Caller ID service powered by Integra5.
BVU launched Integra5's i5 Converged Services Platform (CSP) across its footprint – which includes Bristol, Washington County and Abingdon, all in Virginia. The TV Caller ID service, which BVU has dubbed OnScreen CallerID, displays the names and numbers of incoming phone calls on up to three TVs before the phone even rings.
And Integra5 has announced a partnership with American Telecommunication Holdings S.A. (ATI), a Chile-based provider of advanced telecommunications systems and services. ATI will deliver Integra5's i5 CSP apps, including TV/PC Caller ID, SMS to TV, Customer Care Messaging to TV/PC and Voicemail through to TV
The i5 CSP's distributed, network-based architecture requires no truck rolls or new in-home hardware, and it scales to support millions of subscribers, the company said. The standards-based platform enables the delivery of real-time converged communications and content across voice, video, data and wireless services over IPTV, cable and hybrid networks. The platform also provides application-level personalization across multiple STBs, PCs and telephone lines within the home.
AT&T's U-verse adds features in L.A., central Texas
AT&T's U-verse customers in the Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, areas now have access to new TV features: AT&T U-bar, which brings customizable weather, stock, sports and traffic information to the TV screen; Yellowpages.com TV, a new way to search for local businesses and other information on the TV; and AT&T Yahoo! Games, which are also available on the TV screen.
• Getting Internet on the TV, Part 2,372, reported by The Wall Street Journal.
• Microsoft starts offering U.S. ads on MSN Mobile, reported by Reuters.
• NBC Uni feels Fanfare with SanDisk deal, reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
Headquarters: Reston, Va.
CEO: Magid M. Abraham
Claim to fame: comScore is a global Internet information provider that offers consumer behavior insight. comScore maintains proprietary databases that provide a continuous, real-time measurement of the myriad ways in which the Internet is used and the wide variety of activities that are occurring online.
Recent news of note: According to comScore's Video Metrix report for September, nearly 75 percent of U.S. Internet users (about 136 million) watched an online video – either a streaming video or a progressive download – during the month, making for an average of three hours of online video per person and a total of more than nine billion videos viewed.