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xOD Capsule Newsletter - May 02, 2006

Tue, 05/02/2006 - 8:20am
www.cedmagazine.com  |  CED Broadband Direct  |  Current Issue  |  Subscriptions May 02 , 2006 News: DVR owners don't time-shift all that muchViews: Guess that means I'm in the minority With so much talk these days about digital video recording and time-shifting and their potential impact on the traditional ad model, I was taken aback a bit last week by the results from a study from Total TV Audience Monitor. T-TAM, as it's also known, issued the results of a study that found that only 24 percent of DVR owners actually watch time-shifted TV in an average week. Of that group, a mere 6 percent of their total weekly viewing is time-shifted. Plus, just 1.7 hours of the 29.25 hours of TV watched per week on average was in "shifted" mode. Based on my own experiences with DVRs, I'm very surprised to see these results, which caused some to conclude that ad-skipping fears by networks and programmers is somehow unfounded or over-hyped. I realize that T-TAM's study presents averages, but I'd have to guess that well over 30 percent of the TV I watch at home per week is off the DVR. Maybe this is because I like to spend time with my family before I catch that night's episode of "The Daily Show." But maybe that's not the only reason. In fact, there have been many times when I'll have the time to watch a show at the hour it is originally broadcast, but, knowing that the DVR is catching it, I'll conveniently do something else for 20 or 30 minutes so that I don't have to sit through all the ads. I hate to admit that to advertisers that fund many of these shows, but it's the awful truth - a truth that Nielsen Media Research is certainly uncovering with its new DVR usage/measurement capabilities, and will soon be applied to the world of VOD, as you'll see in the story just below… — Jeff Baumgartner, Editor in Chief, CED magazine and xOD Capsule VOD audience measurements inching closerAlthough audience measurements linked to the DVR has already seeped into the marketplace, doing that in the VOD world is starting to take several steps forward, most recently at last week's National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) confab in Las Vegas. There, Nielsen Media Research and tech partner Anystream Inc. demonstrated just how close VOD audience measurement really is, and showed off the progress they have made since inking a non-exclusive arrangement last year. Nielsen's VOD activity is an extension of a plan with digital TV that involves the use of audio "watermarking," which stamps programming with its source and how it should be applied toward viewing credits. Nielsen presently uses two formulas to mark VOD content, explained Scott Brown, Nielsen's SVP of strategic relations, marketing & technology. In the first example, dedicated real-time encoders apply the Nielsen watermark. That content is then transferred to cable operators, which place it into the VOD pipeline. In the second case, where Anystream fits in to the equation, an HBO, Showtime or other network will watermark the digital files, rather than the linear feeds being sent to a satellite. Anystream and Nielsen have developed a piece of software to handle that marketing, encoding and watermarking process. While DVR audience measurements have been in local markets for almost a year, VOD represents "just another major stepping stone" in applying measurements to new ways television is viewed, Brown explained, noting that Nielsen is also gearing up to measure network-based DVR applications, including Time Warner Cable's "Start Over" service and the remote-storage DVR (RS-DVR) Cablevision Systems Corp. is testing in Long Island. The demo last week marked just the early elements of a four-stage plan Nielsen has enlisted for VOD audience data, which will be collected by Nielsen's Active/Passive meter. The A/P meter, designed for digital television, is a physical black box that, when hooked up to the TV, hunts for audio codes that pipe through the speaker or watermarks that are embedded in the programming. The first phase, set to begin in August, will measure and report VOD content that was "recently telecast" - in this case, within seven days of the live broadcast date. The second phase, to come online perhaps as early as this fall, will help networks better delineate whether a viewer accesses a program in a linear or non-linear fashion. The third stage, set for the fourth quarter, will involve "library VOD," and help nets such as HBO, Showtime and Starz measure usage. Measurements will also be applied to other "pay" VOD content. During the fourth and final stage, in early 2007, Nielsen expects to retool its systems for non-linear usage on a much broader scale, covering fare that is presently going unmeasured (ie. lesser used VOD content such as guitar or cooking lessons). Such measurement "will put VOD on a level playing field with linear television," Brown said. Recent studies have shown, however, that VOD complements rather than reduces the amount of traditional TV viewing. A three-month study of 180 homes in Philadelphia conducted by Nielsen and Comcast last year showed that VOD users are already heavy TV viewers. The study noted that homes that used the VOD service watched traditional TV an average of 723 minutes per day, 9 percent higher than all digital cable homes, and 38 percent higher than all cable homes. "Free" VOD content was viewed by about 42 percent of VOD homes during the three-month period. Although Nielsen has the option to work with other partners when it comes to VOD measurement, Anystream "has taken the ball and have run with it very hard," Brown said. "We found that they were eager to implement our encoding algorithm into their infrastructure." He noted that Nielsen has also held discussions with other potential partners, including Harmonic Inc., Tandberg Television, SeaChange International and other vendors in the VOD ecosystem. Among that group, Everstream just released a set of audience measurement modules for its data collection and reporting platforms for linear television, VOD and DVR. Everstream, picked up last year by Concurrent Computer Corp. for about $15 million, said it has added Audience Measurement modules to its DataSuite and ReportOne platforms. Everstream's customers include EchoStar Communications, Comcast Cable, Time Warner Cable, Adelphia Communications, Cox Communications and Japan-based J:COM. WHYY embarks on VODWHYY, a group of PBS member stations serving the Greater Philadelphia tri-state region, is getting into the video-on-demand (VOD) business. WHYY said it will leverage the QuickSilver Agility VOD Workstation to produce and distribute programming for on-demand distribution. SeaChange International developed the platform in partnership with Anystream Inc.. WHYY, which serves southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and southern New Jersey and is already offering programs on-demand via a partnership with Comcast Cable, said it aims to act as a service bureau for other PBS stations, and help them encode their local and national shows for VOD. "We're already targeting 120 local and national WHYY productions for on-demand availability," said WHYY VP for Content Distribution & Chief Technology Officer Bill Webber. The QuickSilver Agility platform is designed to automate the process of preparing content for on-demand distribution. The system ingests files from storage or editing workstations, then inserts metadata, branding messages and promos. From there, each title is processed into CableLabs-compliant packages. AT&T tag teams with VongoAT&T has inked a deal to offer Vongo, a new movie download service from Starz Entertainment Group, to the telco's DSL subscribers. AT&T, which just announced a new 6 Mbps "Elite" service tier, marks the first broadband distribution partner for Vongo, a service that got off the ground in January. Under the agreement, AT&T and Vongo will manage a co-branded site. The AT&T Worldnet portal will also promote the Vongo service. Financial terms were not disclosed, but it's likely that AT&T will get a cut of the subscription revenues driven by the deal. To spur demand, AT&T will offer a 14-day free trial of the Vongo service to its high-speed subs. For $9.99 a month, Vongo subs gain access to 1,500 movies and other videos, and a live stream of the linear Starz channel. Vongo also supports a more limited pay-per-view offering. "Vongo's compelling content increases the value proposition for AT&T High Speed Internet customers," said Scott Helbing, chief marketing officer for AT&T's consumer division, in a statement. Since the start, Vongo officials have expressed interest in complementing the standalone service with service-provider partnerships. AT&T, which has 7.4 million "broadband lines" in service, marks the first service operator to take the plunge with Vongo. Vongo, which scored a notebook PC software bundling deal with HP last month, has not yet released any subscription figures. The best of download TV Here's a sign that Internet video distribution has some real teeth. TV Guide bowed a "Downloads" column in the May 1 issue. The gist: Info on the week's best TV shows available for download or online viewing. The debut column recommends downloadable shows (or those available via streaming) such as "Desperate Housewives," "Lost" and "Alias," and the new In2TV service from AOL. TV Guide is just the latest programming source to jump on this trend. Recall that Zap2it beat TV Guide to the punch with special coverage of movies and other titles available via VOD or through the Internet. SkyStream's 'zBand' eyes the Internet Tandberg Television's SkyStream division released a new version of its zBand software that allows service providers to use the Internet and other unicast networks to distribute movies and other content on-demand. ReelTime Media, the first customer of the new version, dubbed zBand 6.0, will use the content delivery platform to deliver VOD to major metropolitan areas in Australia over broadband Internet connections. zBand is also employed by the recently resurrected MovieBeam service. zBand 6.0 includes a new load management tool/feature called Smartloading. The software gives operators control over when content is delivered, viewable, watched and deleted. Separately, SkyStream said the video encoders in its Mediaplex-20 and iPlex video headends now support picture-in-picture (PiP). Broadbus CEO an award finalist Broadbus Technologies CEO Vin Bisceglia has been named a finalist for the 2006 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the New England region. Ernst & Young will announce the regional winners on June 15 at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. Swiss op deploys Kasenna 'PortalTV' app Television Sierre SA of Switzerland is expanding its rollout of Kasenna Inc.'s PortalTV application, following the completion of a phase-one trial with about 100 customers. PortalTV handles apps such as traditional video-on-demand and more advanced network-based digital video recording. The PortalTV suite also includes Kasenna's MediaBase video server platform and LivingRoom middleware. TVSierre serves about 22,000 customers via a fiber-to-the-home network. More programmers ride Rentrak Six more networks and programmers have subscribed to Rentrak Corp.'s OnDemand Essentials VOD measurement system: Mag Rack, fuse, NBC Universal, Oxygen, Sportskool and WWE. With the latest additions, Rentrak said it has 28 content providers subscribing to the system, which supplies daily VOD content performance data. Heard on the Net Not-so-banner review for MovieLink downloads MovieLink recently launched a new download-to-own movie service that aims to compete with traditional VOD by offering titles in earlier, DVD release windows, but it appears that cable operators don't have much to worry about yet, according to this rather tongue-in-cheek review from JoBlo. Among the laundry list of complaints: General inconveniences when going through the throes of registration hell and various software updates, questionable tech support, and syrupy slow download times (perhaps not MovieLink's fault, but it took the user 4 hours and 40 minutes to download a movie via a Verizon DSL connection). On the positive side, the picture quality was "on par with DVD quality with maybe a bit more grain. Better than I would've expected," the reviewer noted. Sling Media in HBO's legal gun sights? HBO CTO Bob Zitter noted, "I don't think I want to say," when asked if the premium net was considering legal action against Sling Media, maker of the place-shifting Slingbox device. In this Light Reading report from last week's NAB show in Las Vegas, Zitter questions publicly what other programmers have already discussed in more private settings: Does Sling violate copyright laws by redistributing television signals? Sling, as we've discussed, takes advantage of the "analog hole," but allows only one user at a time to access the IP stream emanating from the Slingbox. Some operators have told CED that they are enlisting Slingboxes to monitor video and user-side TV applications remotely for much less (try thousands of dollars less) than they would with more "traditional" methods and equipment. Sling is also trying to cozy up with service providers, and has already scored funding partners in EchoStar and Liberty Media, which have not yet discussed what they will do with the technology, but the most feasible observation we've heard is that they hope to embed Sling's capabilities directly into advanced, IP-enabled set-tops. We are making changes and additions (including international deployments) to ourWeb-based "living" deployment chart. If you have a new deployment to report for the VOD Scorecard and the Web-based deployment chart, please contact CED Editor Jeff Baumgartner.   May 2006Issue Contents » Company: Kasenna Inc. Headquarters: Mountain View, Calif. URL: www.kasenna.com CEO: Mark Gray Claim to fame: Kasenna has built itself into a one-stop-shop for VOD, particularly in the IPTV arena, offering up servers and server-optimization software, asset management systems, and digital rights management. It even delves into content aggregation, thanks to corporate cousin ViewNow, which Kasenna purchased in 2004. In the cable sphere, it has had the most success with Adelphia Communications and Charter Communications. Recent news of note: Scored a swath of deals in Europe, including Fastweb (Italy), JazzTel (Spain), and TV Sierre (Switzerland), for PortalTV, Kasenna's network-based DVR services product suite.   Company: Exent Technologies Headquarters: Bethesda, Md. (U.S. HQ) URL: www.exent.com CEO: Zyi Levgoren Company claim to fame: Games-on-demand services, with partners that include Comcast, Yahoo!, Verizon, Bell Canada, RCN Corp., and Deutsche Telecom. Recent news of note: Introduced a set of tools that enable service providers to insert ads into online games, including older titles that have no built-in provisions for ad insertion.   Summit on Intellectual Property and Digital Media "From Creator to Consumer: Working Together in the Digital World" May 22-23, 2006The Cable Center Denver, Colo. More information:303-871-7722 -or- Click Here Walk of Fame GalaRocky Mountain Chapter of Women in Cable & TelecommunicationsMay 25, 2006 Hyatt Regency Tech Center Denver, Colo. More information: Click Here ACA Washington Summit American Cable Association May 8-9, 2006Washington, D.C. More information: Click Here 2006 RFID Forum June 7-8, 2006 Toronto, Canada More information: Click Here Conference for the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association (BCFM) June 11-13, 2006Orlando, Fla. More information: Click Here SCTE Cable-Tec Expo June 20-23, 2006Denver, Colo. More information: Click Here 2nd AnnualC-COR Global IP Summit June 28-29, 2006 Athens, GreeceMore information: Click Here CTAM SummitJuly 17-19, 2006Boston, Mass. More information: Click Here IPComm 2006Sept. 25-27, 2006 Nashville, Tenn. More information: Click Here 2006 FTTH Conference & ExpoOct. 2-5, 2006 The Venetial Resort Las Vegas, Nev. More information: Click Here CTHRA Fall Symposium Oct. 18, 2006Philadelphia, Pa. Park Hyatt HotelMore information: Click Here Copyright © 2006 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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