Here's to your health
Raj Amin resurfaced recently as the president of HealthiNation, a startup that specializes in short-form videos related to—you guessed it—major health topics.
But rather than taking the sports and fitness path—something that's already being addressed by Comcast Corp. and Jake ("Body By Jake") Steinfeld in the form of exercisetv—HealthiNation is, in segments that run eight to twelve minutes, discussing more medically-centered topics and conditions such as cholesterol and health management costs, diabetes, and melanoma.
Amin, late of DVR pioneer ReplayTV (remember them?) and more recently N2 Broadband and its eventual suitor, Tandberg Television, said providing such information and in an easy-to-understand language will expand consumer knowledge on these topics and help to empower them before having to see a physician.
HealthiNation has already scored
a VOD distribution deal with Insight Communications.
"We did a lot of research before launching, so we know our approach would be perceived positively," Amin said.
Initially, HealthiNation is spreading the word via video-on-demand. Insight Communications is the first MSO to offer HealthiNation content.
Although his content is offered for free to digital customers, Amin believes HealthiNation and cable operators can generate some interesting opportunities for local and national advertising.
"Health is a huge category for local advertising, but you need to have a successful product first," Amin said.
While HealthiNation is starting off with cable VOD distribution, it's also in the process of finalizing a broadband strategy.
So far, HealthiNation has produced almost five hours worth of video segments.
Each segment explains the basics of the condition, potential risk signs, and prevention and treatment information. HealthiNation has also built pauses into each program. For a segment on melanoma, for example, the host (a doctor, in this case) will direct viewers to pause the segment so they can check themselves against what's being presented on-screen.
"You can't run from the pause button; you have to embrace it," Amin said.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Editor in Chief, CED magazine and xOD Capsule
Movielink feels the burn..again
Movielink has sealed a deal that will allow customers to burn downloaded movies onto recordable discs that can be played back on standard DVD players.
The agreement, which includes a license for Sonic Solutions' DVD-on-Demand technology, marks a considerable step forward for Movielink's download-to-own plans.
In April, Movielink began offering download-to-own titles and disc burning. That move, however, only allowed customers to burn purchased titles to a DVD (based on the Windows Media digital rights management platform) for "backup" and playback on PC-based DVD players/recorders. Those disks could not be played back on standard DVD players. Moreover, they could only be played back on the computer to which the title was originally downloaded.
The agreement with Sonic will give Movielink customers "a more flexible product while providing copyright holders with adequate protection of their content," said Movielink CEO Jim Ramo, in a statement.
Sonic said it will promote the Movielink service on its Roxio CinePlayer and other software apps distributed via OEM and retail channels.
On the technical end, Sonic has developed and licensed to Movielink a new version of its AuthorScript system that includes module that supports a DRM gateway for the secure export of content from approved download systems. The system is designed to convert IP-delivered video into MPEG-2 for DVDs during the download process. Sonic said its new DVD engine also supports a range of studio-approved copy protection mechanisms that are applied to DVDs as they are being burned.
These developments could end up aiding the cable industry, as well. In 2004, Scientific Atlanta announced it had secured a license from Sonic, as well. SA at the time said it intended to use the license to enable recording and playback for set-tops with on-board DVD players. At recent trade shows, SA has demonstrated a conceptual version of a "Direct to Disc" system that enables the user to download a movie to a set-top hard drive and then burn the title directly to a DVD.
Concurrent enlists layoffs following revenue shortfall
Concurrent Computer Corp. said it expects to report lower-than-expected fiscal Q4 revenues of between $15 million and $17 million, citing a shortfall in international on-demand revenues, and the delay in a "large" order for its Everstream division.
Concurrent added that it expects to post a Q4 loss of between 5 cents to 7 cents per fully diluted share. Wall Street reportedly expected the company to record revenues of $22 million, and a loss of 1 cent per share.
Concurrent stock dipped 7.18 percent (13 cents) to $1.68 per share in early trading Monday. The company is scheduled to post its final Q4 numbers on Aug. 11.
Concurrent's Everstream unit markets a range of VOD reporting and statistics systems, and has announced deployments with operators such as Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable and Adelphia Communications, which is about to join the ranks of Time Warner and Comcast Corp. Concurrent purchased Everstream last year in a deal valued at roughly $15 million.
The Associated Press, citing a Concurrent spokeswoman, noted that the company had about 400 employees prior to the cut of about 28 positions, which occurred last week.
While international VOD numbers were lower than expected, domestic VOD numbers were in-line for Concurrent, which expects to launch the MediaHawk 4500, its fifth-generation on-demand system, later this year.
"Despite the disappointing results for this quarter, we remain optimistic about our business long-term," said Concurrent President & CEO Gary Trimm, in a statement.
TVWorks allies with Softel-USA
TVWorks, the Comcast Corp. and Cox Communications interactive television (iTV) joint venture, has joined the Softel-USA MediaSphere Alliance Program.
TVWorks marks the tenth member of the Alliance. Membership is designed to ensure that TVWorks' Enhanced Television Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) user agent interoperates with Softel-USA's MediaSphere DSMCC object carousel. The combo aims to enable enhanced television (ETV) applications that are synched with live programming.
TVWorks and Softel-USA noted that their joint solution has been demonstrated successfully at recent ETV interop events conducted by CableLabs.
"As a Comcast and Cox joint venture, TVWorks is developing highly-valued new services for North American cable," said Greg Thomson, SVP of product management & business development for TVWorks' applications division. "With key partners such as Softel-USA, we are able to extend these solutions farther back in the production and operations chain. We look forward to taking the technology to the next level with them."
Trio strikes VOD advertising pact
Three vendors with stakes in on-demand advertising have inked a deal to integrate their respective technologies.
The deal involves Atlas On Demand, Concurrent Computer Corp. and Everstream, a maker of data collection, advertising and reporting software that Concurrent acquired last year for about $15 million.
Concurrent makes a widely deployed line of video servers and VOD backoffice systems. Atlas, a division of aQuantive Inc., announced last year that it would apply its Internet advertising technology to the VOD world.
Under the deal, Concurrent and Everstream will match up their technologies with Atlas On Demand's ad campaign management system. The result, the companies said, will enable cable operators and programmers to offer relevant and addressable ads, and help advertisers and ad agencies plan, execute and measure campaigns crafted for VOD.
The cable industry hopes to leverage targeted advertising to help pay the freight on video-on-demand content that is offered freely to digital customers.
"Targeted ad insertion and quantitative reporting…are critical to ensuring the prolonged success of VOD's evolving advertising revenue model," said Concurrent CEO Gary Trimm, in a release.
Concurrent is just the latest VOD to team up with Atlas On Demand, which has previously announced integration arrangements with Tandberg Television, C-COR Inc., and SeaChange International.
'Thomas and Friends' is just one of several titles
TVN will deliver from the PBS Kids Sprout library
following a multi-year VOD distribution deal.
Under the deal, TVN will provide the kids net with VOD distribution and asset management services, including access to the company's recently launched ADONISS 2 platform. TVN will also supply its Provider Remote Interface (PRI), a Web-based toolset that enables the programmers to track and monitor VOD programs and update metadata files on a site-by-site basis.
Sprout, created via a partnership of Comcast Corp., HIT Entertainment and PBS, has generated north of 90 million on-demand "orders" since its launch in April 2005. Its program lineup includes episodes of "Sesame Street," "Thomas & Friends," "Barney & Friends," and "Dragon Tales," among several others.
One of several
components of the
NBCUC Digital World
NBC Universal Cable
bows digital education program
NBC Universal Cable (NBCUC) has launched Digital World, a campaign designed to educate consumers and help them better navigate and understand the complexities of advanced cable services such as HDTV, VOD, high-speed Internet and digital video recording.
Cox Communications is the first MSO to partner with NBCUC on the campaign, which features a Web site and customizable print, on-air and online ads. The campaign focuses on three "lifestyle themes": Digital Home, Digital Work and Digital Fun.
Cox will debut the Digital World campaign in San Diego, with plans to roll it out to more systems later this year.
NBCUC is also offering materials in Spanish under the Mundo Digital umbrella.
Gotuit lands search and nav patent
Gotuit Media Corp. has been awarded a patent designed to help users navigate and search video content.
The patent (U.S. 7,055,166) describes the use of video metadata technology "to deliver a personalized video experience across multiple platforms, including cable/satellite, broadband and mobile."
Gotuit said it originally filed the patent in 1999. The company specializes in indexing software for VOD. Its technology, for example, could be used to highlight only the touchdowns of a football game, or only the goals of a soccer fixture.
"The on-demand video products we have built based on these inventions have proven to be market-leaders; and given the explosive growth of video across digital platforms, protecting our IP becomes even more important," said company President Mark Pascarella, in a statement.
Gotuit has announced deployments with Time Warner Cable and Adelphia Communications.
CableLabs recently issued the 2.0 version of the video-on-demand metadata content specification, which features improved search capabilities. Gotuit, however, is not among the listed contributors.
EchoStar leads CinemaNow investment round
Satellite TV giant EchoStar Communications and Index Holdings led a $20.3 million series E round in financing in CinemaNow Inc., an Internet-based provider of digital movies and other video fare.
Transcosmos, Cisco Systems Corp., Lionsgate and Menlo Ventures - all previous CinemaNow investors - also participated in the latest round, which marks CinemaNow's single largest round of financing so far. To date, CinemaNow has raised north of $40 million.
EchoStar noted that it will collaborate with CinemaNow to deliver its library directly to its TV customers.
"CinemaNow is leading the way in digital distribution and we see a bright future ahead for their business," said Mark Jackson, president of EchoStar Technologies Corp. "We are also looking forward to working with CinemaNow directly on ways to deliver their robust content offerings to EchoStar's more than 12 million subscribers.
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