Without a lot of national fanfare, Time Warner Cable launched its photo and video sharing service in Albany, Texas, earlier this week.
PhotoShowTV allows Time Warner Cable’s digital video and Road Runner data subscribers to post photos and video clips to a dedicated VOD channel for viewing. The free service first launched in Time Warner Cable’s Oceanic division – which operates in Hawaii – two years ago.
In addition to Hawaii and Albany, Time Warner Cable has PhotoShowTV up and running in the following divisions: New York City/Staten Island; San Antonio; South Carolina; southwest Ohio; Austin/Waco, Texas; Dallas; New York City/Liberty; Rochester, N.Y.; and Greensboro, N.C. A spokesman for Time Warner Cable said the service is being trialed in several additional divisions with more launches scheduled to take place before the end of the year.
Time Warner Cable uses Simple Star, which was bought by Roxio's Sonic Solutions, to help provision the service. Subscribers are able to add licensed music, captions and animations to their digital photo and video submissions by using Simple Star’s software.
PhotoShowTV allows users to organize their photos into various categories, such as Sports, Pets, Family and Travel, before they’re viewed on a specific channel.
Simple Star takes a user’s content, which is a Flash file, and transcodes it into an MPEG format that can be played out on Time Warner Cable’s VOD platform.
Simple Star uses a customer’s metadata that is based on information that the subscriber has provided, and then the videos or photos are sent over a VPN to a special catcher that Time Warner Cable developed, which is called the Packaged Media Gateway. With additional software, a user’s content is taken off the VPN and published to the VOD platform.
Customers are able to use their remotes to scroll through the various categories until they see the name they’ve given their content before selecting it for viewing.
PhotoShowTV users receive e-mail updates on the status of their uploaded content, or a message that tells them if their content is not suitable for viewing. Time Warner Cable uses a screening tool to weed out content that is inappropriate to air. Typically, the photos or videos have a three-day viewing window on the VOD platform.
Because the files are small when compared with full-length movies, there’s not very much additional strain on a division’s VOD platform, and PhotoShowTV is able to use the VOD platform that is already in place.
Since the Oceanic launch two years ago, customers can now share their videos and photos with Time Warner Cable subscribers in other divisions where PhotoShowTV is live.
Being able to send photos of the grandkids to their grandparents seems like one of those converged services that gives Time Warner Cable an edge over its competitors, but the model also could include adding sponsors to the categories or including short bumper ads on the files.
The application could also be used to serve up video classifieds, or to offer private channels to businesses for a monthly charge.
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