ActiveVideo provisions Web content, interactivity to TWC Oceanic

Wed, 10/08/2008 - 8:50am
Mike Robuck

ActiveVideo and Time Warner Cable revealed the details of a new service that allows digital cable subscribers in the cable operator’s Oceanic division to view Internet-based and traditional content on their TVs.

ActiveVideo CEO Jeff Miller said Time Warner Cable rolled out the new service in Hawaii just prior to the start of the Beijing Olympics in August. The service allowed digital cable subscribers to view Web clips, mosaics of live broadcast and cable channels simultaneously, and to find out additional information about the athletes through RSS feeds.

“[Time Warner Cable] rolled it out quietly,” Miller said in an interview with CED. “The viewers ate it up and it was quite popular. Based on that success, the Oceanic team has added another wave of content to the service.”

The additional content, which was announced today, included interactive games from TAG Networks; home shopping from HSN; and news, sports and children’s versions of P:Mosaic, which is a personalized video navigation system that allows customers to pick from their favorite channels in a single glance.

With ActiveVideo, viewers can navigate an interactive environment of both linear and broadband programming, including interfaces and graphics optimized for TV and remote control navigation; social networking; personal media; niche content; and targeted, actionable advertising. ActiveVideo uses MPEG streaming to deliver the Web 2.0 experience to any digital cable set-top box or broadband-connected consumer electronics (CE) device.

“One of cable television’s greatest strengths is its ability to serve customers with content that is important to them locally, and even personally,” said Nate Smith, president of Oceanic Time Warner. “Our launch of ActiveVideo expands our ability to deliver to our customers diversity, personalization and targeting through a wide range of video choices.”

The HSN application, which Miller said HSN needed to write only once to deploy across any cable network, allows viewers to not only buy the featured product in a live broadcast, but also drill down into HSN’s catalog for items that aren’t currently being featured.

Miller said that since the ActiveVideo application runs on top of a cable or telco operator’s video-on-demand (VOD) infrastructure, there’s no need for an upgrade to the network in order to provision the service. ActiveVideo’s network-based servers pull content off of the Internet and into unicast streams that run over a service provider’s unicast broadcast.

The streams are sent to digital, two-way set-top boxes that previously had thin application clients downloaded on them.

“The set-top box doesn’t know it’s watching an application because it’s all happening on our servers,” Miller said. “A small client in the set-top box receives the key strokes from viewers’ remotes, which are then sent to our service-based network so all of the keystrokes happen in our network.”

Time Warner Cable Oceanic is using MPEG-2 streams for the service, but Miller said ActiveVideo also supports MPEG-4, EBIF and tru2way on various flavors of set-top boxes and programming guides.

Miller said the application is currently in labs and trials with other undisclosed service providers. Worldwide, ActiveVideo is in 1.4 million homes across both cable and IPTV providers’ footprints.

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