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Liberty Puerto Rico rolling out unusual social-based guide

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 3:39pm
Brian Santo

Liberty Global’s subsidiary in Puerto Rico is in the process of rolling out a cloud-based service that features a discovery and navigation capability that is uncommon if not unique. Liberty Puerto Rico worked with ActiveVideo to devise an approach based on social networking.

Liberty Puerto Rico carries approximately 300 channels. Subscribers who tune in to channel 200 are presented with a mosaic guide populated with 8 titles that are chosen based on what everyone else in Puerto Rico is watching at that moment.

If none of the first 8 appeals, viewers can drill down to the next mosaic screen, which has the next 8 most popular shows, and so on. The company polls 10 percent of its boxes at random to determine how many people are watching each show in order to build the list.

“We explored using recommendation engines, but we didn’t want it to be Liberty telling you ‘watch this.’ This is more like Amazon telling you ‘this is what other people are looking at,’” said Waldo Hooker, Liberty Puerto Rico VP of product and strategy.

Viewers can also select mosaics for HD-only content, movies, or sports. Liberty Puerto Rico hasn’t removed the old grid-based guide, but Hooker said that it appears that once subscribers start using the new guide, called the Social Content Navigator, they tend to use the grid far less frequently.

Parent company Liberty Global has been using ActiveVideo’s CloudTV software to extend its Horizon cloud service to legacy boxes. Many of its properties (with a notable exception in Virgin Media, which is using a Tivo-based system) are adopting Horizon.

The cloud-based mosaic overcomes the limitations of single-tuner STBs to simultaneously display on a single screen up to 8 different live video channels; web-based metadata provides continuously updated rankings of viewership for each of the channels. Liberty Cablevision in Puerto Rico has a mix of set-tops that includes a sizable installed base of bare-bones, older generation boxes, in addition to HD set-tops and advanced DVRs.

By authoring the UI in HTML5, rendering it in the cloud and streaming it to any STB, Liberty is delivering Social Content Navigator functionality to all set-tops, including those that lack browsers, ActiveVideo said.

Liberty Puerto Rico is extending the service for no additional charge. Availability of the Social Content Navigator to all of its 250,000 subscribers is anticipated by the end of 2014.

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