CableLabs took a step toward standardizing metadata for VOD with the completion of a first set of specifications.

"It's not really an old project," says spokesman Mike Schwartz. CableLabs has been working on the specs since late last year.

The spec, CableLabs VoD Content Specification V1.0, seeks to create a common approach to handling descriptive data related to VOD, called metadata. The data could vary from those identifying a title of a VOD event or movie to those determining how a movie or event may be licensed and displayed, CableLabs says. Right now, there's no standard way to handle metadata.

CableLabs says it set up the project because members thought metadata standards would cut operating and content encoding costs, and make it easier to integrate VOD metadata with program navigational features, electronic program guides and bandwidth management services at cable system headends.

Present contributors include Time Warner Cable, N2 Broadband, DIVA, SeaChange, Concurrent Computer Corp. and nCUBE, each of which are part of the project's royalty-free intellectual property rights pool.

Schwartz says he didn't think there would be that many more versions, but CableLabs expects work to continue on more metadata specs through the year.

Version one of the specs are live on CableLabs' Web site.