SeaChange International has introduced a new software application that aims to add DVD functionality to everyday digital cable set-tops.

The patent-pending application, part of SeaChange's VODlink software suite, was developed and built by Digital Video Arts, a SeaChange software developer division that provides client integration and integration with other applications such as interactive program guides. SeaChange acquired DVA in Jan. 2000.

In addition to DVD-on-Demand, other VODlink applications include channel overlays that allow programmers to provide their own look and feel to on-screen VOD interfaces, and a "portal" capability that allows cable operators to organize VOD content into specific categories and create special promotions tied to on-demand titles.

The DVD-on-Demand application, designed to work with legacy digital boxes such as the widely deployed Motorola DCT-2000, delivers DVDs in exactly their original formats, including the streams, extra content and the other audio and graphics generally found on original DVDs.

"This is not a re-creation of a DVD with the ability to do chapter selection, but the actual authored DVD as done by the content provider running in this environment," said DVA President George Breen. "There is no re-authoring involved."

In addition to first-run movies, the concept could also be applied to local events programming, archived television shows and long-form commercials.

Breen added that the application has been integrated with a spate of interactive program guides such as TV Guide Interactive, Scientific-Atlanta's SARA, Pioneer's Passport and TVGateway.

Breen said the application can also work, with minimal changes, with VOD platforms other than SeaChange's. Presently, SeaChange is in VODlink discussions with Concurrent Computer Corp., he said.

The application "will come out of SeaChange first, but our vision is that it will run with other VOD vendors," Breen said.

James Kelso, general manager and vice president of marketing of SeaChange's broadband systems group, stressed that the DVD-on-Demand application will likely apply to content from cable networks and cable advertisers before involving the big Hollywood studios.

Although SeaChange will provide the tools necessary for a DVD-on-Demand service, Kelso added, the company will leave content negotiations to cable operators and traditional on-demand content aggregators such as TVN Entertainment and In Demand.

SeaChange hopes to provide a VODlink toolkit for third parties eventually, but the early plans are to work with directly with content providers and give deployment support to cable operators.

Breen said SeaChange plans to assemble a VODlink programmers association, but noted that Starz Encore Group, Scripps Networks and Discovery Networks are among the early supporters of the platform.

SeaChange said it will make VODlink available to cable operators in January 2003.