Videotron got into the TV Everywhere act with the launch of its illicoweb.tv Web portal yesterday, but that’s just the starting point for the cable operator’s ambitious plans this year.
Videotron customers who are both Internet and digital subscribers can now access 32 TV channels in both French and English for free on the new Web portal. Digital radio, concerts and karaoke are also available on illicoweb.tv.
Marc Labelle, Videotron’s general manager of corporate communications, said users need to authenticate themselves on a secure site by inputting a secure code and some personal profile information. The users need to input both the code and their personal profile info each time they wish to access the online content.
Labelle said using the sign-in page each time was more secure than a single sign-on authentication method. Videotron does have bandwidth caps in place, so users are eventually timed out if they forget to turn the service off from their PCs. Subscribers can also view the amount of bandwidth they’ve used during a given month on a Web page, but Labelle said Videotron was working on e-mail alerts and other forms of notification for when usage was starting to max out.
Labelle said the end goal was to have the Web portal mirror all of the shows and content that is currently available across Videotron’s linear and VOD lineups. Labelle said the Web portal wasn’t just an advanced technology for its consumers, but the first step in an emerging ecosystem, which will include a wireless service.
“We’re really proud of this one” Labelle said. “We think it’s a win-win for our partners with the branding publicity they get. For the customer, this is the first step in having all of their communications, technological and entertainment needs in the palm of their hands.”
While Rogers is offering  registration-free sampling of some of its TV Everywhere-type content to subscribers anywhere in Canada, Videotron’s online content currently has some restrictions for its subscribers outside of its footprint.
Videotron, the largest cable operator in Quebec, is a subsidiary of Quebecor Media, which owns various broadcasting properties in Canada. Videotron is actively working with its current partners to increase the amount of content that is available on the Web portal.
A story in the Montréal Gazette said Videotron is also negotiating rights agreements with U.S. networks, such as CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox.
Labelle said Videotron, which is gearing up to launch its own 3G network this year, is working on a communications, technology and entertainment platform for its subscribers, which will start to coalesce this year. The illicoweb.tv Web portal is one of the first steps in creating that ecosystem.
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