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June 13 , 2006
Press Pause:Cablevision delays RS-DVR rollout pending court decisionLast week was a significant one for plans Cablevision System Corp. has for an ambitious and controversial Remote Storage-Digital Video Recorder (RS-DVR).
First, following allegations from several networks and studios that Cablevision’s forthcoming RS-DVR trial violates copyright laws, the MSO countered with a suit of its own, claiming it has legal “fair use” legal protection stemming from the 1984 Sony Betamax case, and that its network-based DVR service is functionally and technically identical the traditional set-top storage-based DVRs. Cablevision is also holding that the RS-DVR is not video-on-demand, because, among other things, the customer in the RS-DVR model makes the recordings and the system makes as many recordings of a show that individual customers request.
But how all of this will shake out is now on a super legal fast track, and we should know much more about the future of the nDVR by this fall.
That’s because Cablevision has agreed to postpone the launch of the RS-DVR until the programmer- and studio-led lawsuit against the operator is resolved. Under a scheduling order set by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, discovery in the case should be wrapped up by July 31, with the hearing to follow on Oct. 30 or 31.
How do you think this will be resolved? Will Cablevision find redemption for its approach and be able to move forward without any major changes? Will Cablevision have to pay separate license fees? Will the court make both sides yield on key points?
Tell me what you think (send e-mail to email@example.com) and I’ll share your views in an upcoming issue.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Editor in Chief, CED magazine and xOD Capsule
Deployment deal,specs participation set cable role for OpenTVIt appears that OpenTV Corp.’s days of being on the outside and looking in on the U.S. cable industry are over following two significant deals: one to supply middleware to Time Warner Cable; and another to participate in the CableLabs OpenCable process.
The Time Warner dealIn the first example, Time Warner Cable said it will use OpenTV’s Core2.0 middleware to ensure that the MSO’s in-house digital navigator application runs on digital set-tops and headends from Motorola Inc.
The majority of Time Warner’s systems use digital systems from Scientific Atlanta, with the MSO’s system in Houston as the primary exception. But the percentage of Time Warner systems based on Motorola gear will increase significantly if and when Time Warner Cable acquires several systems from Adelphia Communications.
The deal should also enable OpenTV to write and deploy additional apps for Time Warner boxes that will run the Core system as well as the CableLabs OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP).
Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deployment marks OpenTV’s first with a major U.S. cable operator. USA Media Group gave OpenTV a go in Northern California during the early part of the decade, but that work was set aside when the MSO was sold.
OpenTV Chairman& CEO Jim Chiddix
“This [deal] is a very important step for us,” said OpenTV Chairman & CEO Jim Chiddix.
Time Warner Cable expects to begin deploying OpenTV’s software in late 2006 in its Motorola markets, offering it on widely deployed, low-end DCT-2000s as well as Motorola’s more full-featured models, which presumably include those that support high-definition television and digital video recording.
Although Time Warner Could port its navigation system without OpenTV’s help, it can now do it on a much faster track.
Without a uniform middleware platform that insulates apps from the underlying operating system and drivers, “integrating Time Warner’s guide with every Motorola set-top box would be very time consuming,” Chiddix said.
He also isn’t worried that OpenTV has not had much experience with Motorola boxes. OpenTV’s experience with myriad set-top platforms should be a plus.
“It’s what we do for a living,” Chiddix said, noting that OpenTV did demonstrate its software running on Motorola boxes at the 2006 National Show. “We realized if we didn’t have a demonstrable product, we wouldn’t get much attention from cable operators.”
Contributing to OpenCableOpenTV’s agreement to participate in the OpenCAble initiative, meanwhile, will all but remove any potential patent squabbles related to cable-fed interactive television (iTV) services and OCAP.
OpenTV’s participation is considered important because the set-top software specialist happens to have north of 450 patents and other intellectual property linked to iTV applications and middleware.
OCAP, which incorporates big chunks of the Multimedia Home Platform (MHP), uses a royalty-bearing model.
In addition to participating in the standards development process and how those standards will work, participation also ensures that if OpenTV has any patents that apply to OCAP that they’ll be licensed on fair and reasonable terms, according to Chiddix.
“We were in the [middleware] business very early. We have some very basic patents,” he said. He added that OpenTV did not take the joining of the CableLabs process “lightly,” but realized that it would be necessary if OpenTV were to play a serious role in legacy and more advanced OCAP cable environments.
OpenTV is also participating in an OCAP patent pool headed up by Via Licensing Last July, Via Licensing released the licensing terms for patents connected to the 1.0 versions of OCAP and DVB-MHP. Under the terms disclosed, OCAP fees will run $1.50 per consumer device for manufacturers, and, for cable operators, 30 cents per sub per year, or a one-time, five-year license for $1.50. In addition to OpenTV, identified patent holders included Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable, Panasonic, Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics and Thomson.
Although that work is not yet finalized, Chiddix is a fan of the proposed model.
“Patent pools work very well, and MPEG[-2] is a wonderful example. Those who do have patents get paid. Nobody sues anybody. It’s a good system,” he said.
Chiddix noted that OpenTV’s decision to participate in OpenCable has no bearing on the company’s ongoing case with Double C Technologies LLC, a joint venture of Comcast and Cox Communications born out of their $82 million acquisition of the North American assets of Liberate Technologies, a one-time OpenTV rival. The original lawsuit between OpenTV and Liberate was filed before Comcast and Cox acquired the Liberate assets.
OpenTV and Double C are working toward a settlement that could result in business relationships between the two parties, Chiddix said.
USVO-Movielink patent spat moves to appeal phaseWhile OpenTV and Double C continue to hammer out a settlement, two other companies apparently are just hitting their litigious stride.
USA Video Technology Corp. (USVO) and Movielink LLC have headed to the appeal stage in a case related to a USVO patent describing technology used to power video-on-demand applications.
In late January 2005, a Delaware court ruled that the studio-backed Movielink Internet download/rental service did not infringe the USVO patent in question (No. 5,130,792), which describes a “system and method for a user to request, and have delivered over a network, a digitized video program.” USVO said the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued the patent on July 14, 1992.
USVO and Movielink appeared earlier this week before the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. In its appeal, USVO is seeking “fair compensation and an injunction” against Movielink, which USVO alleges has infringed and continues to infringe on the ‘792 patent.
Movielink is a joint venture of MGM Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios and Warner Bros. In addition to movie rentals, the service recently introduced an option that allows users to download and own titles electronically and to back them up on disk.
Time Warner Cable, BIAP play ballTime Warner Cable and BIAP Systems have teamed to launch a TV-based app that allows users to track their fantasy baseball teams.
Thanks to its partnership with BIAP,Time Warner subs in some systems willbe able to track their fantasy baseballteams right on the TV screen.
The “Scoring Alert” function, for example, tells customers when a player on their fantasy team has accomplished something of importance, such as hitting a home run or stealing a base. Other elements and functions include a stats center, a ticker view of player stats, a league leader board that tracks the top five pitchers and hitters, and a full-screen view of the customer’s fantasy team roster.
BIAP’s set-top software platform uses artificial intelligence techniques to acquire data from the Internet and other sources.
Initially, the MSO is offering the new service free to digital customers in Green Bay, Wis.; Austin and San Antonio, Texas; and Columbia, S.C.
Last year, Time Warner, in partnership with BIAP, launched a similar app that tracked fantasy football stats. The baseball stat tracker marks the fifth interactive app from BIAP that Time Warner has launched. Among them is a program that monitors bids made on eBay, as well as a news ticker.
TiVo broadens broadband video tiltTiVo Inc. continues to find new ways to leverage its DVRs with Ethernet ports…this time with “TiVoCast,” a free, ad-supported service that will pipe Internet-based video to subscriber televisions.
TiVo continues to carve out new content and distributionstrategies for broadband-capable DVRs with Ethernet ports.
The service will provide both “mainstream” and “specialty-based” content.
Here’s a sampling of what will be offered in the early going:
NBA and WNBA showcases
Fare from The New York Times, including A.O. Scott’s “Movie Minute” film reviews
Heavy.com comment, including “Behind the Music that Sucks” and “American Suck Countdown”
iVillage —content for women, featuring shows on beauty, parenting, and fashion
CNET (shows and segments on consumer electronics and computers)
Fare from Danger Rangers (animation); H2O: HipHop on Demand; Union on Demand (From USA Network); Rocketboom; and Here! (programming for gay and lesbian audiences)
Those mark just the latest Internet video content providers to tap into TiVo. Last month, the DVR pioneer scratched out a deal to supply video from Brightcove, which has programming relationships with companies such as Discovery Communications and MTV Networks, among others.
Japan op pipes HD-VOD in H.264OnDemand TV Inc. of Japan is working with SeaChange International on an IP-based video-on-demand system that will deliver high-definition video in the bandwidth-conserving H.264 format.
OnDemand TV is slated to begin offering the HD VOD service next month in Tokyo and Osaka via its fiber-to-the-home network. Use of MPEG-4 will offer the operator about a 50 percent bandwidth savings over more traditional MPEG-2-based streams.
The Japan-based operator said it will continue to offer standard-definition VOD in MPEG-2.
“The SeaChange platform we had in place readily supported our expansion to H.264,” said Yasuyuki Taniguichi, chief manager of OnDemand TV’s engineering department.
OnDemand TV Inc. is a joint venture of ITOCHU Corp. and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.
‘Wanda at Large’ (which stars comic Wanda Sykes) is just one of the shows featured on IN2TV’s new ‘Gone But Not Forgotten TV’ channel.
In2TV adds two ‘channels’In2TV, the recently launched, ad-supported video service from AOL and Warner Bros, has expanded its menu with two new broadband “channels” — “Gone But Not Forgotten TV” and “Get Real TV.”
The first will showcase relatively recently cancelled but critically acclaimed series such as “Wanda at Large,” “The Michael Richards Show,” “The George Carlin Show” and “The Ben Stiller Show.” The latter centers on “unscripted” relationship and court offerings including “ElimiDate,” “The Will,” “The People’s Court” (with Judge Joe Wapner), and “Change of Heart.”
Pioneer swings with WidevineThe Pioneer Telephone Cooperative of Oklahoma has tapped the Widevine Technologies “Cypher” platform to protect and deliver secured premium broadcast and video-on-demand content.
The co-op, which is deploying IP-based video services, has a customer base comprised of 72 towns and 1,100 miles of fiber optic cable. Widevine’s downloadable encryption system will be employed to protect content from studios such as Warner Bros. and Paramount, and premium programmers such as HBO. On the VOD end, the encryption will protect content from the Golf Channel, Outdoor Life Channel and the stable of programmers from Scripps Networks.
Pioneer noted that its decision to use Widevine was also tied to potential plans to distribute digital video and other content to mobile devices and PCs.We are making changes and additions (including international deployments) to ourWeb-based “living” deployment chart. If you have a new deployment to report for the VOD Scorecard and the Web-based deployment chart, please contact CED Editor Jeff Baumgartner.
June 2006Issue Contents »
Company: StratacacheHeadquarters: Dayton, OhioCEO: Chris RiegelURL: www.stratacache.com
Claim to fame: In addition to caching and “push” VOD platforms, the company also makes network appliance monitoring and reporting tools.
Recent news of note: Unveiled a software based push VOD system for IPTV service providers. The OmniCast for Push VOD platform can delivery content to “tens of thousands” of set-tops simultaneously. Its first publicly disclosed set-top integration deal is with Amino Communications, maker of the AM-5000, an IP-based set-top with an on-board DVR.
Company: BIAP Systems Inc.Headquarters: Plano, TexasCEO: Timothy PetersURL: www.biap.com
Claim to fame: Leverages artificial intelligence and software agents to offer personalized and local information sent via interactive television.
Recent news of note: Teamed with Time Warner Cable in select markets to help digital subs track the stats of their fantasy baseball teams.
SCTE Cable-Tec Expo June 20-23, 2006Denver, Colo. More information: Click Here
2nd AnnualC-COR Global IP Summit June 28-29, 2006 Athens, GreeceMore information: Click Here
CTAM SummitJuly 17-19, 2006Boston, Mass. More information: Click Here
Cross Platform Summit 2006Aug. 8-9, 2006West Hollywood, Calif.More information: Click Here
IPComm 2006Sept. 25-27, 2006 Nashville, Tenn. More information: Click Here
2006 FTTH Conference & ExpoOct. 2-5, 2006 The Venetial Resort Las Vegas, Nev. More information: Click Here
CTHRA Fall Symposium Oct. 18, 2006Philadelphia, Pa. Park Hyatt HotelMore information: Click Here
TelcoTV 2006Nov. 6-8, 2006Dallas, TexasMore information: Click Here
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