China going ‘over-the-top?’
With a country full of Akimbos
and DaveTVs, the “over-the-top” concept in the U.S. is a bit
like yesterday’s news. There are plenty of content companies
out there that are using high-speed pipes to distribute mainstream
and niche content to PCs or specialized players outfitted
with hard drives. The big question is how quickly these will
catch on beyond the early adopters.
But what caught my eye last week was a story in
Newsdaythat two big company founders—Cablevision
Systems Corp.’s Charles Dolan and Computer Associates’ Charles
Wang—are supporting a China-based startup that is distributing
more than 15,000 hours of video over the Internet.
Inc., the paper said, has been testing the service
since June, and already has north of 500 paying subs in the
New York metro area. Earlier this year, I was speaking to
a high-ranking cable engineer on the subject of IP bypass
video services. At the time, Akimbo had just announced a strategy
to partner with cable operators and distribute titles to DVRs.
I asked if he had lost much sleep about over-the-top video
“Not much,” he said, adding that he thought Akimbo’s latest
move smelled a bit desperate. But there was a tinge of worry
in his voice about a service being developed in China that
sounds an awful lot like KyLinTV—massive server farms
teeming with content, including stored broadcast fare, outside
U.S. control and jurisdiction.
Although KyLinTV will initially target about 3 million Chinese-American
homes, company executives told Newsday that programming
could include sports and Wang’s New York Islanders. For his
part, Dolan said such a service complements, rather than competes,
with traditional cable and DBS television services.
I have a sneaking suspicion that KyLinTV, which requires a
separate set-top box with wireless capabilities, is a bit
more interested in competing than complementing anything cable
or DBS does today.
navigates video-on-demand market EAT.TV
has entered the sector with a media rich navigation platform
specially targeted to video-on-demand applications.
The platform, dubbed ImageGuide, aims to deliver graphical,
emotional “browsing” capability to television, akin to the
way someone might sift through magazines or record jacket
covers, and to get far away from a more linear, text-based
Executives at EAT.TV, an acronym for Entertainment Advertising
Technology Television, believe that today’s navigation platforms
and interactive program guides are in great need of jazzier,
more intuitive interfaces.
needs to make [navigation] look like television again,” says
company Creative Director and Acting CEO Dewey Reid. And he’ll
probably get little argument, considering all of the “mosaic”
guide activity going on these days in DBS and cable. EAT.TV
is designing ImageGuide for three environments: television,
broadband PCs and cellular telephones.
Having cross-platform ability was critical to the design of
ImageGuide, says Jim Theberge, EAT.TV’s technology director
The San Francisco-based company is getting its product off
the ground on the Web.
Living.com is using the system to supply on-demand
access to videos from several programmers under the Scripps
Networks umbrella, including HGTV, Food Network, DIY, and
Fine Living. Taking a magazine-like approach, the site is
updated every two weeks with 36 new videos. This combo of
content and navigation has been getting some notice. ImageGuide
and Living.com were nominated for a 2005 Advanced Media Technology
To help pay the freight, ImageGuide also supports advertising.
General Motors, for example, is the prime sponsor of the Living.com
Web site, allowing visitors to access longer-form videos and
even shorter-form (8- or 10-second) interstitials on GM products.
To reduce the intrusiveness, the GM brand also appears as
impressions as users navigate from one screen to another.
“Shortening advertisements is critical in the broadband space,”
where attention spans are shorter than with television, Theberge
During testing, users have found the more subtle ad-supported
transitions “almost likeable,” he adds.
Because of the much longer sales cycle, EAT.TV is concentrating
most of its efforts on the path of least resistance (the Internet)
rather than the cable set-top environment. But it has participated
in a lab trial with Cablevision
Systems Corp. “I think our near-term best opportunities
are with cable programmers in environments that they control,”
Although ImageGuide supports snazzy graphics, it can play
out on just about any thin-client set-top with the help of
headend processing. In the Cablevision example, ICTV
Inc.‘s HeadendWare platform handles much of the processing
and heavy lifting at the headend, but ImageGuide is also be
designed to run on video-on-demand platforms. EAT.TV has yet
to announce any integration deals with traditional VOD vendors.
While ImageGuide can serve as an IPG, it doesn’t have to.
It can also complement existing IPGs as a VOD client, Theberge
EAT.TV, which competes with other IPG and VOD firms, is just
the latest company to try a new spin on navigation. Also new
to the sector is Hillcrest
Labs, a company that is taking more of a PC approach
to navigation with its “HoME” application suite and navigation
Verizon boots up with 600 VOD titles Verizon
launched its much-anticipated FiOS TV service last week in
Keller, Texas, kicking off with 600 video-on-demand titles.
Verizon, whose primary VOD partners are SeaChange
International and TVN
Entertainment, plans to offer as many as 1,800 on-demand
titles by year-end. Pay titles will run $3.95 for new releases,
and $2.95 for “library” fare.
While fellow RBOC SBC
Communications is using IPTV technologies to deliver
video for its “U-verse” service, Verizon is tapping an RF
overlay. Akin to cable television broadcast techniques, Verizon
is carrying video via a separate 1550 nm carrier.
Verizon’s expanded basic tier runs $39.95 per month for about
180 digital video and music channels. The service also features
upwards of 20 HDTV channels. Its “basic” tier is $12.95 per
month, offering 15-35 channels, but requires a digital set-top
box because Verizon has decided not to offer analog video
Verizon’s widescale carriage deal with The
Walt Disney Company, meanwhile, has a distinct broadband
twist to it. In addition to carrying a dozen Disney and ESPN
channels, Verizon has also agreed to offer ABC News Now, Disney
Connection and ESPN360 to its fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP)
Internet subscribers. The telco has also agreed to track down
and cutoff customers who are found to distribute Disney content
illegally over the Internet.
TVN puts ‘Eurocinema’ on-demand TVN
Entertainment has expanded its video-on-demand content
vaults with Eurocinema,
a service that features theatricals and short films from Europe
and across the globe.
will launch the service on Oct. 15 with 12 hours of content,
including “My Mother’s Smile,” a 2002 Cannes Film Festival
winner. Other titles include Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Nostalgia,”
and “Stand-by,” a film based on the same story as Steven Spielberg’s
TVN said each feature film will serve as the “centerpiece”
of a two-hour thematic block that provides information on
movie themes, along with commentaries and director interviews.
Each block, to be refreshed monthly, will run $3.99. By November,
TVN plans to expand the service to 20 hours of content.
TVN will serve as the exclusive distributor for Eurocinema,
and will handle everything from asset delivery and management,
to marketing and promotions, and affiliate support. Financial
terms were not disclosed.
TVN’s VOD affiliates include Adelphia Communications, Cablevision
Systems Corp., Charter Communications, Comcast Cable, Insight
Communications, and Mediacom Communications.
2010: A mobile TV odyssey
Although VOD dominates the TV screen,
it could also find a huge audience on smaller, mobile phone
screens as well, if recent forecasts hold up.
The number of mobile phone users subscribing to a streamed
or broadcast video service will jump to 65 million worldwide,
according to Juniper
Revenues, meanwhile, are expected to rise from $136 million
this year, to $7.6 billion in 2010.
Juniper said streamed services will maintain the lion’s share
of those customers (56 percent) and a bit more than half (51
percent) of the revenues. Broadcast mobile video services
should overtake streamed video content by 2012, the research
firm predicts, but adds that mobile broadcast TV still has
to muddle through competing standards.
Juniper believes DVB-H will become the most popular broadcast
mobile TV technology, with a market share of 35 percent by
We are making changes and
additions (including several international deployments) to
our Web- 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.
In the VOD world, the company offers a range of independent feature
films, documentaries and shorts.
Recent news of
Secured a VOD carriage deal with Comcast Cable. Comcast is offering
Palm content "free" to digital subs, who are urged to vote on the
Web whether a title should be released in U.S. theaters
and via DVD.
Company claim to
Founded in 1999, Integra5 survived the "dot-com" bubble
and now appears to be hitting its stride with UniTV, a software
platform replete with applications such as TV-based picture caller
ID and voicemail message waiting, SMS messaging, and instant messaging.
With an eye on convergence, UniTV serves to combine cellular, data,
voice and TV into a single platform.
Recent news of
Completed an integration deal with Digeo Inc., a maker of broadband
media center reference designs and software. This agreement teams
UniTV with the Moxi Media Center, which features Moxi Telephone,
an interface for apps such as caller ID, call logging, and message
"Wielding the wireless weapon: How to take aim at traditionally
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