Interactive TV News Round-Up (II): Comcast, CMC, Arris, Epix, Roku, Accedo Broadband

--Comcast Launches Xfinity Mobile App for BlackBerry
--CMC, Arris Enhance Features, Reduce Hardware Costs of VOD In A Box
--Epix Becomes Roku's First "Authenticated TV Channel"

Because the [itvt] editorial team has been on the road the past few weeks--as well as working on our second annual TVOT NYC Intensive event--we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format. We anticipate that it will take us a few more days to catch up with all the recent news: so if your company has sent us a press release or briefed us on an announcement, and you don't yet see your news covered in this issue, please bear with us.

  • Comcast has announced the availability of a version of its Xfinity Mobile app for BlackBerry smartphones. According to the company, key features of the app, which is also available for iPhone, iPad and Android, include: "1) Access your Unified Inbox with Comcast.net emails and visual voicemail for your Comcast home phone service. 2) Schedule recordings on your DVR so you never miss a show. 3) View TV listings, filter by Movies/Sports/HD/Kids, set up reminders that are integrated with your Blackberry Calendar. 4) Forward home phone calls to your Blackberry or any other number. 5) Sync your Xfinity Address Book with your Blackberry contacts. 6) View On Demand movie trailers."
  • Comcast Media Center's HITS arm and Arris Group last month announced that they have lowered hardware costs for, and have made various improvements to, their VOD In A Box service (VODIAB). "VODIAB, designed to give independent operators an alternative to traditional video-on-demand (VOD) deployments, now costs even less and features improvements to the product," the companies state in their press materials. "New price reductions on hardware can save cable operators up to 38 percent on their capital investment in the service. Product changes include an increase in base storage capacity, as well as the ability for operators to add incremental storage to reach the full 3,300 hours of content available from VODIAB. When combined with the reduced pricing, the increased storage lowers the cost per viewable hour of VOD content up to 63 percent...VODIAB allows cable operators to offer their customers a wider selection of digital video programming options and time-shifting capabilities that address content consumption demands and schedules. Jointly offered by HITS and Arris, VODIAB is a turnkey solution targeted at cable operators serving fewer than 25,000 digital video customers. It includes hardware, software, management and thousands of hours of HD and SD programming in a single service."
  • In a posting on Roku's corporate blog, Monday, the company's VP of business development, Jim Funk, officially announced the availability of an Epix channel on its service that can be accessed by authenticated pay-TV subscribers in accordance with the "TV Everywhere" content-distribution model. "There are many stories in the media about over-the-top video (OTT) and cord-cutting, with Roku frequently mentioned as being at the forefront of this movement," Funk wrote. "At the same time, most Roku users have a video subscription service from a cable, satellite, or a telco provider and for them, Roku is a complementary solution for video and music entertainment. With that in mind, video providers are introducing 'authenticated' channels. These are channels that will allow you access through your Roku player if you authenticate (prove) that you subscribe to that channel through a cable, satellite, or telco provider...Epix is our first authenticated TV channel...With the launch of the Epix channel on Roku, we are providing a new option for our users who subscribe to a cable, satellite or telco provider that offers Epix--increasing the value they get from their Epix TV subscription and their enjoyment of the Roku player. Epix subscribers can now take advantage of their Roku player to watch movies and original shows on demand, in HD, on any television in the house. This is a great solution for a second TV where there may not be a cable connection, or for Roku users who might prefer to browse the Epix on-demand selection using the familiar Roku interface. Plus, Roku puts thousands of Epix movies on your TV in HD that were previously only available online at EpixHD.com. No need to hook your computer to your TV anymore. An Epix TV subscription is currently available to Charter, Cox, DISH Network, Mediacom, Suddenlink, and Verizon FiOS customers...If you use one of these providers but don't subscribe to Epix or you use a provider that doesn't currently offer Epix, you can get a 14-day free trial and sample the newest movie channel to join Roku." In other Roku news: The company has launched more casual games for its new Roku 2 platform (which originally launched with "Angry Birds"--see the article published on itvt.com, July 20th). The games were developed by Accedo Broadband.


North America