NDS in Deals with DEN, Canal+, Viasat, ASTER

--MediaHighway Middleware Lets Canal+ Subs Transform HD STB's into DVR's

News Corp.-owned conditional access and interactive TV technology
provider, NDS, has generated a fair amount of ITV-related news over
the past few weeks. Among the highlights:

  • The company says that Digital Entertainment Networks (DEN), a new
    entrant in the Indian digital cable space (note: the company already has
    a pan-Indian analog cable service), has selected a suite of its
    solutions--including its VideoGuard conditional access system, its
    MediaHighway middleware (which the company claims has been
    cumulatively deployed in 76.4 million devices), and a customized,
    advanced EPG--to support the launch of its service. According to NDS,
    DEN plans to eventually offer interactive TV services over its new
    digital plant. NDS's R&D facility in Bangalore, which has been
    operational for eight years and which now employs around 800, will
    lead the development of its solution for DEN.
  • French pay-TV provider, Canal+ Group, has selected the latest
    version of the company's MediaHighway middleware in order to enable
    its subscribers to transform their HD set-top boxes into DVR's. Canal+
    launched its HD satellite set-top two years ago, and to date has
    deployed around 250,000 units. The box allows subscribers to
    implement DVR functionality by connecting an external hard drive via
    a USB port: a list of hard drives that have been approved for use with
    the box (i.e. that meet various performance, stability and security
    requirements) is available on Canal+'s Web site. As part of Canal+'s
    adoption of the new version of MediaHighway, the middleware has
    automatically downloaded new software to its subscribers' HD set-tops:
    the software enables the boxes to detect if an external hard drive has
    been connected to them and then to format that drive for use as a DVR.
    According to NDS, subscribers may use multiple external hard drives
    with the boxes. Canal+ has begun a marketing campaign to encourage
    its subscribers to upgrade to its HD set-top and to take advantage of the
    latter's DVR capabilities.
  • Indian cable TV services company, Hathway, has chosen the
    company's XTV DVR technology to launch what it claims is India's
    first cable DVR. The solution is scheduled to be deployed over the
    course of this year. According to NDS, it will support such services as
    series-linked TV shows, push-VOD, trickplay functionality, dual-tuner
    functionality, and the ability for end-users to build and manage their
    personal playlists using Hathway's existing NDS EPG. NDS claims that
    a cumulative total of over 10.4 million XTV-powered DVR's have now
    been deployed around the world.
  • Viasat, a satellite TV operator that serves Scandinavia and the Baltic
    region, has extended its existing agreement with NDS, under which the
    company provides it with its VideoGuard conditional access
    technology, and has also signed a new agreement that calls for NDS to
    supply it with its MediaHighway middleware, its XTV DVR
    technology and a customized EPG to power its new HDTV service.
  • Polish triple-play operator, ASTER, has selected the company to
    provide the technology for the next-generation of its cable TV service.
    Its deal with the operator sees NDS providing it with its VideoGuard
    conditional access technology, its MediaHighway middleware, a
    customized EPG, and a suite of interactive technologies. Following its
    upgrade of its system, ASTER plans to launch a range of interactive
    services, including DVR and VOD. According to NDS, its technology
    will enable ASTER to migrate its analog cable customers to digital
    more quickly (currently, around 55,000 of its 370,000 pay-TV
    subscribers have digital cable service). As part of its upgrade of its
    cable service, ASTER is also deploying new set-tops from Kaon
    Media, including an HD DVR.

In related news: the trial has finally begun in satellite TV provider
DISH's (formerly EchoStar) corporate espionage lawsuit against NDS.
DISH claims that NDS, in an attempt to boost the desirability of its
own security solutions, paid hackers to crack and distribute code from
DISH's NagraStar smartcards, which resulted in widespread theft of its
service, and forced it to distribute new smartcards to its customers.
NDS strongly denies the charges.