News Round-Up (III)

--Cox Unveils Cisco/tru2way-Powered "Plus Package," Featuring Frog-Designed/NDS-Built "Trio" Guide
--DISH Network, Univision Partner on National RFI Interactive TV Advertising Product
--DVB Completes First Live Transmission Using New DVB-C2 Standard
--Ensequence Partners with Softel, S&T, VDS to Offer Single-Source Interactive TV Platform

The [itvt] editorial team is currently on the road, so we are covering today's stories in round-up/summary form. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience to our readers.

  • Cox Communications has announced a new "TV experience," called the Plus Package, that is based on tru2way-powered Cisco 8642 HD/DVR and 1642 HD receivers. While the new offering features, among other things, whole-home DVR functionality and an expanded line-up of HD channels, what Cox calls its "crown jewel" is its new "Trio" programming guide, which the MSO designed in partnership with Frog Design and which was implemented by NDS (which, under the terms of its contract with Cox, will be able to market it to other operators while sharing revenues with the MSO). Development of the new guide has been underway since 2008. "The Trio guide features three panels [hence its name] on a single screen to make content browsing easier, more informative and intuitive," Cox explains in its press materials. "Panel one (left) lists channels vertically in numerical order. Panel two (middle) shows programs on the selected channel, and panel three (right) gives a detailed description of the program selected in the middle pane. On DEMAND listings include titles, poster art and program description information all in the three panes of a single Trio screen, making navigation and selection of On DEMAND content fast and easy. In addition, the Trio guide gives customers the ability to sort available program information in a grid guide view, a theme view, a high-definition programming view, a Zone Channels view and a favorite channels view. Uniquely, the Trio guide also endows customers with the ability to search and browse related content across three platforms--linear airings, On DEMAND titles and DVR recordings--seamlessly and conveniently. The Trio guide's powerful unified search function allows customers to search based on title, actor/director and keyword. The Trio guide's browse-related feature identifies shows that have something in common with a currently selected show, such as upcoming episodes, related series, shows within the same genre or shows starring the same actors. Up to eight users in a home can personalize their viewing experience by selecting favorite channels and customizing ITV applications." Cox says that the Plus Package will be available in select markets in the current quarter and deployed to its entire footprint by year's end.
  • DISH Network and Spanish-language broadcaster, Univision, have announced a deal to offer interactive trigger capabilities for a "Request for Information" (RFI) interactive TV advertising service on Univision's national broadcast network. "DISH Network subscribers who have a DVR will be able to use their remote to request more information from Univision's advertisers as well as receive coupons or free samples," the companies explain in their press materials. "Univision will now offer advertisers spots with interactive triggers as a way to enhance national campaigns delivered through DISH Network's satellite service. The interactive applications allow viewers to select an overlay displayed during a commercial that will take them to a page to obtain more information about an advertiser's product or service. Univision will also be able to provide advertisers with campaign reports about viewer participation in DISH Network's interactive households."
  • The DVB Project has announced the first live transmission employing DVB-C2, its new second-generation baseline transmission system for digital TV via cable. The Project bills DVB-C2 as employing the latest modulation and coding techniques to enable highly efficient use of cable networks. According to the organization, the live transmission "demonstrates that DVB-C2 is now ready for implementation and will provide real opportunities for MSO's to introduce new tiers of HDTV, video-on-demand and interactive TV services.
  • Interactive TV authoring solutions provider, Ensequence, has announced that it has entered partnerships with interactive application streamer provider, Softel, streamer provider, Strategy & Technology, and broadcast automation vendor, VDS, to provide a single-source interactive TV platform for TV service providers and programmers. The company is demo'ing its iTV Manager platform in its booth (239) at the NCTA Cable Show in Los Angeles this week. "We have been working with leading programmers and distributors to make TV content interactive for ten years," Ensequence's chief technology and product officer, Aslam Khader, said in a prepared statement. "The Ensequence iTV Manager platform, which integrates with our partners' components, delivers our customers a truly comprehensive interactive TV offering that enables them to make as many ads and programs interactive as they like. Our customers can now easily, affordably and dependably deploy ITV in large volumes across cable, satellite and telco--reaching 45 million viewers by the end of 2010." While Ensequence has been working separately with Softel, S&T and VDS for several years, it says it is "now working more closely with each vendor to ensure seamless ITV integration," and to provide programmers and TV service providers with a "single focus point for vendor sourcing and support."


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