Time Warner Launches Three More "TV Everywhere" Services for Verizon FiOS Customers

--Verizon FiOS TV Launches New Features for IMG 1.8, Reveals Feature Plans for IMG 1.9

Verizon said last week that Time Warner is launching broadband VOD services for three more of its channels--Adult Swim, Cartoon Network and truTV--on Verizon FiOS TV Online. The new "TV Everywhere"-type services join similar services from Time Warner-owned TNT and TBS, which launched on FiOS TV Online in June (note: the "TV Everywhere" distribution model--which was originally championed by Time Warner chairman and CEO, Jeff Bewkes--seeks, via authentication technology, to make programming that pay-TV customers have already paid for through their cable, satellite or IPTV subscriptions available to those customers on multiple Web sites and platforms, and thus aims to head off the threat posed to pay-TV services by the increasing availability of over-the-top programming). All five services offer programming online within 24 hours after it airs on linear TV. "We are excited to further the TV Everywhere initiative by making content from Adult Swim, Cartoon Network and truTV available to FiOS TV customers," Michael Quigley, VP of business development and multiplatform distribution for Time Warner's Turner Network Sales arm, said in a prepared statement. "We look forward to partnering with other distributors to reward customers with access to our popular networks when and where they want." Added Verizon's VP of content strategy and acquisition, Terry Denson: "We look forward to adding more Time Warner content to FiOS TV Online and working with other early adopters to lead the way in delivering the best content on multiple devices."

Adult-oriented animation channel, Adult Swim, launched its service on FiOS TV Online last week. The service offers episodes from such shows as "The Boondocks," "The Venture Bros.," "Delocated," "Children's Hospital" and "Metalocalypse." The services from Cartoon Network and truTV (offers criminal justice-themed reality programming) are slated to launch within the next month. According to Verizon, customers who subscribe to both FiOS TV and FiOS Internet will be able to watch programs from the new services--at home or away--using a PC or laptop and any broadband connection. They will authenticate themselves by entering their Verizon Online user names and passwords, the company says. The services will be available both on Verizon's own FiOS TV Online site (http://www.verizon.com/fiostvonline) and on dedicated sites operated by Time Warner: Adult Swim's TV Everywhere service can be found at http://www.adultswim.com/tveverywhere, and the sites for truTV and Cartoon Network will be announced once their services launch, Verizon and Time Warner say.

Other online programming services offered by Verizon FiOS include Starz Play, ESPN3, Disney Connection, YES Networks, HBO Go and Epix.

In other Verizon FiOS news: In a blog posting last week by its director of product development and management of video services, Joe Ambeault, the company announced several enhancements provided by the latest version (1.8) of its Interactive Media Guide software for FiOS TV set-top boxes and DVR's, and also revealed some of the features that will be provided by version 1.9.

According to Ambeault, Verizon has already begun deploying IMG 1.8 and the roll-out should be complete within a few weeks. "IMG 1.8 is a feature release and is almost entirely focused on video-on-demand," Ambeault wrote. "There are minor changes to how we handle guide data and some corrections to software issues. But most of the enhancements are focused on scaling the FiOS On Demand platform to accommodate the growing number of users, their increasing activities on the service and our future plans for evolving the On Demand service. For the most part, these enhancements will be transparent to you initially, but become very apparent over the coming weeks and months. Our next-generation On Demand infrastructure paves the way for a dramatically larger library of content that grows faster than ever before. This is accomplished with a new hierarchical storage and streaming architecture that leverages Verizon's nationwide long-haul backbone network. This network's capacity is not measured in megabits or even gigabits; rather this network provides terabits and terabits of capacity across the entire country. Employing this massive network means that, in addition to watching content stored in a Verizon facility near your home, in some cases you will be watching On Demand content that is stored thousands of miles from your home--all transparent to you and with the same high quality that FiOS TV has always delivered. In this new environment, we only have to expand one central location's storage, and every customer gets more On Demand content, compared to today where that same result requires more than one dozen facilities to be upgraded over several months. With this new architecture, we are looking forward to rocketing the content selection into six-figure land. And theoretically this new platform could scale to millions of content options over the coming years."

Ambeault also stated that IMG 1.8:

  • Presents viewers who are searching for content with "a single title with an option to watch the SD version or the HD version," instead of presenting them with two separate titles ("i.e. title X in SD and title X in HD").
  • Supports multi-room viewing: "With IMG 1.8 you can start watching a movie in the living room and then move to the bedroom and access 'Recently Viewed' to continue watching that movie right where you left off," Ambeault wrote.
  • Improves audio handling: "Some of you reported the audio was 'too low' in IMG 1.71, so we implemented a 11 dB gain for IMG 1.8 when heavy dynamic range is selected in the Settings menu," Ambeault explained.


However, Ambeault wrote in his blog post, "perhaps most exciting about this release is the commissioning of software that enables a completely new paradigm for Verizon FiOS On Demand. As we progress through the remainder of 2010, the new On Demand capabilities in 1.8 will enable us to further banish the legacy approach that has historically kept content trapped on the television screen. Get ready for more flexible viewing options, which we will detail in a future blog post."

In addition--while cautioning that "during the normal course of technology development, items are added and removed from scope for a variety of reasons," and that therefore "some of these items may not be included in the next release, while others not represented below could be added"--Ambeault provided a list of features that Verizon expects to add to the next version (1.9) of the IMG (note: for more on new FiOS TV features and services that Verizon plans to roll out in the not-too-distant future, see the article published on itvt.com, August 19th):

  • "3DTV integration over HDMI (set-top auto configures your TV),
  • DVR storage expansion (eSATA),
  • 16:9 IMG graphical interfaces,
  • New, more TV-friendly search,
  • Guide data improvements,
  • Native MP3 and MPEG-4 support,
  • User-configurable Widgets dock,
  • Parental controls wizards and single household settings,
  • On-screen remote control low battery indicator."

 

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