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Cable Technology Feature Article

December 20, 2013

Time Warner Cable Joins TV Cloud UI Fray

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

The race for the hearts and minds of the digitized TV viewer continues apace, with Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable becoming the latest to supercharge its subscription perks via the cloud.

TWC is accelerating its rollout of a new guide with cloud-based navigation services that gives customers simplified navigation, more program information, a new video on demand (VOD) portal and better search capability. These new features are available on more than 2 million set-top boxes today and will be available on over 6 million boxes by the end of 2014.

“We’ve received great feedback on our new cloud-based guide features and are excited to deliver an even better television experience for our customers,” said Rob Marcus, president and COO. “We’re investing in improving our video service, making it even easier for our customers to enjoy all of their video choices.”

The new digital features include a widescreen HD guide, a search tool that brings more than simple title searches with a “What’s Hot” category that highlights popular titles with rich box art. Customers also can browse titles by genre. Search itself now returns results after the first letter, bringing up the closest matches first, refined as customers enter additional letters.

Meanwhile, all VOD programs are now featured in one seamless environment, with box art and intuitive ways to find programming, and the DVR Manager has been updated with rich graphics and simplified navigation of recordings and recording schedule, detailed information by series and programs, simplified multiple deletion and more.

TWC isn’t alone in deploying these types of middleware differentiators. Comcast’s Xfinity X1, Liberty Global’s Horizon platform, DirecTV’s (News - Alert) Genie DVR and DISH’s Hopper DVR all allow for similar feature sets with additional perks, like commercial-skipping for VOD content in DISH’s case. And Charter will trial a new cloud interface in Ft. Worth, it said in October, which is being made to work on IP devices as well as legacy, MPEG/QAM boxes for an all-in-one look and feel across all TVs. It’s also started to deploy TiVo (News - Alert) boxes that offer advanced TV functionality.

The effects on churn of such strategies are notable: In the third quarter, DISH’s investment in the Hopper helped it reduce subscriber churn to 1.66 percent in the picking up 35,000 net pay TV customers.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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