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Cable Technology Feature Article

June 29, 2013

Cable Spotlight Week in Review

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

This week, the cable and video industry focused in on new business models, the expansion of digital media distribution and fresh use cases. This was well showcased with our look at Popcornflix, which offers a collection of offbeat library content in a free, ad-supported model.

Mobile video and mobile advertising is a skyrocketing space, as we all know. And for the year-old, ad-supported streaming video site Popcornflix, the mobile opportunity is its chance to go from niche to mainstream.

“There are 600 million active iPhones, and 900 million Android accounts,” said Gary Delfiner, in an interview with TMC (News - Alert). “And we think that this is an underdeveloped market on a worldwide basis—there are actually very few high-profile movie streaming services available for Android tablets and phones. And when you think of the numbers—how do you not monetize on that?”

Find out how Popcornflix is programming its content to tap the mobile space.

DISH Network meanwhile is branching out beyond its residential base, introducing a flexible new satellite television platform aimed specifically at hotels and other hospitality operations—an area typically dominated by IPTV (News - Alert). This solution, dubbed SMARTbox, is capable of improving the in-room entertainment experience of hotel guests, while reducing total cost of ownership for owners.

Typically, hotel satellite solutions will just use a modified residential receiver. This often leads to issues because hotels face different challenges and usage scenarios than residential users.

“SMARTbox delivers a better overall free-to-guest operating experience for managers and a vastly improved end-user experience for guests,” said Robert Grosz, vice president of Commercial Sales at Dish. “Reducing installation, power consumption and management overhead are big wins in free-to-guest; having happier guests is even better.”

Read the solution overview for more information.

Moving on to the second-screen phenomenon of using a smartphone or tablet while watching TV, Comcast (News - Alert)-backed app-maker zeebox has bolstered its video discovery tools via a deal with Digitalsmiths that will support personalized search, social, mood and sports discovery, as well as make recommendations.  

The content discovery features can only serve to enhance the value proposition for zeebox, which faces steep competition from rival second-screen TV app providers. zeebox hopes to gain an edge by giving its customers the option to find out what the most popular shows are on TV, and check out what their friends, celebrities and the Twitterverse consider to be hot on TV. Users of zeebox also have the option to follow what shows their favorite celebrities are watching and get special access to watch exclusive content to top shows, as well as to buy any products they might offer during compatible shows. zeebox additionally allows broadcasters like NBCUniversal to offer synchronized polls, quizzes, trivia and other interactive widgets directly to fans.

The cable industry has been changing at a rapid pace over the last few years, but the one that that has barely changed at all is the on-screen guide. We have hundreds – even thousands – of channels, plus on-demand content, and personalization of all kinds. Why, then, is the guide trailing so far behind? Rich Steeves sat down with Jinni at The Cable Show in Washington, DC, which has decided to let the genie out of the bottle and wish for a new guide, complete with better content classification.

As smartphones enter their fourth and fifth generations of hardware, the install base is still made up of plenty of “legacy” smart devices, like the iPhone (News - Alert) 4 or first-generation Motorola Droid. That fragmentation poses a challenge for video content providers, who need to figure out a way to serve the insatiable need for video content when there are so many different devices out there with so many different requirements. This is where Deluxe Digital Distribution comes in. A cloud-based service, it processes and compresses files with high-quality encodes at better bitrates, freeing up bandwidth—but it also automatically formats the content appropriately for the device at hand.

Many of us remember the era of the black-and-white TV, moving the rabbit ears hither and yon to try to decrease the static and increase the picture quality. Cable TV was a momentous leap away from over-the-air (OTA) broadcasting. And that’s pretty much where things have stayed up until about the last 18 months, when multiscreen consumption of video and TV Everywhere has really started to take off.

NeuLion (News - Alert), a company that works to empower content owners to capitalize on this massive demand for interactive video content on various devices, is hosting a new installment of its Digital Dudes series for service providers looking to leverage TV Everywhere. The event will take place on Tuesday, July 2 at 1pm Eastern.

And finally, this week saw the news that Cgates, a cable TV provider in Lithuania, is proving that Eastern Europe is ripe for interactive TV services. Cgates will deploy the CubiTV hybrid middleware client and will also utilize a CubiTV portal server to support interactive services. The user Interface of the CubiTV client will be customized to meet the specific requirements of Cgates subscribers. It features an intuitive interface to allow subscribers to navigate advanced pay-TV functionality. It also includes a graphics rendering engine that delivers fast, sleek menus and program guides with high-quality animation, transitions and effects. STB versions of CubiTV can be deployed on both modern and legacy devices too, thereby minimizing the need for hardware replacement.

Have a great weekend!

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