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Cablevision Turns To Hong Kong Software Vendor For PC-To-TV Streaming

A Cablevision Systems service set to launch this month for streaming content -- including free television show episodes from Hulu.com -- from personal computers to TVs will use software from Hong Kong-based Split Media Labs.

Cablevision expects to launch Optimum Link to all subscribers by the end of March 2011. The operator's website for Optimum Link appears to indicate that it is currently available to Long Island subscribers; however, the service is not yet available to anyone except beta testers.

The service, initially compatible only with Windows PCs, will be available for an additional $4.95 per month to subscribers who take both Optimum Online and iO TV with the Family Cable tier or above.

Optimum Link can display Web pages, video, pictures, music or documents on a TV. However, according to Cablevision, the service cannot stream Blu-ray Discs, which are content protected, as well as other restricted DVDs.

Access to free-to-consumer Hulu.com content would be one attractive feature of Cablevision's service. In the past, Hulu has blocked software designed to stream its free video content to TVs and sells a premium subscription service, Hulu Plus, that provides access on broadband-connected TVs and other non-PC devices.

Hulu, a joint venture of Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and NBC Universal, did not respond to an inquiry about whether the company would try to block Cablevision's Optimum Link service. Cablevision is expected to contend that letting subscriber access public websites like Hulu.com on TV is covered under fair-use provisions of copyright laws.

To use Optimum Link, Cablevision subscribers must download and install the software on a PC running either Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP and the computer must be connected to a cable modem. The video and audio from the PC is then accessible to the subscriber through digital set-tops on channel 641.

Users must tune to channel 641 within 10 minutes to allow the PC to connect to the TV. The video and audio from the computer will play on the TV for 2 hours and 55 minutes, after which customers must confirm that they would like to continue streaming.

Last year, in announcing plans to test the technology, Cablevision said it plans to eventually release a Mac version of the streaming software.