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Comcast Kicks Tires On ActiveVideo's Web-Based VOD Interface

Comcast is testing ActiveVideo Networks' CloudTV H5 platform with a trial in Chattanooga, Tenn., that serves up an enhanced HTML5-based user interface for video-on-demand.

The "cloud-based" user interface provides a graphically rich way for Xfinity On Demand customers to search and discover VOD content, according to the companies.

The Comcast trial started earlier this year with employees and "friendlies," according to spokeswoman Jenni Moyer. Comcast has licensed ActiveVideo's CloudTV H5 platform but has not determined whether it will commercially deploy the solution.

The project with ActiveVideo is separate from Comcast's X1 guide, which provides an overhauled, Web-like interface, personalization features, enhanced content and apps. The MSO last month said X1 was launching commercially in Boston, to be followed by other major markets.

"Our goal is simple: to help Comcast make it easier for customers to search and discover new content from their vast on-demand library," ActiveVideo CEO Jeff Miller said. "Leveraging CloudTV's enterprise-class performance, we can offer providers like Comcast new, rich experiences from the cloud, as well as a consistent look and feel that can be delivered to any set-top box."

ActiveVideo's CloudTV H5 platform uses HTML5 browser technology running on network-based servers to render the user interface in the cloud, which is then streamed to a user's device. The system can deliver a uniform UI to any digital set-top box or connected device, such as a tablet, according to the company.

In Comcast's Chattanooga test, the VOD interface is available only on set-top boxes.

San Jose, Calif.-based ActiveVideo said CloudTV is deployed to approximately 10 million screens in the U.S. and internationally with Cablevision Systems, Oceanic Time Warner Cable and other operators, as well as on Philips-brand NetTVs.

Earlier this year, ActiveVideo announced a licensing deal with Cisco Systems for the CloudTV platform. Cisco is reselling the software as Voyager Virtual to deliver IP video and new user interfaces to legacy MPEG-2 set-top boxes.

Separately, ActiveVideo is awaiting the outcome of its patent-infringement lawsuit against Verizon Communications. A federal jury found the telco infringed four of ActiveVideo's patents and Verizon was ordered to pay at least $139 million in damages; Verizon has an appeal pending before the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.