Debates Are MSO Technology Platform

Cable operators are using coverage of the presidential debates to trot out new technology, from offering subscribers on-demand viewing of the debates to letting customers use interactive-TV technology to vote on who they think won.

C-SPAN supplied several cable operators with the first presidential debate Sept. 30 and this past Tuesday’s vice-presidential debate, and it will do the same for Friday’s second presidential debate and the final presidential debate Oct. 13.

Operators offering the debate through on-demand platforms include Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications Inc., Cablevision Systems Corp., Cox Communications Inc., Bright House Networks, Mediacom Communications Corp., Bresnan Communications, Block Communications Inc., Patriot Media & Communications and several smaller operators.

“We’re very pleased with the response we’ve gotten from the affiliates in wanting to use the technology to deliver a public service,” C-SPAN director of affiliate relations Peter Kiley said Friday.

Cablevision and some other operators plan to keep all four debates stored on on-demand servers through the November elections, while others will keep each debate on their systems for two weeks after the debate, Kiley added.

C-SPAN is also supplying the debates to MobiTV customers, who can view the video on their cellular phones.

In Phoenix, Cox said it is using interactive polling technology to ask viewers to vote on questions throughout the debate. Subscribers will be able to click the “A,” “B” or “C” button on their remote controls to submit their opinions on the performance of President Bush and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), his challenger.

Cox is teaming up with the CBS affiliate in Phoenix on the project, and the station will include results from the poll in a post-debate show.