OpenTV Signs Japan ITV Deal

OpenTV Corp. has inked a deal with Jupiter Telecommunications Co. Ltd. to jointly develop a two-way digital interactive-TV service. Terms of the pact, which was announced at the Western Show here last week, were not disclosed.

Jupiter is Japan's largest MSO, with 21 cable systems serving more than 1 million homes. It's jointly owned by Liberty Media Corp. and Microsoft Corp. ; the latter is represented on its board.

Under the deal, OpenTV and Jupiter will develop such advanced interactive-TV services as on-demand news, weather, online shopping, games, movies and other programming for Jupiter's network.

OpenTV will provide the operating middleware, interactive applications and support services.

"What we're doing is beyond integrating middleware," said OpenTV spokeswoman Helen Chung from the Western Show floor.

The project will launch sometime next year, although specifics haven't been determined, she added.

The company said the services will meet the requirements of the Association of Radio Industries and Businesses and the specifications set out by Japan's Broadcasting Markup Language standard for BS-type broadcasting.

The deal is the company's second with a Japanese company. In August, it announced that it and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. had completed a jointly developed Multimedia Home Platform extension.

The deal furthers OpenTV's goal of adding one new network operator per month. Jupiter marks the company's 11th addition this year. Chung would not say who the 12th will be. "That will be announced in December," she added.

In the United States, a delay in integrating with Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc.'s TV Guide Interactive IPG has held back OpenTV's first domestic cable deployment. The company has an agreement to deploy its ITV system on USA Media Group's Half Moon, Bay, Calif. system, but the system can't deploy OpenTV commercially until the integration is complete, according to USA Media chief operating officer Jim Faircloth.

Complicating matters further for OpenTV: AT&T Broadband recently signed a deal to acquire the 7,500-subscriber system, a deal that one source said will likely close by the end of the year.

Most of OpenTV's growth has come in Europe. Its technology is used by British Sky Broadcasting plc in the United Kingdom, NTL Inc. in Switzerland and France and by other cable and satellite platforms.