Cupertino, Calif. -- PowerTV Inc. announced a deal last
week with Canadian MSO Vidéotron Ltée, a unit of Le Groupe Vidéotron Ltée, to license
PowerTV's set-top software to serve its more than 1.5 million subscribers.
The multiyear licensing agreement calls for Vidéotron to
use PowerTV's operating system and applications-enabling middleware to offer the
"SofaSOFT" suite of Web-based enhanced-television applications.
The deal is big for PowerTV because it calls for a fully
integrated launch of its applications, starting with "SofaMAIL" e-mail,
"SofaSURF" Web browsing, "SofaNEWS" interactive news-on-demand and
Because of the nature of the customer base in Quebec, the
applications will be offered in French and English.
"As we planned our launch of interactive services for
digital-cable television, PowerTV quickly rose to the top due to their vision and
innovation in this industry, combined with their core strengths, focus and knowledge of
the solid business fundamentals required to make the dream a reality," Vidéotron
vice president of new product implementation Michele Giroux said in a news release.
Privately owned PowerTV -- headed by former
Scientific-Atlanta Inc. marketing executive Steve Necessary as CEO -- has its digital
interactive-television software embedded in more than 1.3 million units shipped to cable
operators so far.
Vidéotron -- which cut a deal earlier this month to sell
out to Canada's largest MSO, Rogers Communications Inc. -- has been a pioneer in
interactive-TV deployment. Its "Videoway," launched 10 years ago, was the
first-ever successful attempt by any North American cable operator to provide interactive
TV to large numbers of consumers.
Services on that Vidéotron platform include video games;
television guides; TV commerce; regional and national news and weather; and multiple
camera angles for sports broadcasts. The PowerTV-enabled new services will soon be made
available to the more than 300,000 Videoway subscribers.
Vidéotron will use S-A's "Explorer 2000" family
of digital set-tops and navigator. PowerTV's set-top operating system and HTML (HyperText
Markup Language) middleware run these advanced digital interactive devices, with
"PersonalJava" functionality as an option.
Adding PowerTV's SofaSOFT applications forms a complete
system of seamlessly integrated interactive programming.
PowerTV chief operating officer Bow Rodgers said in the
release: "We are proud to announce our strategic partnership with one of the most
innovative cable operators in North America. Vidéotron has recognized PowerTV as the
leader in interactive two-way digital-cable software, and by adopting our platform,
Vidéotron can truly deliver digital interactive enhanced television to its
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