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Stirring the Media Mix

As the cable industry moves toward joining applications across its various service-delivery platforms, software will be needed to make things run smoothly.

Cauldron Solutions, which has built a name for itself as a provider of content-management software for video on demand, believes its new Entitlement Manager and Entitlement Engine will aid operators with cross-platform applications.

For instance, an MSO might want to allow a Home Box Office and HBO On Demand subscriber to access premium portions of HBO’s Web site for broadband content. Or, a subscriber watching a theatrical movie trailer on VOD could be linked to a site to buy a theater ticket for that film.

Cauldron’s new software allows operators to offer those services, said the company’s chief technology officer, Bhavan Shah.

The vendor’s current media-management and transaction-management software is being used by Rainbow Media Holdings for VOD programming and by Cox Communications Inc. for VOD advertising.

Media management is a VOD-workflow system that allows programmers to place metadata on content and package it for VOD servers.

“We make sure all the proper work flow happens,” Shah said, so subscribers, for instance, get the right content at the right time.

A second element of the media-management system allows MSOs to define products and offers, such as a subscription-VOD ordering tier.

A side piece to media management is Cauldon’s transaction-management system. That software includes an entitlement engine, which defines the content any particular customer is authorized to view; a transaction engine, to facilitate billing to credit cards, debit cards or the billing system; and a subscriber-management system, which helps MSOs determine the status of subscribers.

Building on that software, Cauldron has released Entitlement Manager and Entitlement Engine, which can support applications like sending users to a Web site to order a music video or movie.

“The Entitlement Engine is a software piece that sits between the front-end system and back-end system,” said N. Dennis Manu, vice president of product development at Cauldron. “A request comes in and we get information from the back end.”

The new software will help MSOs deploy bundled services, like the HBO example cited above, Shah said. “You could order broadband services from your TV,” he added, as subscribers to Cablevision System Corp.’s iO: Interactive Optimum service do today.

“Operators need to bundle and go across applications,” he said.

Manu said operators could even tie in Voice-over-Internet protocol, providing various quality-of-service levels depending on their subscription status.

Last week, Cauldron added former Cablevision and Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. executive Daniel Sweeney to its ranks.

Sweeney, who had most recently been senior vice president of Buzztime Inc., joins Cauldron as senior vice president of sales and marketing. He’ll be responsible for all global sales and marketing initiatives.