TVN Entertainment Corp. hopes to fill the increasingly complex video-on-demand needs of cable operators through deals to provide delivery and asset-management products to three MSOs — one of which has just been completed.
The vendor has finalized a trial agreement with Comcast Corp. that covers VOD and subscription VOD transport content in 11 markets. The Philadelphia-based MSO will also use TVN's asset-management system.
And still-pending deals would bring TVN's "single-source" VOD content acquisition, delivery and asset management system to Insight Communications Co. and Mediacom Communications Corp. systems.
TVN — which already has an arrangement with Adelphia Communications Corp. — looks to be on solid ground in the VOD space.
"We've been building the tool set to make VOD and SVOD work" over the past two years, said TVN senior vice president of sales and development Jim Riley.
TVN is now operational in 25 systems, and Riley expects that figure to double in the next 45 days.
"We plan to offer comprehensive and diverse programming to our customers, and working with TVN is helping us achieve this goal," Comcast vice president of digital TV Mark Hess said in a statement.
TVN's VOD solution starts with content acquisition. The company has unspecified deals with Hollywood studios, but also licenses content from other providers. It recently signed a deal with Quicksilver, a teen-age clothing provider popular among the extreme-sports crowd.
All told, TVN transports 850 hours a month of content to the headends of its affiliates.
TVN also encodes the content, transports it via satellite to cable headends and provides increasingly sophisticated asset-management tools for VOD and SVOD operations.
"We handle all the asset management, from scheduling and transmission as well as the local server edge side, operate the satellite system, monitor the whole process and integrate with VOD servers," Riley said.
Riley said TVN complies with Cable Television Laboratories Inc.'s metadata standards. "We're compliant and go well beyond what's in the spec," he said.
The standards are designed to make it easier for operations to store, manipulate, promote and bill VOD or SVOD content.
"TVN allows the feature-rich set available on any server to be fully exploited," Riley said. "You can update pricing, dates, category, promos and special offers."
TVN's ADONISS software set "eliminates the need for headend personnel to manage content or metadata as its received in the cable environment," he said.
TVN said Comcast will have access to its affiliate remote interface (ARI), which will allow MSO technicians to view and manipulate assets anywhere using a Web-based interface. Comcast can make changes on a system-by-system basis and retrieve diagnostic and product usage data.
The latter attribute is key in on-demand storage going forward.
The system allows operators to determine which on-demand titles are selling successfully and which need to be replaced, on a system-by-system basis.
It also helps operators keep track of new content delivered each week. For instance, Home Box Office is refreshing 25 percent of its content each week, since subscribers demand constantly updated material.
The ADONISS tools allow MSOs to package and advertise different VOD or SVOD products, Riley said, even including advertising. As basic networks begin to provide on-demand content, ADONISS would allow an operator or content provider to automatically run promos before an on-demand program, or add an advertisement to the end of the show.
Comcast has deployed VOD to more than 3 million homes nationwide. TVN supplies transport in Alexandria and Arlington, Va.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Baltimore and Howard and Harford counties, Md.; Mobile, Ala.; Savannah, Ga.; Taylor and Southeast, Mich.; Indianapolis, and Charleston, S.C.
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