TWC Tucks Set-Top UI Into The Cloud

Bringing a richer and more agile interface to a portion of its base of legacy set-top boxes, Time Warner Cable said Thursday that it has begun to roll out a cloud-based navigation platform that features a new VOD portal, improved search functions, and a  16x9 aspect ratio that's optimized for widescreen TVs.

TWC said the new UI is now in front of more than 2 million set-tops, and will be available to north of 6 million boxes by the end of 2014. TWC ended the third quarter of 2013 with 11.72 million residential video subscribers.

A TWC spokeswoman said the initial deployment covers systems throughout the northeast, including New York City and the Carolinas. She said the deployment is limited to Samsung, Cisco and Arris-made box models that use the DOCSIS Set-Top Gateway. The DSG is a CableLabs-specified data pipeline that relies on an integrated DOCSIS modem and offers much faster delivery than legacy communications paths used by older digital cable boxes.

Among new features, the cloud-based UI offers simplified title searches and a “What’s Hot” category that shows popular titles, and a spruced up DVR Manager.

"We’ve received great feedback on our new cloud-based guide features and are excited to deliver an even better television experience for our customers,” said Rob Marcus, TWC’s president and COO, in a statement. “We’re investing in improving our video service, making it even easier for our customers to enjoy all of their video choices.”

TWC is booting up its new UI as it and other cable operators look for ways to stem ongoing losses of video customers. Of recent note,  TWC lost 306,000 video subs in the third quarter, a loss that was exacerbated by the MSO’s retrans spat with CBS.

Word of the expanding set-top UI refresh also comes a day after TWC unified many of the features delivered via its cloud-based TV Everywhere apps for Roku boxes, Xbox 360 consoles, PC browsers, newer model Samsung Smart TVs, iOS and Android devices, and select Amazon Fire tablets.