The payoff for cable’s transition to all-IP technologies is in the array of video options, new applications and better user experiences that providers and programmers can deliver. Here are some of the applications that are making their way to cable consumers.

Jump Ahead to:

TV EverywhereCloud User Interfaces (UIs)Cloud DVR, Cloud TV
Electronic Sell-Through (EST)Smart Home / Internet of Things (IoT) Big Data

TV Everywhere

CTAM defines TV Everywhere (TVE) as: “A multi-device viewing experience offered to verified TV service provider customers through websites and apps, at no additional cost, available with your subscription.” That includes all of the cable provider apps and network to-go versions that are giving consumers access to video on connected devices. TVE includes streaming of live linear TV, access to on-demand programs and additional features such as sneak previews and bonus content.

More than 100 cable provider and programmer TVE apps are available and they increasingly are offering live streaming both inside and outside the home. Among the technical solutions behind the TVE apps are: a content management system to store and manage video assets; a policy engine to manage content distribution rights and release windows; an authentication system to verify cable customers; DRM for security and content access; quality of experience (QoE) monitoring of video performance; and, where applicable, ad insertion and measurement systems.        

Find out more: CTAM TV Everywhere Industry Resource Center 

Cloud User Interfaces (UIs)

As cable providers establish an IP-based cloud network, they’re providing a better user experience (UX) with service-branded interactive program guides (IPGs) and navigation tools. The new cloud-enabled user interfaces (UIs) offer rich graphics and images using HTML5 software. The UIs offer seamless display of linear, on-demand and DVR content and provide easier content discovery and program recommendations. Depending on a cable provider’s preferences and business relationships, the cloud UIs provide a platform to offer Web applications, social media and OTT services. In addition, cable is re-imagining the traditional TV remote by exploring voice controls, touchpads and gestures to navigate through content.

For cable companies, a key benefit of cloud distribution is that changes in UI design and content can be made instantly across the company’s entire footprint, whereas changes in previous guides could take months if not years. Comcast, with its X1 entertainment operating system (and updated versions internally known as X2), and Time Warner Cable, which is deploying a cloud-based TWC TV guide, report that their new cloud platforms are supporting subscriber retention, churn reduction, increased VOD orders and higher customer satisfaction.

Find out more: The Making of X2: The Next Generation of Comcast's X1 Entertainment Operating System

Cloud DVR, Cloud TV

A big step toward delivering all video in IP formats is to launch cloud DVR (digital video recorder). All DVR functionality – recording, storage, fast-forward, rewind, etc. – is handled through the cable headend and no hard drive is required in the home set-top, as with traditional DVR set-tops. (“Network DVR” is similar to cloud DVR although that term usually implies that traditional MPEG2 cable programming is being used with VOD servers at the headend.)

Cloud TV takes the concept to the next level by distributing all linear TV in IP formats from the headend (which then has become a data center). For cable, cloud TV does not mean that cable providers are putting TV programming onto the open Internet; rather, they are distributing content their own “managed network” infrastructure – their own cloud.          

Electronic Sell-through (EST)

Along with their new cloud-based UIs, cable providers can offer Web-like video storefronts to sell movies, shows, games and other content. EST enables consumers to purchase their content, store it in their own “digital locker” in the cloud, and access it whenever they wish.

The concept mirrors what’s being done on iTunes, Amazon or with UltraViolet, but in this case a cable provider, movie studio or TV network would merchandise the content to consumers. The Digital Entertainment Group, an industry association, is advocating for the involved platforms, products and distribution channels on behalf of motion picture, music, consumer electronics and technology companies.

Find out more: Digital Entertainment Group

Electronic Sell-through Market Reaches $1 Billion

Smart Home / Internet of Things (IoT)

As cable expands its broadband capability, it’s offering home security and home automation services. That’s a step toward embracing the Internet of Things (IoT, also called Internet Everything) where all manner of home and business operations are automated through the cloud, some of which could be tied to video experiences. For example, you start a VOD movie and your lights dim for optimal viewing. Controls for thermostats, utilities and security cameras could become a part of cloud TV navigation systems.

The IoT trend opens new possibilities for education, government, healthcare, business and other institutions. Already some cable providers are using Gigabit fiber capability to link healthcare facilities and provide telemedicine services in-home for patients.     

Find out more: Infographic: The Growth of the Internet of Things

Big Data

Along with cloud-based services comes lots of talk about Big Data. Cable service providers and content providers are uniquely positioned to aggregate usage data anonymously to determine user preferences and monitor performance so they ensure a quality experience. While content always has been king in cable, it’s becoming apparent that now data is king.

New measurements and metrics also promise to help the industry to monetize its investments in new services through marketing and advertising. Efforts are underway to measure viewing across set-top boxes and Internet-connected devices; take advantage of programmatic technologies that are automating ad buying processes; and further extend ratings for time-shifted viewing. All of these developments are fueled by data.

Find out more: Media Universe: The Total Audience, by Nielsen

CTAM: Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing • 120 Waterfront Street, Suite 200 • National Harbor, MD 20745 
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