Cable Operators

Showtime Sees Interactive-TV Lift

10/10/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

New York — Showtime Networks’
interactive TV app —
which lets subscribers order the
premium network with one click
of the remote — won an audience
vote as the best out of a field
of five contenders in the “iTV
Idol: Groundbreaking Applications”
session at CTAM in New
York.

More than 30% of orders to Showtime
now come through the ITV app
in markets where it has launched
David Preisman, Showtime’s vice president
of interactive television, said. He added that
those subscribers have identical churn rates
to subs acquired through traditional call-center
ordering.

“Once it’s launched, there’s money coming
in every day,” Preisman said.

Showtime’s app is live with four affiliates
— Cablevision Systems, Dish Network, Oceanic
Time Warner Cable in Hawaii and Verizon
FiOS TV — with additional partners in
the pipeline. Th e app is available on four different
ITV platforms: CableLabs’ Enhanced
TV Binary Interchange Format, ActiveVideo
Networks, OpenTV and Lua, an open scripting
language used by FiOS TV. Interactive-
TV developer Itaas created the EBIF version
of the app for Showtime.

In addition to ordering Showtime, the app
lets viewers sample full episodes and other
content. “The idea is really to improve the
way people buy premium channels,” Preisman
said in his presentation. “Today, you
have to call up, navigate a phone menu and
talk to a customer rep — it shouldn’t be like
that in 2011.”

Most frequently, when you tune to Showtime
channels as a nonsubscriber, “you get
a blue screen with an error message on it,”
he added.

The 100-some audience members awarded
second place to a multifunction app
developed for WE tv, Fuse and MSG by Ensequence,
which can provide quizzes, polls,
tune-to channel and social-media integration,
among other features.

The other three entrants were: Itaas’s tablet
computer app that lets users to discover
and tune to content, create playlists and
set reminders for upcoming content; an app
from The Weather Channel, developed with
Nielsen MediaSync, that uses audio watermarks
in the show to unlock synchronized
content for original series From the Edge;
and Intrasonics’ app for smartphones and
tablets that lets users engage with TV shows
and ads.

The “iTV Idol” competition was co-sponsored
by Canoe Ventures and the Cable &
Telecommunication Association for Marketing.

March