Cox Bails on Interactive TV Venture With Comcast

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Cox has checked out of TVWorks, the interactive television joint venture the MSO set up with Comcast about four years ago, Cable Digital News reports.

The move was prompted by the fact that the “priorities of Comcast and Cox never quite synched up,” according to CDN’s Jeff Baumgartner.

What a shocker! (I’m being facetious.)

What seems to have been the straw on the camel’s back: Cox, as part of launching its new interactive program guide being developed with NDS, grew impatient with the schedule TVWorks set to port the MSO’s suite of ITV apps to tru2way. (See Cox Gasses Up Next-Generation Guide.) Instead, Cox enlisted NDS to do that task, which Cox’s Lisa Pickelsimer said would make the integration with the IPG “more seamless.”

To me, this actually signals that cable’s interactive TV ambitions are becoming very real (see Interactive TV Begins to Bloom) — and as such, Cox has a need to control its own ITV destiny.

TVWorks has about 300 dedicated employees, according to CDN, with offices in Mill Valley, Calif.; and London, Ontario, Canada. It will continue as a wholly owned Comcast subsidiary.

There’s a bit of convoluted history with TVWorks.

In April 2005, TVWorks acquired substantially all of Liberate Technologies’ North American assets. Prior to that, in 2002, OpenTV had sued Liberate claiming that Liberate infringed two ITV patents. Under an agreement reached in late 2007 between OpenTV and TVWorks, OpenTV agreed to “release TVWorks from past liability it acquired from Liberate,” and TVWorks paid $1.5 million to OpenTV.

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