Cable Nets Eye Content Stores

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Las Vegas— Although the National Association of Broadcasters' convention is largely a venue in which TV producers and broadcasters craft deals, a handful of cable networks used the opportunity to plunge further into broadband-content creation through some streaming, asset-management and archival pacts.

Cable News Network announced a $20 million multiyear project with IBM and Sony Corp. to create a digital-video content library, which will be used for internal purposes and marketed externally to consumers with broadband connections. It's the first step to create a digital warehouse for users of CNN's content.

"The resulting system will reduce operational costs and provide greater opportunities to increase revenue by leveraging our digital assets across multiple platforms," CNN senior vice president of strategic digital systems research and development Gordon Castle said in a statement. The news net plans to digitize, catalog and store more than 120,000 hours of archival material.

Although FoxSports.com announced a pullback of its online efforts earlier this year, the company sealed a deal with iVAST Inc. for the company's MPEG-4 software, which will bring new interactive functionality to the Web site.

FoxSports.com vice president of production and development Adam Bain said the deal will help Fox Sports promote its TV programming and drive broadband-Internet revenue opportunities. Executives at iVAST believe the company's technology can provide interactive experiences in which consumers would pay for content related to their favorite team or player.

At NAB, Universal Music Group ported its TVL Viewing Lounge Web-based broadband programming over to an interactive set-top box using a software application from sister company Canal Plus U.S. Technologies.

UMG's TVL has been running on Excite@Home Corp.'s data-over-cable service, as well as several other broadband Internet-service providers, since last fall.

"We believe this is the first time a music program originally designed for broadband online use has been ported to an interactive-television platform," said Canal Plus U.S. vice president of marketing Arthur Orduna. The application is built on Java programming language and ported to Canal Plus's middleware.

Discovery Communications Inc. said it would buy the TEAMS digital asset-management system from Artesia Technologies. TEAMS allows remote production crews working on various Discovery projects to share content via the Web.

The same software and applications will be used by Discovery to create a central, digitized library that will include video footage, audio recordings and graphics that other producers and marketers can tap into for future projects.

In other broadband-content news, Yahoo! Inc. announced it would increase the amount of entertainment and information content on its portal after signing deals with ABCNews.com, CourtTV.com, AdventureTV.com and ClassicMovies.com.

Court TV will also participate with Aerocast in a streaming video trial. Residential cable-modem subscribers will be able to watch Court TV's Riker's Island: Tales from Jail
and The Death Penalty Show II
on-demand in an unspecified market.

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