Cable-Tec Expo: EchoStar Assembling Over-The-Top Video Suite

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EchoStar Technologies is working up a hosted video service for operators with four core elements -- linear TV, video-on-demand, network-based DVR and multiscreen video -- all served up over the Internet.

"We saw the next logical progression as a move to a service-based system with the pitch being, if you have a pipe -- cable, fiber or DSL -- and you want to provide a video service along with a data service, we'll do that from the cloud," said Mike Hawkey, EchoStar's vice president of sales and marketing.

EchoStar will detail the enhanced over-the-top solutions privately for prospective customers at SCTE's Cable-Tec Expo in Atlanta this week, according to Hawkey.

The cornerstone of the new services -- which are still about six months from being launched -- is the adaptive bit-rate video technology from Move Networks, Hawkey said. EchoStar acquired the assets of Move Networks earlier this year for $45 million.

EchoStar will deliver the services from its facility in Cheyenne, Wyo., and distribute them through content distribution networks to cable or telco customers. Hawkey didn't say which linear TV networks are in the mix but said there's no technical limit on the number of channels EchoStar could offer. Using the adaptive bit-rate Move Networks technology, the company can deliver a TV Everywhere-style service for tablets, smartphones, PCs, connected TVs and game consoles, he said.

The network DVR implementation, Hawkey added, will be consistent with the way Cablevision Systems has rolled out its DVR Plus service (also called the Remote Storage DVR) by providing discrete physical storage for each individual subscribers. That detail was a key reason Cablevision prevailed in a copyright-violation lawsuit filed by programmers and studios, allowing the MSO to successfully argue that its RS-DVR was no different from a conventional in-home DVR.

Meanwhile, also at Cable-Tec Expo this week, EchoStar will show a full production version of the Aria system, an offering for small and midsize cable operators that includes an HD DVR, Slingbox place-shifting features, and a hosted interactive program guide and VOD service. "People can play with the guide to see the responsiveness," Hawkey said.

The company expects its first cable customers to go live with Aria this quarter. EchoStar hasn't identified any customers for Aria but previously said a "major mid-tier operator" was kicking the tires on it.

On the VOD side, EchoStar will provide transactional titles from Blockbuster -- now owned by Dish Network -- that operators can to offer to their subscribers. On the subscription VOD front, EchoStar will deliver content based on the deals the MSO has negotiated with networks.

Hawkey said EchoStar has tested the Aria set-tops heavily with both Motorola and Cisco Systems' CableCards, and has undertaken preliminary testing with an Nagra-based CableCard.

EchoStar isn't disclosing pricing details of Aria. In addition to an up-front cost for the set-tops, operators pay a monthly service fee for Slingbox features, the guide server, TV listings and software maintenance.