Chiddix Sees Potential in Open TV


OpenTV Corp. is hoping Time Warner Cable veteran Jim Chiddix will help end years of struggling for U.S. distribution and drive sales of ITV applications to cable operators.

The Liberty Media Corp.-backed firm last week named Chiddix, who most recently ran Time Warner’s MystroTV unit, as OpenTV’s executive chairman.

He essentially replaces Peter Boylan, who resigned as OpenTV chairman in December — a week before the Securities and Exchange Commission sued him for securities fraud for alleged activities at Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc.

OpenTV director Michael Zeisser has served as interim chairman since then.

Chiddix last week said News Corp.’s acquisition of DirecTV Inc. bodes well for OpenTV. News Corp. has pushed ITV on its British Sky Broadcasting satellite service in the United Kingdom, and he expects U.S. operators to expand ITV to blunt possible moves by DirecTV.

“It’s never going to go back to being the nice tranquil business it was at one point between EchoStar and DirecTV and the cable operators. There’s going to be fierce competition, and that’s going to drive innovation,” Chiddix said.

OpenTV’s largest U.S. customer is EchoStar: 7 million subscribers have set-tops that run OpenTV middleware.

Dish Network recently launched OpenTV’s PlayJam gaming service, at $4.99 per month.

Charter Communications Inc. offers OpenTV’s Wink interactive overlays to commercials and cable programming to 1 million subscribers. But DirecTV dropped Wink in December, costing OpenTV 10.4 million customers.

Going forward, OpenTV will pitch applications involving customer care, interactive advertising, games and consumer research, Chiddix said.

He also said: “One of the really intriguing things about Mystro was the work we did toward targeted advertising, and that’s an area where I think OpenTV brings a lot to the party.”

Chiddix and his wife will be selling a home in New York and looking for one in San Francisco, where OpenTV is based.