Comcast Media Center is taking the wraps off a Yellow Pages on TV interactive application for small and midsize operators, as part of its official commercial launch of the HITS Advanced Interactive Services suite.
HITS AxIS, which has been in beta-test period for about a year, delivers interactive TV applications based on CableLabs' Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) and tru2way platforms.
Now the service is ready to go live, according to the CMC, after testing by several cable MSOs, including Bend Broadband, Buckeye CableSystem, Metrocast Communications and Sunflower Broadband.
The field trials let CMC "test a variety of revenue-driven [interactive] TV applications over a wide range of cable system architectures," senior vice president and chief operating officer Gary Traver said. "Thanks to the technical and consumer knowledge we acquired during the trials, we are ready to support the rollout of ITV applications that can enhance the video experience for digital cable customers and net additional revenues for cable operators and their interactive content providers."
Among the HITS AxIS services now available is a Yellow Pages on TV EBIF-based app from FourthWall Media (formerly BIAP). The app offers a complete listing of local merchants available in a consumer's area at the push of a button on a digital cable television remote. Yellow Pages on TV is designed to let local cable operators generate new incremental advertising revenue, and it also allows merchants to integrate video advertising with their listings.
As part of the agreement with FourthWall, HITS AxIS will handle all of the distribution and launch management required to make Yellow Pages on TV operational.
Traver said applications like Yellow Pages on TV "have shown tremendous potential in their ability to drive interactive television revenue." In CMC's initial testing, 56% of homes with access to Yellow Pages on TV used it at least once, and a quarter of those were repeat users. Moreover, 15% of users clicked through to get business details from specific merchants.
HITS AxIS also is engaged with more than 20 ITV developers -- including "T-commerce" provider icueTV -- which are using one or more of its product development services that encompass business modeling, licensing and application testing.
For cable operators, deployment services available with HITS AxIS include configuration, hosting, affiliate sales, contract management and product launches. HITS AxIS also provides MSO customers application and network monitoring, updates and upgrade management, billing services and customer support, training and disaster-recovery services.
The HITS AxIS products use the Comcast-owned TVWorks ETV platform and S&T's Broadcaster 2 object carousel playout servers for delivering applications.