Comcast: MSOs Aiming For 25M EBIF Set-Tops This Year

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The six cable operators behind Canoe Ventures are aiming to enable as many as 25 million households this year with support for the Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format specification that will provide the foundation for cable's initial interactive TV advertising efforts, Comcast chief operating officer Steve Burke said.

Burke, responding to an analyst's question on the operator's earnings call Thursday, said Canoe is "making very good progress" and that the member MSOs could have as many as 25 million EBIF-enabled homes by the fourth quarter.

"Those homes are going to be Canoe-enabled homes and then there is going to be an entire business built on that," he said. Burke added that he expects Canoe to begin generating revenue in 2010.

Canoe -- backed by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks -- has said it's gearing up for a launch in the fourth quarter of ITV advertising service that would provide polling and request for information (RFI) services.

Earlier this summer, Canoe scrapped initial plans to offer zone-addressable advertising. That product, Community Addressable Messaging 1.0, would have been overlaid on top of the local ad-insertion infrastructure already in place among the six MSOs. However, Canoe concluded that the product would not have been attractive to advertisers and would have had several technical limitations.

In July, CableLabs issued a set of four specifications for managing advanced-advertising campaigns executed through Canoe across multiple operators.

Comcast, for its part, has been working with Atlanta-based consulting firm Itaas on the deployment. Itaas has licensed EBIF software developed by Comcast's TVWorks subsidiary and will in turn offer MSOs an EBIF deployment package based on the software that includes a license, deployment support and maintenance services.

Comcast also has been testing new interactive features built on EBIF in select Comcast markets that let customers access HSN's "Shop by Remote" service and request information.

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