On Demand Summit: Time Warner Cable Exec Talks Up IPTV Future

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Time Warner Cable's New York City system is doing a trial of "TV Everywhere" online viewing of premium content for authenticated subscribers and the cable operator is gearing up for an IPTV trial at the end of the year, the system's top engineering executive said at an industry conference Wednesday.

James Manchester, regional president of network operations and engineering in the company's New York City system, mentioned those events in the context of how TWC sees "the home of the future" developing. He spoke here June 9 at the On Demand Summit 2.0, organized by Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable.

He said TWC is moving toward a "big pipe" approach, delivering content to an edge device in the home, one with a hard drive and caching capabilities, that can link to computers, iPads, iPods, any device on which a subscriber wants to view content.

DOCSIS 3.0, cable's next generation broadband platform, enables that big pipe, he said.

On-demand content - or "non-linear" programming as he termed it - could comprise the majority of viewed programming over time, other than sports and other fare watched live, according to Manchester. Non-linear content is already a big part of TV viewing, whether it be from a DVR, video on demand, Apple TV or videos from Netflix or Redbox.

The TV Everywhere trial going on now in New York, with a small number of subscribers, involves premium content that can be viewed on the Web for authenticated customers, he said. Working out the authentication process is a major reason for the trial, he said.

An IPTV test would be in keeping with TWC's evolution of digital video distribution. The company was previously reported to be planning a test of Microsoft's Mediaroom IPTV software in the Los Angeles system. Manchester didn't spell out specifics of the planned IPTV trial.

He said cable's erosion of video subscribers, at a time when digital voice and broadband subscriptions continue to grow, makes it essential to move to more of an IPTV environment.

Right now, he said, customers that want robust international programming are using TWC cable modems plugged into IPTV devices to get Chinese language fare from KyLin TV. TWC would like to be able to make such programming services an extension of the TWC offering, he said.

Manchester made a point that TWC started testing VOIP in 1997 and didn't deploy it fully until 2004.

"It's no secret that we're losing video subscribers as an industry," he said. "We can't afford to wait."

Other developments he mentioned include a test in the Hudson Valley region of New York in which a video-on-demand channel is the default setting for the set-top box.

He also said an MSO-backed advanced advertising consortium - he didn't name it but it is Canoe Ventures - will launch an application that lets ad viewers order different samples of chewing gum.