In an effort to help tier 2/3 cable operators create and deliver their own skinny TV bundles to OTT-powered TV-connected and mobile devices, Evolution Digital has launched eVUE-NOW!, a new, app-based platform that supports live TV feeds along with network DVR capabilities.
Colorado-based Evolution Digital said the app for eVUE-NOW!, to be branded by its MSO partners, will support iOS and Android mobile devices, as well as a variety of TV-connected retail platforms, including Roku players, Apple TV boxes and Android TV devices.
Evolution, said company president and CTO Brent Smith said, is also developing an Android TV-powered box that will carry the MSO’s brand, be leased by the operator, and auto-connect/default to the operator’s app when the device is turned on.
While cable operator partners are eager to support retail streaming platforms, some also want a leasable option that gives them more control of the device and the user experience, Smith said, adding that Evolution Digital’s Android TV box should be available by early 2018, if not sooner.
Smith said eVUE-NOW!, an offering that complements an IP-VOD service from Evolution Digital that’s being deployed by almost two dozen operators, enters play as operators ask for a way to more easily stand-up IP-delivered, multiscreen, slimmed down packages that can counter cord-cutting and compete with a growing mix of virtual MVPDs.
“Independent operators now have a way to more rapidly access and enter into the IP video marketplace,” Smith said. “This is our way to help the market find a solution and quickly defend themselves against the virtual MVPD providers.”
Being able to offer skinny TV packages tailored for broadband-first customers is becoming a priority for operators big and small. Of recent note, Comcast last week introduced a beta version of Xfinity Instant TV, a managed IPTV service, and the National Cable Television Cooperative has inked distribution deals with two vMVPDs – PlayStation Vue and fuboTV.
Smith said packages created with eVUE-NOW! will lean on the operator’s distribution rights with programmers.
The video recording component of eVUE-NOW! will initially offer an option for subscriber to store up to 20 programs per week. After a week, the system auto-replaces stored programs with the next available episode of a series or event, the company said.
Smith said Evolution’s storage platform uses a private copy model that is similar in many ways to the one pioneered by Cablevision Systems’ (now Altice USA’s) remote-storage DVR.
Under the initial model, the eVUE-NOW! platform, including components like encoding, transcoding, streaming and storage, will operate on the cable operator’s premises Smith said it could also be configured to run as a hosted solution that could be attractive to the smallest of the small cable operators, because they would not have to incur the on-premises costs.
Partners, he said, can integrate their own billing systems or use Evolution’s backoffice to tie in outside billing systems, including those that allow subscribers to pay and sign up with a credit card.
Smith said there’s some early stage testing underway with operators that can’t yet be named.
Several cable operators, including GCI, TDS Telecom, and WideOpenWest, are already working with Evolution to deliver IP VOD services.