Denver -- Imedia Corp. is hoping to again make a big splash
at the Western Show next week.
This time, though, it's with what it calls its
"flagship product" -- the "CherryPicker," a device that lets operators
customize the digital channels that they offer to their customers.
During a recent press tour, Imedia executives said the
CherryPicker is "shipping," adding that eight domestic operators and one
European operator are already onboard for beta-tests.
Two years ago, Imedia was the star of the technology-heavy
Western Show, after it was "discovered" by Tele-Communications Inc. chairman and
CEO John Malone. That meeting went from greeting to deal in three days, but it backfired
last year, when Imedia opted to sue TCI for breach of contract.
The matter is still unresolved, and it is not something
that Imedia wants to focus on next week, said Rochelle Schiffman, vice president of
communications for the San Francisco-based company.
Small and large MSOs -- particularly those affiliated with
TCI's Headend in the Sky digital service -- are clamoring for a technique that will allow
them to repackage the chunks of digitally compressed channels that they now pass along
unchanged to digital customers. Because of the nature of existing technology, the channels
are received at the cable headend and passed straight through to set-tops, without
With the CherryPicker, operators can mix and match the
channels that they want, as well as inserting digital advertisements, said Adam Tom, vice
president of business development for Imedia.
Plus, chip consolidation is helping to keep costs in line,
Tom said, adding, "We've done a lot of hardware integration."
He declined to discuss specifics, but he described the
CherryPicker as the hub in the digital-broadcast chain.
"We think that the costs will be reasonable for what
[MSOs] will be getting," Tom said.
So far, Imedia is keeping the eight North American
beta-sites quiet. In Europe, however, the company is busily fulfilling a purchase order
placed by Swiss cable operator Cablecom for a deployment in Zurich, Switzerland.
Thomas Mühlethaler, director of corporate technology for
CableCom, said he picked Imedia because it will "solve many of [our] digital
challenges by giving us the ability to break apart incoming statistical multiplexes of
programming matched specifically to our regional customer profiles."
Mühlethaler said the technique opens up "huge
potential" for operators to maximize their digital program offerings, while
optimizing bandwidth efficiency and bit-rate compression.