Liberty Puerto Rico, a unit of Liberty Global that serves about 250,000 subscribers, is putting a new twist on the cloud-based interface in the form of a “Social Content Navigator” that presents a slate of live TV channels based on their popularity using near real-time viewership data.
The UI, which the operator is running on ActiveVideo’s CloudTV platform, presents up to eight of the most popular eight channels at once in mosaic form using viewership data that is collected and tabulated every five minutes. As that data is collected, the platform renders the UI in the proverbial cloud and stitches it into the MPEG video stream, meaning it can run on the operator's full base of deployed QAM-only boxes.
In this case, operator and ActiveVideo have built it to run on its systems based on both the Cisco Systems and Arris/Motorola platform, and on some boxes that have been in the field for several years, some as long as a decade.
The operator has been testing the UI for about three weeks and currently has it in front of about 100 friendlies. Under the phased deployment plan, the intension is to roll it out to more homes in the coming months and have it available to the MSO’s entire base by the end of the year, Waldo Hooker, Liberty Puerto Rico’s vice president of product and strategy, said.
The way the system is designed, users can scroll through additional pages that present mosaic views of the next eight most popular shows, again based on viewership data, all the way through to the end of Liberty Puerto Rico’s full live TV lineup of more than 300 channels.
In addition to presenting a broad view of the most viewed channels, the operator and ActiveVideo have built the UI to present more personalized, trending mosaics based on specific genres, including family-friendly programming. The UI can also be set up to show only the most popular channels available in HD.
A key aim is to help customers get more value out of the lineup and help them find channels that they might not normally view. “We want customers to go outside of their comfort zone,” Hooker said.
And the operator believes the new UI will give it a differentiator to wield against competitors in the market, which include DirecTV, Dish Network.
While the system will allow Liberty Puerto Rico to deliver this fancy UI across its full subscriber base, it does cost some bandwidth. In fact, the operator has nailed up dedicated QAM capacity just for the UI app. “We are measuring the concurrency and use very carefully to make sure the experience is as good as possible,” Hooker said.
The Social Content Navigator is Liberty Puerto Rico’s first application on the ActiveVideo platform. The MSO might also use it for video-on-demand apps and perhaps a “full guide” sometime later, Hooker said.
And expect more tie-ins between the vendor and Liberty Global, which operates extensively in Europe. Last fall, Liberty Global announced it would use ActiveVideo’s CloudTV product to deliver its Horizon user interface to set-tops and other types of connected devices.
ActiveVideo is also working with Ziggo of the Netherlands (Liberty Global is in the process of buying the remaining interest in the Dutch MSO), Cablevision Systems, Time Warner Cable, Deutsche Telekom and Charter Communications, among others. Comcast has trialed ActiveVideo for a VOD interface but hasn’t announced a broader relationship.