S-A Signs Metabyte for PVR


Set-top maker Scientific-Atlanta Inc. is licensing personal video recording software from Metabyte Networks Inc. for its advanced digital boxes.

Although targeted for S-A's "Explorer 8000" series, Metabyte's software can also run on the company's already deployed "Explorer 2000" boxes.

S-A is licensing Metabyte's Preference Determination Engine and Intelligent Storage Management software.

"The PDE helps you find what you want to watch," said Bob Van Orden, vice president of product strategy in S-A's subscriber networks division.

The software tracks the shows viewers watch, then provides them with information on similar available programming.

"It's not only for PVR functions," Van Orden said. "It can be used for regular TV programming."

The software can be used with various content segments inside advanced set-tops. "It can be used for PPV and VOD and what preferences consumers want," Van Orden said.

Metabyte's MbTV technology also allows operators to offer targeted advertising, electronic commerce and TV-portal services. And the software allows viewers to be segmented for targeted promotions.

Two different consumers who record and watch Friends
might see a separate set of commercials upon playback, depending on which consumer segment they belong to, Van Orden said.

The 8000 box will use Vision Tech MPEG (Moving Picture Expert Group) encoding, as well as hard-drive technology from Western Digital. S-A has also licensed software from Keen Personal Media for the 8000 that is incorporated into the Power TV operating system, Van Orden said.

"The Metabyte software is at a higher level and sits above Keen and the Power TV operating system in the stack," Van Orden said.

Metabyte executives said the company designed its software to be interoperable from day one.

"We are fully portable across any middleware system," said Metabyte chief executive officer Manu Mehta. "It takes us eight to 12 weeks to integrate into other systems."

Although set-top hard drives give consumers greater control, Mehta believes targeted advertising is the key to generating revenue from PVR technology.

"The revenue streams are all driven by targeting," Mehta said. Metabyte is in discussions with advertisers to use the targeted technology for enhanced ad sales, for instance.

For Metabyte, the S-A is deal is a major breakthrough. "This is the first major deal for us in the U.S. market," Mehta said. The company also is with working with Encore Media Group.

Van Orden said Metabyte's software could be downloaded for use in the Explorer 2000, where it could be used to guide viewer preferences.

"It increases the value of our product," he said. "Personal TV is an important category for us in cable."