TVN Entertainment Corp. gained some momentum last week when it signed a video-on-demand content-delivery deal with Charter Communications Inc.
Further building steam, it also landed Comcast Corp.'s full-scale VOD rollout in Philadelphia later this year.
Comcast, which already uses TVN's satellite delivery and asset management system in its more than 15 VOD rollouts, will now enlist TVN to handle more than 750 hours of programming in Philadelphia, primarily content from premium and basic networks, executives said.
TVN stands to add more Comcast systems — more specifically, AT&T Comcast Corp. systems — once the Philadelphia-based MSO's merger with AT&T Broadband deal is completed.
The deals give TVN an upper hand in the VOD content delivery space.
TVN also has pacts with Cablevision Systems Corp., Adelphia Communications Corp., Insight Communications Co. and Mediacom Communications Corp.
Time Warner Cable uses N2Broadband Inc., while Cox Communications Inc. has yet to announce a VOD content-delivery vendor.
Charter and Insight had used Diva Systems Corp. for tape-based VOD delivery. Both MSOs are now using TVN's Secure Satellite Transmission System, its Automated Digital On-Line Network Interactive Scheduling System (ADONISS) and its Affiliate Remote Interface (ARI).
"TVN is uniquely positioned to assist us in providing a full range of on-demand programming to our customers, allowing us to customize content on individual servers to better match system demographics and customer interests," said Charter vice president of programming and pay-per-view Patty McCaskill in a statement.
Charter has launched VOD in more than a dozen markets, and has recently signed deals with nCUBE Corp. and Concurrent Computer Corp. to supply VOD servers.
TVN senior vice president of business development Jim Riley said the company is currently deploying its docking stations and associated equipment in Charter markets, and hopes to complete the transition in August.
"We've done this conversion before," he said, most recently with Insight. It's largely a matter of getting rightsholder approval to convert content to TVN's system, and supplementing it where necessary, he said.
TVN will handle all of Charter's transport needs and will fill in content-licensing gaps where necessary, he said. For instance, Charter has VOD-licensing deals with basic and premium networks, while TVN is tied to most major Hollywood studios and various independent studios.
In Philadelphia, TVN will handle more than 750 hours of content for Comcast, mostly from pay-TV outlets and basic-cable networks, according to Riley. TVN announced a separate deal last week to package, transport and manage Scripps Networks' VOD programming. TVN will deploy docking stations in three locations to download content, then propagate it to SeaChange International Inc. servers.
Tracking the metadata for 750 hours of programming from perhaps 30 or more sources will be challenging.
"The more content that's introduced on the VOD platform the more complicated its gets," Riley said. "If content is king, complex asset management is queen."
The metadata, parceled out by ADONISS, tracks which VOD programming is authorized for which time periods in specific systems. The metadata also handles special promotions or advertising that may be sold or placed next to VOD programs, Riley said.
The metadata also ensures that content is placed in the correct categories for Comcast's free-on-demand service.
In other VOD news, TV Gateway LLC — the interactive programming guide — has completed an integration with Concurrent Computer Corp.'s VOD platform.
The updated TVGateway IPG, which sports improved graphics and added search features, can now ride on the Concurrent platform.
It has also been certified by Motorola Inc.'s Acadia Labs applications test bed.
Improvements to the TVGateway IPG include an expanded 72-hour program listing; on-screen index page and a page-caching addition to provide fast access to listings; and a surfing feature that lets users scan through the listings by specific time slots. It also adds a concert video service from Music Choice with improved pay-per-view ordering and schedules.
TV Gateway is a joint venture of MSOs Adelphia, Charter, Comcast, Cox and interactive TV provider WorldGate Communications Inc.
And N2 Broadband announced that it has completed integration work for its MediaPoint business management system with all three major billing suppliers — CSG Systems Inc., Convergys Corp. and DST Innovis Inc.
The company said MediaPoint allows operators to conduct real-time, two-way communications with their billing systems. The integration was based on the published Common Billing Interface, a component of the Interactive Services Architecture standard first developed by Time Warner Cable.
For its part, nCUBE Corp. is upgrading its nABLE media management system for VOD deployments. The new system provides marketing and reporting tools that provide data to program VOD lineups, as well as contract-management features to track content and ensure accurate royalty reporting and statistics.
nCUBE said the information that can be culled from the system can be used for data mining, statistical analysis and content-usage forecasts. The system is platform-independent, the company said.
For instance, the new system allows MSOs to manage rights on a regional basis, allowing content providers and aggregators more flexibility with programming. The system also can manage the technical system operations of the entire VOD platform, and not just nCUBE's server.