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ActiveVideo helps subscribers navigate VOD beyond the set-top box

Cloud-based, virtualized storage is penetrating the cable television industry in a big way, enabling multichannel operators to keep up with growing competition from Internet-based services while avoiding costly set-top box upgrades in order to give subscribers the freedom to access content they have purchased from any device. The capability is not yet available everywhere, but it’s coming.

ActiveVideo Networks has developed new capabilities for its cloud-based app platform, called CloudTV, that helps cable operators reduce churn while also offering subscribers the ability to watch video-on-demand (VOD) titles on one screen and then seamlessly move to another within a predetermined access window. The technology, which the company is showing at this week’s Cable Show in Chicago, leverages the Internet and remotely located “virtual” servers to provide such access to content on any device.

As part of the demonstration, ActiveVideo will show operators how they can use CloudTV to engage subscribers and drive “take rates” for on-demand services while carefully managing multistream bandwidth issues and ensure unfettered access to content.

“The growth of Web video viewing has increased industry awareness of the navigational difficulties that have limited the potential of VOD as a source of revenue for the cable industry,” said Jeff Miller, president and CEO of ActiveVideo Networks. “Moving the intelligence from the set-top box to the cloud better equips subscribers to find interesting content within the operators’ vast libraries, and allows operators to quickly deploy a consistent user interface across diverse set-top boxes and connected devices.”

Miller said CloudTV allows smart phones, tablets and standard remote controls to overcome the fragmentation and resource limitations of set-top boxes. In addition, using a CloudTV-powered interface, subscribers get access to an enhanced navigation environment of personalized browsing, search, discovery and recommendations from social network friends.

Already available on millions of screens, CloudTV leverages content stored and processed in the network cloud to significantly expand the reach and availability of Web-based user experiences. Navigation interfaces and other applications are delivered as a single, adaptable video stream to the set-top box, which simply passes keyclicks from standard remote controls, smart phones or tablets back through to the cloud with very low latency.

The CloudTV architecture offers the ability to run applications uniformly on any connected digital device, regardless of processing power; it eliminates the need for more expensive processing and storage capabilities in the end-user device; and a single-platform approach enables a wide array of content and applications to be written once and delivered to any STB. The cloud-based services also minimize software bugs by streaming — rather than downloading — content to the TV.

In addition, multichannel video providers can use CloudTV to bring new services and interactive applications to market faster as well as targeting customized user interfaces (and ads) to specific geographic areas.

For subscribers, placing the intelligence in the network, and not in the home, ensures availability of the widest diversity of applications on any set-top box.