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Time Warner Cable tests technology to hold viewers

Time Warner Cable is testing a new technology that could help television programmers corral audiences in an age when viewers have increasing control over what they watch, Reuters reported.

Time Warner Cable, a unit of Time Warner, is pitching an on-screen digital navigation tool that will let television networks point viewers to sister stations or to new services such as video-on-demand.

Using the new tool, viewers can click on a pull-down menu during live broadcasts to channel surf to any number of a particular network’s sister properties.

The technology would give programmers some measure of control over audiences, even as they have more choices.

VOD services and digital video recorders are seen as undercutting traditional linear programming schedules, which networks use to set advertising rates. Advertising-supported television continues to drive the bulk of programmers’ sales.

Time Warner’s new onscreen navigators are being tested in a small market in North Carolina. CNN, which is part of Time Warner’s corporate cousin, has already signed on for the test.

Time Warner is also set to test a new service, called Startover, that lets viewers who miss the first few minutes of a show, start from the beginning of the broadcasts.

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