Part of the challenge in bringing new and advanced cable products to market is the need for solid collaboration among the many involved constituents.

Let’s face it: Whether you work for a cable company, a content provider, or a technology supplier, chances are high that your viewpoint is relevant to the end product.

That’s why the CTAM On Demand Consortium (or ODC for short) opted this year to expand its work beyond "just" On Demand, to also include advanced advertising, interactive TV (meaning tru2way and EBIF), and cross-platform product

Bob Benya, svp, advanced video product management for Time Warner Cable and co-chair of the ODC, puts it this way:

"We live in a competitive world. The only way we can win is to collaborate with one another—not just MSO to MSO, but all of us—programmers, technology companies, researchers and suppliers. That’s why I choose to be so involved in the CTAM On Demand Consortium. No other work group tackles such a broad, but focused, set of product development issues."

Stacy Melle, vp, marketing, NBCU Digital Distribution and an ODC co-chair, became involved because video product development so regularly crosses between distribution and content.

"Working in the On Demand Consortium helps me keep my company focused on what’s really happening in next-generation content and advanced applications.

Plus, the work we’ve completed as a group this year is pretty spectacular."

Well, you be the judge. In 2008, the CTAM On Demand Consortium completed the following key initiatives:

* Completion of three in-depth consumer surveys, to better understand what everyday people are thinking about OD, tru2way applications, and cross-platform viewing (online, mobile and TV);

* Development of a white paper that analyzes and recommends an improved On Demand advanced advertising management ecosystem

* A survey of industry experts to explore and understand the technology and go-to-market complexities involved in launching an assortment of cross-platform applications, like remote DVR scheduling and portable video

* Socialization of the CableLabs 1.1 metadata specifications to identify inconsistencies in use across the industry. An On Demand user interface eye study to establish recommendations on how to improve VOD interfaces

…and that’s a partial list.

In addition, the ODC’s ongoing educational outreach was enhanced with two new projects.

At the 2008 Cable Show, the ODC initiated a series of topic-targeted, member-only technology tours; more than 60 members participated.

A series of webcasts on topics relevant to the expanded ODC work areas are in development and will punctuate the accomplishments this year.

The ODC met Sunday at the CTAM Summit in Boston, for its annual year-end review. Part of our focus is on earmarking key projects for 2009.

And just as "on-demand" has grown beyond its moniker, next year’s ODC objectives will strive to advance the sector—however it evolves.

(Angie Britt is vp, advanced products, CTAM)

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