For Vibha Rustagi, services like ITV and VOD are like a series of doors: They provide ways into the cable business for people of color, and ways to reach out to cable’s diverse customers. The 38-year-old native of New Delhi, India, runs Itaas, an ITV software and service vendor based in Atlanta. She launched the firm with two other employees in 1999, and now oversees 20 employees, most of whom are people of color. More than 25 companies, including Buzztime Entertainment, Gotuit Media, Biap Systems, ESPN, Hollywood Media and GoldPocket Interactive, are using Itaas’ istart interactive application development program (offered in association with Scientific-Atlanta) to test ITV or VOD services before taking them to cable operators. Itaas offers minority-owned ITV developers that can’t afford affiliation with istart lower-cost tools with which they can hone applications, including a head-end test lab using both S-A and Motorola equipment. On its own, Itaas is about to make house calls to MSOs with a collection of games picked up from S-A a few months ago. This will be the year that ITV breaks into the mainstream, thanks to competition from DBS and newfound MSO enthusiasm for such applications, says Rustagi, who adds that ITV services can be marketed directly to people of color. The best way to get people of color to use ITV is to customize content for them. "People of color want a choice of services," she says. "Target the applications and provide people with a rationale to buy and use ITV." Rustagi also hopes to expand marketing of a VOD data collection system developed at Itaas and used by Time Warner Cable and Cox systems in the Southeast. The software format aggregates and breaks down VOD usage by demographics and other categories.

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