Verizon FiOS TV subs in Portland, OR, are getting a little more out of this year’s Summer Games. The telco has launched its 1st EBIF trial in the city, teaming with Ensequence for an interactive Olympics application. The Portland test is significant for more than just Verizon, as it marks the 1st time an EBIF application has made its way to US consumers, according to Aslam Khader, Ensequence’s chief product officer. EBIF, or the Enhanced Television Binary Interchange Format, is a standard developed by CableLabs. Until tru2way is fully implemented in the cable industry, EBIF can be used to offer basic interactive applications on currently deployed/less advanced set-tops. While smaller EBIF trials have been underway with cable operators, the FiOS launch is the 1st to go out widely to consumers, explained Khader. "The implications are that all this work that has gone into EBIF over the last 3 years—starting with CableLabs working with various vendors like ourselves to put the standard in place and then the various MSOs taking the standard and beginning to implement it in their plant—this shows that it is real. EBIF can be used to do the kinds of things the standard was put in place to do," he said. The Ensequence Olympics app on FiOS is running on MSNBC and CNBC. It allow customers with a standard TV remote to access ITV features such as medal counts by country, bios for athletes, etc. DISH Network’s Olympic ITV app, also by Ensequence, is similar, but more comprehensive since DISH has a more advanced platform for interactive TV. According to Khader, NBCU has reserved the rights to share metrics from both the DISH and FiOS apps, but he described the stats as "record breaking." That would seem to fit with the impressive ratings the Summer Games are garnering for NBC. EBIF is an important standard for the cable industry because it will anchor the early interactive advertising applications for Project Canoe, the cable industry’s initiative to build a common advertising platform nationally. So given EBIF’s importance to cable, why is Verizon the first to launch a significant trial? "Our opinion is that they have an environment that is much more uniform," said Khader. "They don’t have as many 3rd parties involved as cable…not as much complexity. It’s simpler in some ways because they are a new operator." Cable ops are expected to be a major force behind EBIF as Canoe takes off early next year. "The speed of EBIF deployment is being dictated by the business imperative of Canoe," Khader said.

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