Two announcements made at the Cable Show this week have the potential to increase the number of deployed Enhanced Binary Interchange Format (EBIF)-enabled set-top boxes by millions – good news for interactive applications and ventures like Canoe.
For starters, later this year, Comcast will trial a newly ported EBIF user agent in its Cisco footprint. It is similar to the TVWorks one Comcast already has deployed in 20 million Motorola set-top boxes, but was re-engineered by itaas, for the Cisco platform.
“This is a major step forward…Having this available for Comcast increases the numbers by millions of set-tops,” said Jim Elayan, VP of marketing, itaas.
In separate, yet connected, news, Charter Communications will license the TVWorks ETV platform, including the user agent for its Motorola set-top boxes. itaas will assist with the deployment.
“Comcast’s was big news for the fact that the TVWorks user agent will be available for anyone with a Cisco, TV Guide combination. The second news is that one of the major MSOs is moving forward with licensing and deployment…This is the first manifestation in the market,” Elayan said.
Regarding the 20 million Motorola set-tops, Comcast already has a small number of advertising applications, Comcast EVP and CTO Tony Werner said during a panel Tuesday at the Cable Show. For example, a customer might see a 30 second spot for a television program and receive a prompt to record it or the whole series.
Fellow panelist Michael LaJoie, CTO Time Warner Cable, talked briefly about TWC’s interactive efforts (using OCAP on DOCSIS), including direct marketing applications. “I’m not willing to tell what the percentage is, but it is much better than direct mail. Customers like (it).”
Werner concurred that the response has been “huge,” but added that his company’s EBIF platform will be about a lot more than interactive ads. “There are a lot of things going on, on the show floor…using the EBIF standard as a way to get in and out of the box.”
EBIF also means multiple configurations and varying levels of graphics depending, in part, on the age of the consumer equipment. “You want consumer appeal to be high, but you are working with legacy boxes,” Elayan said.