Now that the OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP) engine is tuned up and ready to go, cable operators would like to see developers step up to the chassis to build new features and applications.

On that note, CableLabs and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association are co-sponsoring a day-and-a-half OCAP Developer’s Conference to kick off The Cable Show ’07 in Las Vegas next month. The OCAP conference, which starts Sunday morning at the Mandalay Bay resort, was designed to help content providers and application developers acquire a thorough understanding of not only how OCAP functions, but also how all of the entities can make it profitable for themselves.

"We believe a community will develop around OCAP as it rolls out across the cable footprint, and we want that community to have a home at the Cable Show," said Mark Bell, NCTA’s vice president, industry affairs, who will be one of the speakers at the OCAP conference. "We’re looking to help build a heightened awareness of the OCAP platform among third-party developers. We want to leverage the Cable Show platform to facilitate putting cable’s powerful iTV toolkit in the hands of a broad creative universe."

The first session gives a tutorial on the elements of OCAP while the second rolls out cable’s heavy hitters. The "O is for Outlook: MSOs on OCAP Developments and Plans" session features Cox CTO Chris Bowick; Time Warner Cable‘s Mike Hayashi, senior vice president, advanced technology and engineering; Comcast‘s James Mumma, director, video product development; and Advance/Newhouse‘s Arthur Orduña, senior vice president, policy and product.

"One of the key things at the conference is that the MSOs are going to be talking about the rollouts that are going to happen over the next year and half," said Mike Malcy, vice president of Vidiom Systems, which is a premier sponsor for the conference. "You’ve got the platform now, you’ve got the hardware, and you’ve got the headends being converted. Now we need to get the developer community involved. That’s the last piece to the puzzle." The Weather Channel to demo apps In addition to other cable operator and CableLabs employees in conference sessions, The Weather Channel will also be on hand to speak about its interactive applications.

"One of the reasons we chose The Weather Channel to do this stuff is because they already have interactive applications in other places," Malcy said. "They have servers in everybody’s headends, so it’s a natural progression for them to be one of the first ones to break in with OCAP and ETV applications. They’re going to show both of those there and show how to get advertisers into these things."

Malcy said Vidiom hears from developers who have "cool applications," but have no idea what the cable industry is about, or how the cool application can lead to increased revenues. Sessions such as "Economics 101: The Business Case for OCAP" will help them understand how to make their applications profitable.

"There’s this whole paradox that if someone doing an interactive game, then they’re not watching a commercial, so the cable operator’s CPM (cost per thousand impressions) goes down," Malcy said. "How do you deal with that kind of stuff? That’s what this course will talk about, some of the business cases."

The "OCAP in the Real World" session will let audience members ask the panel experts questions and features Comcast’s Mark Vickers and Scientific Atlanta‘s Jeff Seebeck, among others.

For those who can’t make Vegas on Sunday, there will be a recap of the first day Monday morning before the OCAP conference wraps up at noon. OCAP will also have a strong presence at the show the rest of the week. For more information on the OCAP Developer’s Conference sessions, go to http://www.thecableshow.com/Attendees/Sessions.aspx?TrackId=19.Mike Robuck

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