Despite talk of a VOD vendor shakeout, the battle for space at the headend isn’t dying any time soon. Arroyo pres/CEO Kim Kelly is no stranger to competition, having been at the helm at Insight for 13 years while it fended off satellite competitors. "Cable is always competitive with satellite and will be even more so with telephone, but if you really want competition come to this space. It’s fierce," she says. "And believe me no one wears any gloves." A number of companies, including Arroyo, Broadbus, and Kassena, to name a few, are stepping up to challenge incumbent VOD equipment providers SeaChange, Concurrent, and nCube, with systems they say are far more flexible than those of the companies that command the greatest share of the market. Broadbus, for example, says its RAM-based streaming system is more future-proof than streamed content from a hard drive. What’s ahead for 2005? Arroyo and Broadbus plan to announce deployments and customers early next year (they’re just waiting for MSO approvals). Two-year old Arroyo will announce its first big product launch, and Broadbus is working with 4 of the 6 largest MSOs, company pres Jeff Binder said. If those customer wins displace current vendors, real changes could be coming to the market. But they’ve got some giants to topple. Talk that big player nCUBE might exit the VOD server business following its acquisition by C-COR this year isn’t true, a company rep says. "nCube is very committed to providing the best, scaleable, reliable, open interoperable server in the market, and we’ll continue to do so." – Mavis Scanlon

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