EBIF is getting a lot of attention because it holds the promise of increased revenues from interactive advertising. (For more click here). But EBIF isn’t just for advertising.

Starz Entertainment is working on an EBIF app to help its viewers navigate its library of movies and enhance their overall experience of the premium network.

The app, known as "Watch Now" looks like a pop-up box on the TV screen. Using their remote controls, viewers would be able to click on various choices, such as start again, review top Starz titles, or find out what’s next.

Rebecca Rusk Lim, senior director of Internet and interactive TV with Starz, said the app has been field-trialed with a small MSO, and Starz is working on a new version of it for operators to test.

Although EBIF interactivity is limited by legacy set-tops and remote controls with only left-right and up-down buttons, Lim said people like easy-to-use apps similar to a bank ATM machine. "Dead simple – that’s what the consumer wants," she said.

EBIF roll-outs are really up to operator timelines at this point.

At an EBIF session at the TV of Tomorrow conference in San Francisco earlier this year, Mark Hess, SVP of video business and product development with Comcast said, "We just finished our EBIF integration on SA – done by itaas." He said that included almost 13 million homes, or about 20 million set tops.

At that same conference, Chris Faw, SVP of operations for Time Warner Cable, said the MSO planned to have seven million EBIF boxes by the end of the year. It already has about 900,000 EBIF boxes, mostly in New York City.

"We saw in EBIF a better way to do advertising," said Faw. "From a pure, selfish ad standpoint, it’s changing over to a better technology." (For Canoe’s work with EBIF templates for ads, click here).

"The ad side is really pushing the industry forward, but if it’s only advertising, that’s going to turn consumers off," said Lim.

Others have echoed that sentiment. If consumers start associating interactive elements only with advertisements, that could have a detrimental effect on their popularity.

"Right now there’s a lot of emphasis on ads," said Lim.

-Linda Hardesty

The Daily

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