SureWest Communications will give its Kansas City subscribers the option of purchasing videos from the VOD menu. The T-commerce technology is made possible through the latest version of SeaChange International’s video-on-demand (VOD) platform – VODlink 5.0.

SureWest will use SeaChange’s Watch & Buy application for subscribers to purchase, for home delivery, DVD and Blu-ray Disc versions of Warner Bros. on-demand streamed movies. SeaChange has configured several first-run titles for disc purchase in Kansas City the same day they are released for VOD viewing, including “Arthur,” “Hall Pass,” “Something Borrowed,” “Sucker Punch,” “Red Riding Hood” and “Unknown.”

"This is the first time we’re adding interactivity in a SeaChange product," said Anthony Landamia, executive director/Product Management, SeaChange. He explained that Watch & Buy is an unbound application – not tied to any particular programming. Customers make their purchases from the same menu they would order an on-demand movie.

While the cable industry has made big strides advancing enhanced binary interchange format (EBIF) to enable interactivity for advertising and other uses, SeaChange’s Watch & Buy application does not use EBIF and does not have the "bound" application capabilities promised by EBIF.

But for SeaChange customers, the addition of Watch & Buy is pretty painless, according to Landamia. It’s included in their next upgrade of VODLink.

Watch & Buy includes a lightweight set-top application, user interface customization, and fully managed back-end order fulfillment. A DVD symbol appearing next to select titles in an operator’s VOD library alerts subscribers that the title is available for purchase.

But why would customers want to buy a movie for delivery through snail mail rather than just watch it immediately on demand?

Landamia said a lot of people still want to own their favorite movies, and the option to purchase adds a new revenue stream for operators. Plus, selling movies is viewed as just the first step. If the T-commerce application proves lucrative, operators may begin to sell other merchandise such as games and DVD collections.

“SureWest is operating in an intensely competitive market in Kansas City, and we see our upgrade to VODlink 5.0 and the launch of Watch & Buy as a significant step in differentiating the services and experiences we can offer to current and potential subscribers,” said Ken Johnson, vice president and chief technology officer, SureWest, in a statement.

Kansas City is top of mind when it comes to broadband technology because Google is building an all-fiber network there. (For more, see Google Picks KCK for Initial Fiber Build).

-Linda Hardesty

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