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CableLabs, Studios Back TV Everywhere Registry

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LR Cable News Analysis
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Looking to streamline distribution of TV Everywhere content on platforms ranging from cable video on demand (VoD) to mobile phones, CableLabs , Rovi Corp. , and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) are teaming up with the major Hollywood studios to create a digital registry for cataloging movies and TV shows.

Beginning early next year, the studios and other content providers will begin to add universal ID codes to millions of video assets, which will help content firms and distributors identify multiple versions of the same video. Executives say the goal of the Entertainment Identifier Registry (EIDR) is to ensure that the correct version of a video is delivered to various devices, and that the effort should lower costs and result in more efficient distribution.

"There was a need to have a universal ID mechanism similar to a UPC code or ISBN [International Standard Book Numbercode] for books. There was nothing in the industry that at a high level identified digital movie and programming assets," says CableLabs VP and deputy general counsel Jud Cary.

CableLabs is teaming up with Comcast, interactive program guide specialist Rovi, and MovieLabs on the project, which will be managed initially by Rovi. The companies plan to announce their plans for the nonprofit registry today.

The registry will assign a 22-digit code to movies and TV assets, with each version of a video receiving one of the unique codes. Cary says the registry could help distributors differentiate between formats such as MPEG-2 or MPEG-4.

Initial members include the studios that fund the MovieLabs joint venture -- Paramount Pictures Corp. , Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox , Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. . Several other industry players are members, including Neustar Inc. (NYSE: NSR), Sonic Solutions (Nasdaq: SNIC), and Deluxe Entertainment Group.

The studios are working separately with Comcast, Cox Communications Inc. , Neustar, and other firms on an effort to create a digital rights locker that would allow consumers to buy a DVD in retail outlets, and access the video on cable VoD, portable media players, and other devices at no additional charge. (See Consortium Labels Its TV Everywhere Locker.)

Cary says Rovi is providing services to get the EIDR up and running, and that the coalition will only look to recover its costs.

— Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable

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