& cplSiteName &

Comcast, TWC Plan for EBIF

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

BOSTON -- Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing Summit -- Cable's interactive future is linked to tru2way , but larger, upcoming deployments will no doubt be centered on simpler applications enabled by the Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF), a CableLabs -specified platform that can run on the industry's entire universe of digital set-tops. (See Comcast Media Center Buffs Up for EBIF and SureWest Triggers EBIF Strategy .)

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), the two largest MSOs in the U.S., are already laying the groundwork for EBIF, installing and enabling their networks and set-tops to accept relatively simple enhanced television applications that allow viewers to participate in polling questions, play games, request more information about advertised products, and upgrade or order cable services with the click of a remote.

EBIF will also play a big, early role in the advanced advertising service bureau under development at MSO-backed Canoe Ventures. (See Canoe Ventures: What It Is, What It Ain't and Ad Emblem .)

"All of these are being done in the EBIF language," said Mark Hess, Comcast's SVP, product development – video, during a panel session here Tuesday afternoon. "The [interactive] platform is being deployed."

Comcast, Hess said, expects to have EBIF "enabled" in 10 million homes by the end of the year and, by the middle of 2009, across all of the MSO's Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)-based footprint, equal to about 75 percent of the operator's cable properties. Comcast is also ironing out a way to run EBIF on its Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)-based systems.

Time Warner Cable, meanwhile, plans to have EBIF running in all its digital boxes sometime next year, according to TWC SVP of video product strategy Bob Benya. Still, the MSO has already introduced interactive applications (including some voting, interactive ads, and customer care apps) in virtually all of its operating divisions using some pre-standard tech.

Benya says experience at TWC has shown that consumers indeed like to interact with their televisions, and that desire increases when viewers can interact on one screen rather than having to synch up the action with a laptop or PC connected to the Internet. "When it's simple... it adds to the viewing experience," Benya said.

Among shows that support interactive polling, TWC has seen average viewer participation of 17 percent, with spikes as high as 41 percent.

Operators hope EBIF gives them a common technical platform for some of these simpler apps, allowing them and content providers to deploy them at scale. Despite the presence of a CableLabs spec, it's possible that EBIF clients used by MSOs won't be precisely uniform. Comcast's EBIF client is being developed by the TVWorks LLC joint venture with Cox Communications Inc. , and Time Warner Cable has just licensed EBIF technology from BIAP Systems Inc. Others, such as Zodiac Interactive , have developed generic EBIF players. (See Boffo for EBIF.)

The road to tru2way
Longer term, iTV plans will be centered on tru2way, a richer platform that runs on newer, more advanced digital boxes. Several major U.S. cable operators will have their headends ready for tru2way by next July. (See Revealed: The Tru2way MOU.)

Comcast is already supporting tru2way-powered TVs from Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC) in Chicago and Denver, which allow customers to use the operator's interactive program guide and services like video on demand (VOD) without a separate set-top box. (See Denver, Chicago First to Get Tru2way TVs.)

Time Warner Cable is not yet supporting tru2way TVs in any of its markets on a commercial basis, but it has rolled out 1.5 million digital set-tops based on the platform. Early on those boxes are supporting Time Warner Cable's "resident" applications, including its in-house navigator, but the company hopes third parties will step up to supply new apps and services, as well. With tru2way, "the barrier to entry is sort of eliminated," Benya said.

Premium programmer Showtime Networks Inc. hopes to participate in all phases of cable's ITV evolution -- from EBIF to tru2way. It has already developed a set of apps for EBIF that allow customers to order the service or play sports trivia games that synch up to live programs.

David Preisman, vice president of interactive television for Showtime, said content developers and programmers should not expect iTV apps to start raking in the cash from day one, but called on programmers and content developers to participate early on to help hasten the evolution of the business model.

"There has to be some content out there to prime the pump," Preisman said.

"If we try to establish the perfect business model, we won't have the chicken or the egg," Hess added.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:27:15 PM
re: Comcast, TWC Plan for EBIF

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:27:11 PM
re: Comcast, TWC Plan for EBIF


Here is interactive "TV" with a long storyline (they call it lore) lots of characters and interaction on a global basis....it should do about $200M in revenue this week and another $1B or so annually for a few years (it already does the latter).


User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:27:06 PM
re: Comcast, TWC Plan for EBIF
Forgot about 2 way games
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
Friday, October 28, 1:00PM EDT
Security: The Plusses and Minuses of Open Source Software
Nick Feamster, Acting Director, Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University
Wednesday, November 9, 1:00PM EST
MANO 101
Friday, November 11, 1:00PM EST
Open Source for NFV MANO
Wednesday, November 16, 1:00PM EST
SDN 101
John Isch, Practice Director, Network & Voice, Orange Business Services
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
OneAccess NFV Solutions

10|26|16   |   5:30   |   (0) comments

Antoine Clerget, CTO of OneAccess, discusses how his company has expanded its product line from enterprise-class routers to include a universal virtualized CPE as well as a suite of VNFs to help telco customers evolve to an NFV future.
LRTV Custom TV
The Journey Toward Carrier-Grade WiFi

10|26|16   |   3:39   |   (0) comments

In this Light Reading interview, Dave Sperling, CTO at Smith Micro Software and active participant of the WBA's policy working group, discusses the need for carrier-grade WiFi. Technical and business challenges slowing the fulfillment of this goal are addressed, as well as management strategies that will enable communication service providers to optimize end user ...
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE BBWF Highlights

10|26|16   |     |   (0) comments

At BBWF 2016, ZTE showed a broad range of innovative technologies that are kick-starting an ultrafast broadband journey.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation Technology Beyond DOCSIS 3.1

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Liu Jianhua speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Hybrid Video Solutions to Change TV, Change Future

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Ian Locke speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei Future-Oriented Giga Coax Network

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Allen Wang speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei at SCTE 2016

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join Alan Breznick of Light Reading and take a sneak peek at the Huawei booth at SCTE 2016.
LRTV Custom TV
Assuring Network Quality in a Rapidly Changing Environment

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

As the rate of change and complexity increases in agile networks, the importance of introducing DevOps methodologies for integrating active test and assurance solutions throughout the full service lifecycle becomes critical to ensure that customers are experiencing the service quality they demand. The industry landscape is changing, and software-based test and ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
A10 Networks on Service Providers' Industry Needs

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders hears how A10 enables service providers to accelerate, secure and optimize their application delivery to drive down costs, enhance service availability, and better respond to customer requirements, so they can improve customer satisfaction, monetize their network, and grow revenues.
LRTV Custom TV
New NFV Use Cases for Cable TV

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

A large number of NFV use cases are focused on the enterprise domain, looking at virtualization of customer-premises equipment (CPE). To date, there has been little focus on the use cases and business case for virtualization of the video content delivery networks required to deliver unicast and streaming video to consumers. Amdocs commissioned Analysys Mason to ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Meet the Future Workforce: New Faces, Expectations & Motivations

10|19|16   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

Millennials and their younger peers, Gen Z, expect more out of their network and more out of their work. Intel's Lynn Comp shares how the industry can prepare for this new generation of workers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE Global Services User Congress 2016 Highlights

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

ZTE held its 2nd Global Service User Conference in Dusseldorf on October 13-14. Representatives from network operators, leading industry analysts and ZTE senior expertsattended the event, exploring the best practice in managed services and the vision to transform network operations into the operations center of the future (OpCF) in the software-defined networking ...
Upcoming Live Events
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Attacks Have Major Internet Sites on the Ropes
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 10/21/2016
Trump: Dump AT&T/TW & Comcast/NBC
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 10/24/2016
Google Fiber Hits Pause Button, Scales Back
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 10/26/2016
Layer3 TV Comes to Town, Hints at Future
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 10/21/2016
T-Mobile: AT&T & TW Means Ma Bell Not Focused on Mobile
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 10/24/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
Animals with Phones
'Oh, Were You Looking for This?' Click Here
'I was just playing some games...'
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.