This week's IBC confab in Amsterdam served as the launch pad for Horizon TV, Liberty Global Inc.'s long-awaited video platform that's headlined by a tricked-out QAM/IP gateway and the ability to ship video and apps wirelessly to PCs, laptops and smartphones.
Liberty Global says it's launching Horizon TV first in UPC Netherlands, followed by deployments in Switzerland, Germany and Ireland over the next three to six months.
Powered by a cloud-based interface from NDS (now part of Cisco Systems Inc.) and a gateway from Samsung Corp., Horizon TV is kicking off with the ability to stream 80 linear TV channels and get access to 3,500 TV shows and about 2,000 movies from its video-on-demand (VoD) library. Its initial walled garden of Web apps includes YouTube Inc., Facebook and Wikipedia. In addition to turning the iPad into a TV screen, Liberty Global has also developed an app that turns the popular tablet into a fancy remote control.
To assemble Horizon TV, a service that's coming out a year later than anticipated, Liberty Global has integrated a mishmash of components from a broad range of vendors. Here are some of the more prominent pieces and players:
Why this matters
The debut of Horizon TV marks Liberty Global's first big step toward migrating video services to IP and expanded support of a wide range of connected screens that rely on a common, cloud-based user interface. Liberty Global is also teaming Horizon TV with an open software developers' kit and an app store that's already got dozens of developers on board.
Horizon TV is also coming into the picture as Liberty Global, like its U.S. cable cousins, looks to fend off video subscription losses coming way of satellite and telco competition. Liberty Global, the world's second-largest MSO, lost 169,000 video subs in the first half of 2012, giving it a total of 18.3 million.
Liberty Global's general approach is similar to the one under way in the U.S., as Comcast and other cable operators introduce hybrid video gateways and begin to rely more heavily on UIs and apps that live in the proverbial cloud and can be swapped and changed much faster than they could in the old QAM-based world of digital video.
â€” Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable