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UPC Adds YouTube to Cable Line-Up

Mari Silbey

YouTube is coming to cable… at least for UPC Hungary's 1.5 million subscribers.

A business unit of Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY), UPC Hungary launched an app store on its HD set-tops in May and now plans to extend access to all video subscribers by the end of the year. That includes not only customers with high-end boxes, but also those with legacy and even standard-definition set-tops. The app store features more than 20 apps, including such notables as YouTube, Flickr, and Google Maps. The news of the expanded deployment was first reported by Janko Roettgers of GigaOM.

What makes the UPC deployment especially interesting is how the company is delivering YouTube content. UPC Hungary is the first service provider publicly to deploy ActiveVideo 's CloudTV StreamCast platform, which turns YouTube's web content into a personalized video stream that is then delivered to subscriber boxes. This technical approach builds on the platform that ActiveVideo has already used to implement cloud-based user interfaces. It allows service providers to reach all subscribers with advanced guide features, not just those customers with newer set-tops.

ActiveVideo has also expanded in the advertising space. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, the company announced its CloudTV AdCast solution for turning HTML5 ads into video streams for multi-platform distribution. L'Oréal was one of the first customers for that product. American Express has said it will trial AdCast with Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) to deliver a TV app called "Amex NOW" sometime this year. (See ActiveVideo Unveils Ad Distribution System .)

On the ActiveVideo blog, CMO Murali Nemani wrote that the UPC deployment "results are still hush-hush, but what can be said is that within just a few weeks the service has already exceeded both usage and engagement targets for the first six months."

Nemani also pointed out that parent company Liberty Global could "quickly use the same virtualization of CPE functionality to bring YouTube to its entire footprint of millions of D4A boxes throughout Europe and Latin America." While there have been no announcements to that effect yet, ActiveVideo has opened the door to the possibility through its UPC Hungary deployment.

Existing customers for the broader ActiveVideo CloudTV platform include Cablevision, Charter Communications Inc. , and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) in the US, along with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), which has been running a small trial for some time in Tennessee. Ziggo B.V. , Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), and Liberty Cablevision of Puerto Rico LLC. (Liberty Puerto Rico) are among ActiveVideo's international customers. (See Liberty Deploys Cloud-Based Social UI.)

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Sabre
6/21/2014 | 9:35:47 PM
Re: YouTube
@danielcawrey I'm not one of those people who relied on YouTube to represent independent artists, but for those who were, the newly defined direction is bad news. It makes one wonder what would have happened if YouTube had not been taken over by Google. 
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/20/2014 | 10:35:05 PM
Re: YouTube
I think that they tried the independent artists route only to discover that more tried and true acts were of more value. 

Regardless, I think that's there tremendous offerings on YouTube. I think we all know at this point there is a sacrifice of quality, but that's the discount paid for clips that the site provides to its users. 
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/20/2014 | 11:04:13 AM
I never thought of YouTube as a cable kind of channel. But I believe it has changed over the years and is leaning more toward commercial ventures. I saw a link yesterday about its dropping independent artists in favor of the bigger names http://www.forbes.com/sites/hughmcintyre/2014/06/18/youtube-is-about-to-delete-independent-artists-from-its-site/"

YouTube is preparing to radically change the site, adding a subscription service that is intended to help them compete in the streaming music industry. The Google GOOGL -0.57%-owned video site has already signed new licensing deals with all of the major labels, but many independents are refusing to take part. Apparently, not only are smaller, indie labels not being offered the same deals as the majors, but the contracts that Google is putting in front of them are less than fair.

In order to show their muscle, Google has stated that any label—meaning smaller, independent ones—that does not sign a deal with them will not only be left off the new service, but will have their content taken down from the original, free YouTube. Vice President and Global Head of Business at YouTube Robert Kyncl recently claimed that they already had deals with 90% of the industry, and that they had no choice but to move forward.
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