Cable Tech

ActiveVideo Storms Europe

Expanding its reach across the Atlantic, ActiveVideo Networks is enjoying a successful European tour as the summer draws to a close.

ActiveVideo , a Leading Lights finalist for private company of the year, announced new or expanded deals with four major European cable operators and telco IPTV providers at the IBC show in Amsterdam Thursday. The deals with Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY), Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN), and Ziggo B.V. should greatly expand the footprint of the Silicon Valley vendor, which has pioneered the idea of cloud-based user interfaces (UIs) and other video services.

In ActiveVideo's biggest score, Liberty Global will use the vendor's CloudTV software platform to expand the reach of its next-gen Horizon TV multi-screen service in Europe and Latin America. Horizon TV is now available to Liberty Global video subscribers through hybrid QAM/IP home gateways in several markets, and CloudTV will enable the MSO to expand distribution to older cable settops and (eventually) other video devices in customers' homes.

"Their immediate target is the millions of QAM boxes," Murali Nemani, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of ActiveVideo, told us. "They want to bring Horizon-like experiences to these QAM boxes."

Liberty Global currently delivers Horizon TV's mix of network DVR, advanced VOD, and UI and other video services to about 300,000 subscribers in Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, and the Netherlands. Plans call for rolling out the service in much of northern and central Europe (including the UK), Chile, Puerto Rico, and other markets. Nemani said Liberty Global will start tapping into CloudTV sometime next year. "Europe and Latin America will move in almost the same time frame."

With ActiveVideo's help, Deutsche Telekom has been testing the delivery of cloud TV services in Germany and Greece. Now DT is moving ahead with a trial of what it calls "virtualized" IPTV settops in Croatia. If all goes well, plans call for commercial deployment in six markets with about 3 million video customers outside Germany next year.

"DT is looking for a killer app," Nemani said. "That killer app happens to be TV."

Glashart Media, a Dutch IPTV provider that was acquired by KPN last year, is already using ActiveVideo's CloudTV H5 platform to offer interactive video services to about 140,000 homes in the Netherlands. The services include a cloud-based UI, on-demand video, network DVR, an electronic programming guide, and other apps. KPN says Glashart is adding about 1,200 CloudTV customers a week.

"It's in market and ramping up," Nemani said. "We think this has a lot of runway." KPN has a potential base of nearly 1 million IPTV subscribers that could get access to the service.

Finally, Ziggo, the largest MSO in the Netherlands, plans to expand its CloudTV deployment to such unmanaged CE devices as smart, IP-connected TVs. Ziggo already offers the ActiveVideo-powered service on about 450,000 cable settop boxes, and now it will make CloudTV available through more than 2 million C1 Plus 1.3 conditional access modules in customers' homes. Plans call for this rollout to start this year.

Thanks to these deals and others still in the works, ActiveVideo expects to extend CloudTV's reach to 20 million devices by the close of 2014 -- double the 10 million devices it supports today. Though European market growth is accelerating, Nemani expects the North American market to catch up again. "We're just trying to get the market to believe this thing can work."

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— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

albreznick 9/16/2013 | 12:15:30 PM
Re: Cable or IPTV First? Good points, Carol. But I still think the cable guys are more willing to take the leap and try new video technologies, in general. Plus, they have more content to play with. Maybe it'll break down on a regional basis, with the cable cos more active in North America and the telcos more active in Europe. 
Carol Wilson 9/13/2013 | 11:17:13 AM
Re: Cable or IPTV First? I'm not sure you have to be cloud-savvy to do the math. Plus many telcos would be drawn to the ability to add capabilities without adding people. 
albreznick 9/13/2013 | 11:00:19 AM
Re: Cable or IPTV First? OK. Makes sense. But are they as could-savvy and video-savvy as the cable guys? I'm still holding out for the MSOs. But some might say I have a bias there. :) 
Carol Wilson 9/13/2013 | 10:12:14 AM
Re: Cable or IPTV First? My vote is the telco guys - they don't have as much legacy infrastructure in place and they are certainly looking for ways to cut the cost of video service delivery since most of them aren't making money on what they offer today. 
albreznick 9/13/2013 | 9:52:43 AM
Cable or IPTV First? So here's my question of the day. Who will embrace the CloudTV concept first? Cable operators or telco IPTV providers? At first, it looked like cable ops but now the IPTV guys are catching up and maybe even pulling ahead. And the Europeans have caught up to North America. Cast your votes here. It will be an interesting race.   
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