Light Reading sat down recently with Mike Angus, general manager and senior vice president of Video at Time Warner Cable, to hear his thoughts on a range of key video and broadband topics.
With apps for the Roku Inc. media streamer, Xbox, and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC)'s connected TVs, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) leads the MSO pack on multiscreen video in many ways. In our discussion, Angus opened up about the TW Cable approach, shared information on the company's roadmap, and even offered his personal opinion on Cox Communications Inc. 's flareWatch IPTV trial. Read on.
Delivering to more devices
"Today our customers are telling us they want to be able to access the services they're paying for and the content they're buying from us across devices in different ways, in different rooms in their household. So you've seen us roll out on iPad and iPhone initially, and add channels and add video-on-demand. We've added Android platform. We've launched on the Roku device with live streaming, Xbox with live streaming, and now Samsung TVs with VoD.
"We are very aggressively and actively talking to other folks about finding ways to provide our content and give our customers access on other devices as well so that they have as many options as they want to access that content."
Bandwidth capacity and data caps
"We're also aggressively moving to a more digital platform, and that frees up bandwidth and capacity and capability for us to provide more services and functionality over IP. When we're delivering inside the home -- which are our Roku, Xbox, and Samsung TV experiences -- that's a format delivery and not Internet delivery, so it's not even, it's not a function of any data cap or Internet usage at all… it's not Internet. So when customers buy Internet from us for HSD (high-speed data), that's to access the public internet. When we deliver video to them, whether it's IP or QAM, MPEG2, MPEG4, whatever the format, it is part of our managed plan video delivery. It all comes over the coax, so that's really more of a format question rather than a data or video question."
Out-of-home viewing rights
"It has changed so dramatically over the past few years… I think you're seeing more and more programmers embracing the [idea] of TV Everywhere. I think initially there was some reticence and uncertainty about not just monetization, but how it was going to get viewed. And I think a lot of folks on the programming side, and even the studio side, scratched their heads for a while to try and determine: Wow, is this a new business model, and is this something we should look at as a window or a new product or service? I think what the marketplace has shown, and really HBO is a perfect example, despite the astronomical usage that they cite all the time, and the popularity of the application, over 90 percent of that is actually watched inside the home.
"And if I'm putting myself in the shoes of the programmer, all things equal, if I've got someone who's paying me through Time Warner Cable, or DirecTV, or your favorite provider… I would rather have my stuff there and maintain that connection with that customer and that viewer, and keep the touch point than to have them go and want to watch what I have and have it not be available."
"There's a lot of learning and transferability. Each platform is unique. A lot of them are HTML5-based, which gives us a lot of great scalability. Once we build the APIs for a couple of platforms, we're usually able to repurpose those APIs across new platforms, so the iteration, both in terms of both new and additional platforms as well as feature and functionality enhancements across those platforms, is becoming more and more scalable. And that goes straight to our new set-top box strategy, which is to run these cloud-based navigation [guides] and an HTML5 platform, and as we bring that online, the ability to take what we're doing on the set-top box side in terms of cloud and use that HTML5 code and propagate that across devices is very, very much at the forefront of our strategy."
What's next for TWC apps?
"We're getting great feedback from all of our customers and our partners on how those apps are working, and not just the adoption and use of the product, but customer feedback and satisfaction. People love it. And that's really helped guide us in terms of our development strategy. What you're going to see from us in the short-term is adding VoD functionality to Roku and to Xbox so that we're providing a more comprehensive, robust offering across those two, and adding live [streaming] to the Samsung TV platform. So really rounding those out, and then hopefully some new platforms on the horizon."
"I love their product. Having watched the Cox trial closely in terms of the stuff that they've put out and talking to folks who've used the service there in Orange County, and Fanhattan's overall approach to how they embrace the industry, I think it's spot on. You put that experience front and center on a device like that -- that's what customers who are buying cable want. That's where they watch the overwhelming majority of their content, and it's an intuitive way to bridge the CE and pay-TV world."
*Note: This is Mike Angus' personal opinion and does not represent Time Warner Cable's official position on the company or its technology.
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable