Nsight Takes ZillionTV on a Test Run
At a morning session here dedicated to the telco future, Nsight executive VP and director of corporate development Robert Riordan said his company is trialing the service, noting that Nsight is especially attracted to ZillionTV's revenue-sharing model and a content distribution approach that caches movies and TV shows close to customers so transport costs are kept in check.
In a follow-up conversation with Cable Digital News, Riordan said Nsight has completed the technology portion of the trial and has 50 ZillionTV-enabled boxes in-hand that will be sent out to customers. [Ed. note: 50 Zillion!? That's got to be a record!].
"The technology looks to be solid," Riordan said, noting that he is also happy with a new ZillionTV interface.
One of the things that does need some work is the amount and quality of content offered by ZillionTV. "They still need to get that up to speed… but they do have a lot of good stuff," Riordan said.
ZillionTV, which counts content partners including Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: LGF), Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), 20th Century Fox , NBC Universal , Sony Pictures Digital Inc. , and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. , has discussed starting the service up with about 15,000 titles, many of which to be offered for free (ad-supported). (See ZillionTV Not Just Another Box, CEO Says and ZillionTV Adds Lions Gate Content.)
Riordan said Nsight is considering ZillionTV as the telco looks to enhance its linear TV service with on-demand offerings. Nsight also pondered other Internet-based options, such as Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), but they don't offer a revenue share. Plus, "they [Netflix] steal my entire pipe," he said, re-emphasizing ZillionTV's local caching model.
Nsight has not indicated a specific launch date for ZillionTV, but Riordan said he anticipates a wider rollout sometime in 2010. In addition to movies and TV shows, Riordan hopes Nsight can tap the ZillionTV headend to store locally produced content, like high school football games, and get a return on that through advertising.
Nsight, also known as Northeast Communications of Wisconsin, offers wireless, Internet, landline voice, and cable services through subsidiaries, including Cellcom, Nsight Telservices [sic], Northeast Telephone, Bayland Telephone, and NetNet.
Progress amid the turmoil
ZillionTV appears to be making some progress with broadband partners even as it undergoes some big changes up top and looks to tweak its deployment model.
In October, the company confirmed that it laid off about one-third of its 100 employees, with most cuts coming from engineering. Soon after, Mitch Berman confirmed he was stepping down as CEO, but staying on as executive chairman, in charge of securing and developing strategic relationships with service providers, content producers, tech companies, and advertisers. Cable and telecom vet Jack Lawrence succeeded Berman as ZillionTV's CEO. (See ZillionTV Confirms CEO Swap.)
In September, the company announced it would complement an ISP partnering model with a direct-to-consumer approach that embeds ZillionTV's technology in TVs and other broadband-connected devices.
"In areas where we are not served by one of our partners, we will go direct," Berman said at the time. He also said ZillionTV's product was in "thousands" of homes but didn't reveal any service partners. (See A 'Zillion' Reasons Behind Delay of Internet TV Launch.)
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News