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SDV: Cable's Stepping Stone to IP Video?

ATLANTA -- Cable Next-Gen Video Strategies -- Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is preparing to deploy switched digital video (SDV) as the second phase of its master bandwidth management plan, but the MSO acknowledges that the technology could also be used as a stepping stone to IP-based video services.

Keynoting here this morning at a Light Reading conference dedicated to cable's multi-screen video strategies, Jay Kreiling, Comcast's vice president of video services, noted that SDV "plays a role in the [IPTV] ecosystem," when asked if there were specific linkages between the two technologies.

IPTV is no longer a four-letter word to cable, with most major operators now trying to figure out how to migrate to IP-based video services without disrupting the industry's MPEG-based digital video legacy. Among major MSOs, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) is expected to test out Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Mediaroom platform in Los Angeles later this year. (See TWC Taps Microsoft Mediaroom for IPTV Test .)

Comcast hasn't revealed any specific IPTV activities beyond its PC-centric TV Everywhere Xfinity TV service, but Kreiling noted that cable is growing more interested in IP video as it seeks out ways to help customers consume video across different platforms and across myriad devices. "You want a common language," he said, contending that IP offers "promising potential to serve as that convergence point."

He said SDV can help cable get there "to a certain extent."

Comcast has conducted some limited SDV trials, but has generally kept the technology on the back burner as it instead went aggressively after an analog-reclamation project fueled by simple Digital Terminal Adapter (DTA) devices. Comcast has that initiative -- internally dubbed Project Cavalry -- completed in about 43 percent of its footprint and hopes to have 80 percent of the job done by the end of the year. (See Comcast's $1B Bandwidth Plan .)

Project Cavalry has used standard-def DTAs exclusively so far, but hi-def versions could enter the picture if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) OKs proposed rule changes that could clear the way for operators to use HD-DTAs with integrated security. (See FCC Inches Towards Net-Agnostic Gateways.)

Kreiling noted that Comcast is supportive of HD-DTA, since up to two thirds of US homes now have HD sets, and such devices would let customers view HD programming on their secondary sets cost-effectively. Once volumes kick in, it's believed that HD-DTAs will sell for less than $50 per unit. For now, CableOne remains the only US operator to get special dispensation from the FCC to use HD-DTAs, and that's for just one small market in Tennessee. (See Cable ONE Looks to Pump Up HD-DTA Volumes and Scoop! Cable ONE Makes HD-DTA Picks .)

Comcast is now getting ready to deploy SDV later this year in an undisclosed number of markets, with more on tap for 2011. A recent FCC filing from Comcast didn't describe the IPTV potential of SDV, but it did note that the MSO believes SDV could help it free up capacity for at least another 50 hi-def channels. (See Comcast Getting Ready to Uncork SDV.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

dhdeans 12/5/2012 | 4:31:19 PM
re: SDV: Cable's Stepping Stone to IP Video?

A compelling IP video offering can be applied to target consumers that are not prospects for traditional linear channel-centric pay-TV services. I hope that Comcast is bold, and uses the full potential of this new platform.


David H. Deans


Digital Lifescapes


 

David H Deans 12/5/2012 | 4:31:19 PM
re: SDV: Cable's Stepping Stone to IP Video?

A compelling IP video offering can be applied to target consumers that are not prospects for traditional linear channel-centric pay-TV services. I hope that Comcast is bold, and uses the full potential of this new platform.


David H. Deans


Digital Lifescapes


 

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:31:18 PM
re: SDV: Cable's Stepping Stone to IP Video?

Yes, it will be interesting to see when and how Comcast uses SDV. I get the sense that they will initially use it, like other have, to use existing bandwidth more efficiently so they can do more HD and introduce some niche channels without having to do full broadcasts.  But further down the line, it does open them up to do more targeted ads and start to add IP video to the mix.  But I wonder how they'll use IP video.  Are you suggesting that they could craft some new video packages that are exclusively IP?  JB

dhdeans 12/5/2012 | 4:31:13 PM
re: SDV: Cable's Stepping Stone to IP Video?

Yes, Jeff, that's what I'm suggesting -- IP video can be used to target totally new customers with non-traditional offerings. I elaborated on my thinking within this post -- New Segmentation: a Source of IPTV Innovation

David H Deans 12/5/2012 | 4:31:13 PM
re: SDV: Cable's Stepping Stone to IP Video?

Yes, Jeff, that's what I'm suggesting -- IP video can be used to target totally new customers with non-traditional offerings. I elaborated on my thinking within this post -- New Segmentation: a Source of IPTV Innovation

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