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SeaChange’s Changes Come in Waves

NOON -- For the cable operators that have rested on the laurels of their TV monopolies for as long as they can remember, embracing the Web in all its open, interactive glory is a daunting task. That’s where middleware companies like SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC) and NDS Ltd. come in with lots of innovative ideas -- and the sense to know they have to take it slow when courting the cablecos.

Debunking the myth that on-demand movies will replace DVD sales, SeaChange today introduced a new "Watch & Buy" commerce service that lets operators sell DVDs and other goodies to users after they demand a movie. The service is available today for operators using the SeaChange VODlink application platform.

The DVD service, a lightweight set-top box app, includes user interface customization and back-end order fulfillment managed by SeaChange. When a consumer demands a movie, a symbol will indicate if it’s also available for purchase. Operators can opt to give the VoD session free with purchase or throw in the movie’s soundtrack or offer other value-added services.

SeaChange’s Watch & Buy service is one of several announcements it has made this week to help ease operators into interactivity and three-screen domination. The company has added support for Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBE) Flash and the iPad, which SeaChange’s Damian Mulcock says will become an important part of the in-home cable experience. It also unveiled an ad program to prep operators for multi-screen advertising. (See SeaChange Adds iPad, Flash Support and SeaChange Launches Ad Program.)

Both SeaChange and NDS are showing off impressive demos of what the user experience could look like on TV, but agree that most operators aren’t yet ready for the full-blown Web-like experience. NDS sales director Paul Ranger is calling NDS’s prototype a “new-generation user interface” -- not next-gen, because it’s available now but is only being adopted in pieces. Cox Communications Inc. , for example, will be adopting parts of the UI, like the improved content discovery and some widgets, but will have to ease into the whole package. (See Cox to Offer Tru2way Guide to Others.)

“The demo gets positive reactions,” Ranger says. “It’s cutting-edge and polished, but it reflects the trends happening now. We take the different operator priorities and bring them together… I think they’ll have a holistic, integrated experience over the next two years.”

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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