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SeaChange Navigates TV Everywhere

Jeff Baumgartner
6/9/2011

SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC) is putting Rovi Corp. and the broader interactive program guide market on notice with the debut of Nitro, a user interface that keeps its look and feel consistent across smartphones, PCs, tablets and TVs. (See SeaChange Debuts Nitro Software.)

Nitro, based on technology SeaChange acquired with Vividlogic last year, provides access to an MSO's linear and on-demand content and TV listings as well as more advanced features such as bookmarking and a recommendation engine.

The HTML5-based user interface originates from an network-based app server, allowing service providers to make changes once at the headend instead of having to swap out software on all the devices that rely on it, notes Shiva Patibanda, SeaChange's general manager for in-home products.

"HTML5 is the common factor. It's just a different version of the page for different devices," he adds.

SeaChange says a "major" MSO plans to deploy Nitro later this year. Officials aren't saying which one, but Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) are among its largest service-provider customers. Vividlogic was believed to be the systems integrator for Comcast's Xcalibur service, but Comcast developed the user interface in-house. Virgin has deployed a new SeaChange video back-office that's tailored for multiple screen types.

Nitro-Charged

SeaChange has tied Nitro with Adrenalin, its own multi-screen video back-office, but expects future versions to work with back-office systems from other companies, a group that could include Concurrent Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: CCUR), Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) and BNI Video . The back-office is important here because it can sense the kind of tablet, smartphone, TV or set-top that's requesting data and supply the proper interface at the appropriate resolution.

Nitro is SeaChange's first entry into the user interface sector, where it will take on a bunch of folks with multi-screen ambitions, including Arris, ActiveVideo , NDS Ltd. , Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH; NYSE: TCH), Arris, and Rovi, the 800-pound gorilla of the lot. Nitro will make its debut in demos next week, at The Cable Show in Chicago.

Why this matters
People have been moaning about cable's crummy guides and interfaces forever, so they are finally addressing it. Remote user interfaces (RUIs) like Nitro get cable closer toward using the Web to eventually replace clunky, native set-top guides that are difficult to upgrade and maintain. CableLabs is said to be developing a cable-focused RUI spec.

SeaChange's new focus on video software also comes amid acquisition rumors involving Arris, which also counts Comcast as a big customer and is banking on a new strategy centered around souped-up video gateways and TV Everywhere technologies.

For more
Read more about SeaChange and multi-screen user interfaces.



— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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