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Comcast Accelerates ITV Development

NEW YORK -- Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is using one of its cable systems in the south as a "rapid deployment network" for new interactive TV (ITV) applications, a top MSO executive said here today at an event dedicated to advanced video services.

While Mark Hess, Comcast's SVP of video product management, wouldn't detail the cable market or outline all of the new ITV applications Comcast is testing, he said the MSO is hitting the accelerator to deploy six applications, including t-commerce and interactive advertising, noting that Comcast has run 340 interactive ad campaigns since the middle of 2010.

Comcast counts 14.5 million homes that are capable of receiving interactive programming and ads that rely on the Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) platform, Hess said.

"EBIF is not going away. It's too important a platform for us," Hess told attendees at the TV of Tomorrow – NYC Intensive conference. Comcast is also deploying a "remind/record" app that lets subscribers set a DVR recording when prompted by overlay ads from TV programmers, Hess said.

T-commerce appears to be one of the more promising interactive apps for Comcast, with Hess noting that Comcast subscribers have shown that they are four times more likely to complete a transaction through HSN Shop By Remote than when they shop for products online. (See HSN’s 'T-Commerce' App Gains Traction.)

On the Web, "Ninety-seven percent of people get all the way to the moment of truth and say, 'Nah, I don't really want this,'" Hess said, explaining how HSN Shop By Remote appears to be more effective at getting consumers to complete a transaction. "Video sells -- that's why video advertising exists," he added.

Also worth noting from the confab:

  • The Comcast Media Center (CMC) is running tests on how cable subscribers could use the Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad and other mobile devices to conduct t-commerce transactions, said VP of engineering James Capps. (See Comcast Invades the iPad .)

  • Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) is testing an application that allows subscribers who view movie trailers to jump directly to the video-on-demand (VoD) page for the advertised movie by responding to an interactive overlay, said TWC SVP of operations Chris Faw.

  • Time Warner Cable counts 4.5 million homes EBIF-ready homes, and is running interactive ads in 13 or 14 markets, Faw said.

    — Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable

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