OpenTV Takes Interactive Ad System Global

Following some U.S. success for its advanced ad campaign management system, OpenTV Corp. (Nasdaq: OPTV) is developing a version of EclipsePlus for the international video market.

That version should be ready to go by the third quarter of 2009, OpenTV CEO Ben Bennett revealed on yesterday's first-quarter earnings call. EclipsePlus handles ad inventory for interactive advertising, as well as addressable (i.e. more-targeted) commercials, and ads that can be inserted into video-on-demand assets. OpenTV has not announced any international customers for its new product, but systems operated by Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) and Ziggo B.V. are among some of the possibilities.

According to Bennett, EclipsePlus is already serving 15 of the top 25 U.S. cable DMAs (designated market areas) and delivering spot ads to 29.5 million U.S. cable subs.

The latest to join the group is Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), which is using the EclipsePlus platform to manage ad sales operations across its regional operating centers (ROCs) in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Cleveland. Collectively, those ROCs serve more than 12.3 million subs, or roughly 97 percent of the MSO's total sub base. Comcast Spotlight, Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Charter Communications Inc. , and Midcontinent Communications (Midco) are among others that are already using EclipsePlus. (See TWC, OpenTV Strike Advanced Ad Deal.)

The latest deal once again gives OpenTV some solid footing at the nation's second-largest MSO. Last year, Time Warner Cable and OpenTV mothballed a middleware project for TWC's Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)-based digital cable systems. (See OpenTV, TWC Freeze Middleware Deal.

By the numbers
Despite the recent customer wins, OpenTV said first-quarter revenues fell, thanks to its middleware and ad segments, as did OpenTV's quarterly profits. (See OpenTV Posts Q1.)

Table 1: Financial Snapshot
1Q08 1Q09 Change (%)
Revenues ($B) 0.033 0.029 -12%
Net Income ($B) 0.006 0.001 -83%
EPS ($) 0.05 0.01 -80%
Source: OpenTV

An additional 6.1 million digital devices with OpenTV's middleware were shipped in the quarter, extending the company's total to 127 million. About 1.2 million devices shipped in the first quarter had digital video recorders on board, a 61 percent increase from a year ago. Elsewhere, OpenTV is "close" to launching its Core2 middleware system with a cable operator in China that's converting its system from analog to digital, Bennett said, but didn't name names.

Bennett declined to provide much further color on a proposal by Kudelski Group to acquire all of the OpenTV class A ordinary shares not already owned by Kudelski. (See Kudelski Wants Its OpenTV .)

He reiterated that OpenTV has formed a special committee of independent directors to review the proposal, adding only that the "process is still underway."

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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