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ActiveVideo is a Silicon Valley software company that uses cloud-based technology to bring advanced user interfaces to cable and IPTV set-top boxes and connected consumer electronics devices. The company’s primary product, CloudTV, is a software platform that removes the need for cable operators and other video service providers to create and manage multiple versions of guides for each device.
CloudTV is available on more than 10 million devices. Announced service provider customers include Charter Communications, Cablevision Systems, Comcast, and Time Warner Oceanic in the United States; PCCW in Asia and Ziggo in Europe. Net2TV, a virtual service provider, uses CloudTV to bring its Portico TV service to Philips NetTVs; a Portico launch on Roku players using CloudTV is expected in the near future.
ActiveVideo was the product of a 2006 merger between ICTV and Switched Media, a developer of technologies for the customization of video streams. The company was named ActiveVideo in 2008. ActiveVideo acquired the European company Avinity Systems, B.V., in 2009.
In 2011, ActiveVideo announced its first consumer electronics partner, Funai Electric, manufacturer of Philips NetTVs. More recently, licensing agreements for CloudTV have been effected with Cisco Systems and ARRIS to expand the footprints of their respective Videoscape and DreamGallery user experiences. ActiveVideo also has announced a partnership with Sumitomo Corporation that is intended to drive distribution of CloudTV in Japan and the Asia-Pacific market. Sumitomo is a 50% owner of J:COM, the largest cable system operator in Japan.
CloudTV is designed to enable pay-TV providers to provide “TV as an application” and to deliver their user interfaces to QAM and IP set-tops, Internet-connected TVs, gaming consoles and specialized streaming boxes. Multichannel News notes that “instead of requiring operators to write a different version of the UI for each device, operating system and rendering engine, ActiveVideo’s approach looks to avoid that operational nightmare by requiring that it only be written once, in HTML5, and managed from the cloud.” The analyst firm nScreenMedia cites such advantages as: Compatibility with the widest range of devices; the ability to update an app once and see it reflected on every device; scalability for large and small service providers; and the ability to use the most advanced UI techniques available to ensure high “coolness” factors. ACG Research notes that for cable operators, CloudTV can reduce total cost of ownership by up to 83% when compared to a set-top box replacement program.
In June 2013, ActiveVideo announced that CharterCommunications would become the first pay-TV provider to deploy a full user interface that is streamed entirely from the cloud. Charter EVP of engineering and IT Jim Blackley observed that CloudTV “enhances platform and network scalability, while delivering a balanced architecture on which cloud and client interactions can be optimized.” Blackley noted that early tests of CloudTV had produced “favorable results” and the next step would be an in-market trial. Charter CEO Tom Rutledge had revealed the cloud-centric strategy in March 2013, and reiterated on the company’s Q1 2013 earnings call that a cloud-based UI would give Charter a state-of-the-art UI to compete with over-the-top competitors on both QAM-based legacy boxes and hybrid IP boxes.
Simultaneous to the Charter announcement, ActiveVideo demonstrated how CloudTV could enable Comcast’s next-generation X1 interface – for which Comcast requires a new, high-end STB—on five different devices, including an older digital set-top box, a European STB, a Roku device, an HDMI USB stick and an LG Smart TV. VideoNuze reported that “X1’s graphics were richly displayed and highly responsive to user interactivity. Importantly, the experience was identical across devices, meaning that operators’ multi-device experiences would be completely unified.”
Previously, in December, 2012, Net2TV, a virtual service provider, announced that it was using the CloudTV platform to provide a cloud-based television programming service to Internet-connectedTVs. Designed to package online content into ad-supported TV experiences, Net2TV’s “Portico” service initially included content from such services as CHOW.com, Revision 3, Popular Science and the Wall Street Journal. In May 2013, it was reported that the footprint of the CloudTV client would be expanded to Roku players in conjunction with the pending availability of the Portfolio service on Roku devices. It was noted that the availability of the CloudTV client on Roku players would enable cable MSOs to transfer their UIs to the 5 million-plus Roku devices in U.S. homes.
In September 2012, it was reported that Ziggo, the largest cable operator in the Netherlands, would become the first major European service provider to deliver an advanced video-on-demand (VOD) user interface entirely from the network cloud. In March, 2013, Ziggo became the first operator in the world to provide interactive services such as VOD without built-in hardware. Ziggo launched a multiscreen, multiroom service that provides a consistent look and feel on even the oldest set-tops in its footprint. Within one month of commercial availability,60,000 unique users had registered for the CloudTV-powered service. Ziggo and ActiveVideo estimate that these 60,000 users – approximately 13% of Ziggo’s VOD footprint—have accounted for 30% of all Ziggo VOD activity.
Other examples of CloudTV-powered navigation have included the iO TV Quick Views guide, which was launched in March 2011 and allows consumers to create up to 20 personalized UIs, each of which display up to nine favorite TV channels at once; and Olympics UIs that have offered simultaneous views of multiple channels of Olympics coverage, plus supplemental Opympic content.
ActiveVideo announced in 2012 the availability of a new version of the CloudTV platform, CloudTV H5, that can bring navigation interfaces or applications written in HTML5 to digital set-top boxes or connected CE devices. Enhancements to the CloudTV H5 platform that reduce bandwidth and increase throughput were announced in June 2013. In addition, ActiveVideo introduced a family of thin clients that can deliver consistent user experiences on diverse connected devices.
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- “ActiveVideo upgrades user unterfaces for CloudTV, signs up Charter & Cablevision”. RapidTV News. June 7, 2013
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- “ActiveVideo Moves UI to the Cloud to Unify Guide Experiences”. VideoNuze. June 10, 2013.
- “Cloud-Based Startup Portico Aims to Package Online Video Into TV Experiences”. VideoNuze. December 6, 2012.
- “ActiveVideo Rides The Roku Wave”. Multichannel News. May 30, 2013.
- “Ziggo goes interactive with CloudTV”. Broadband TV News. September 6, 2012.
- “Ziggo takes multiscreen into the cloud”. Broadband TV News. March 8, 2013.
- “ActiveVideo boosts cloud-based Uis”. Cable & Satellite International. June 6, 2013.
- "ActiveVideo Powers Cablevision Interactive Apps". Broadcasting & Cable. May 10, 2010.
- "ActiveVideo enhances Cablevision’s Olympics coverage". CED Magazine. February 12, 2010.
- “ActiveVideo launches CloudTV H5”. Advanced-Television.com. May 22, 2012.
- “AV’s CloudTV platform to deliver TV as an app”. Broadband TV News. June 6, 2013.