TEAMS UP WITH MICROSOFT
Jonathan Taplin, president and co-CEO of Intertainer Inc., is not shy
or reserved when it comes to his portrayal of his company's role in
the video-on-demand sector.
are the Rolls-Royce of what VOD is all about," Taplin said. "We are
an entertainment-on-demand system and a VOD-service provider. We are
in both the cable and DSL [digital subscriber line] spaces."
said most VOD vendors -- including what he describes as Intertainer's
only true competition, Diva Systems Corp. -- are tied to specific hardware
should have the flexibility to move ahead with the least-cost and most-efficient
server. We are already working with SeaChange International [Inc.] and
Concurrent [Computer Corp.]. We provide them with content, interfaces
and applications," he added.
He characterized Intertainer as easy to implement and agnostic as far
as operating systems and VOD platforms are concerned. Intertainer includes
a HyperText Markup Language or "P-Java" implementation, depending upon
the capabilities of the device in the home.
set up a database that can speak to any platform. The database is contained
on a single database server-controller, which can run both an MPEG [Motion
Picture Expert Group] server and an IP [Internet protocol] server simultaneously.
This way, operators can run VOD streams to TVs and IP content to cable-modem
customers off a single system," Taplin said.
last year, Intertainer began a test with Comcast Corp. in Willow Grove,
Pa., using a "MediaHawk" VOD System from Concurrent -- one of two tests
under way at Comcast involving Concurrent's MediaHawk solution.
total of three separate VOD trials are under way at Comcast, including
one using a SeaChange "ITV System" with MediaCluster server technology.
indicated that Intertainer "will hold set-top trials with Concurrent
later this year in several markets."
the National Show, Intertainer will show Motorola Broadband Communications
Sector "DCT-5000" boxes running on Microsoft Corp.'s "Microsoft TV"
platform, as well as "DCT-2000s" and Scientific-Atlanta Inc. "Explorer
will set the high bar on what VOD should be," Taplin said. "With the
investment from Microsoft earlier this year, a new wave of software
and skills come into the cable industry."
its stake in Intertainer, Microsoft joined Comcast, Intel Corp., NBC,
Sony Corp. and others. Among other things, Intertainer has now developed
a digital rights-management security system with Microsoft, according
to Taplin, while Comcast remains one of the quieter MSOs as far as what
is unfolding with respect to VOD.
Executive vice president of sales, marketing and customer service David
Watson said Comcast has not pinned things down yet, and an evaluation
of the capital intensity of and consumer demand for VOD was under way.
is right at the top of our list, but we are still gathering information,"
he said. "We are looking at how customers use VOD and when they access
VOD services. We want to know, among other things, if VOD is bursty
in nature with customers logging on all at once, or is VOD-relayed activity
dispersed throughout the day."
Taplin's biggest complaint about the cable industry in general is the
painfully slow innovation cycle. "In the PC industry, you encounter
constant innovation, or six-month cycles, at best. In the cable industry,
innovation comes in three-year cycles," he lamented.