INTERTAINER PREACHES TO THE MASSES

By Wayne Karrfalt

As VOD vendors position themselves to be compatible with as many different set-top boxes as possible, Intertainer Inc. has taken interoperability one step further. Caroline Beck, the company's chief operating officer, proudly describes the broadband content aggregator as agnostic.

"We're agnostic to whichever kind of box you want to watch on, whatever you're most comfortable with," Beck said. "We're agnostic to what kind of pipe we're delivered on, whether it be DSL or cable. And we're agnostic about the platform the service is built on. We build enhancements in house, both HTML and Java-based, based on the distributors choice."

Jonathan Taplin and Richard Baskin founded Intertainer nearly four years ago as an interactive VOD-style content provider that doesn't discriminate among distribution methods. The company has garnered some $47 million in financing from an array of heavyweights such as Comcast Corp., Sony, NBC, Intel, U S General Instrument Corp. and SeaChange International to offer its service to cable companies.

Intertainer has gathered programming from its backers as well as The Disney Channel, ESPN, Warner Bros., and Fox to help build a library of 50,000 hours of aggregated content, 500 hours of which are available at any one time to consumers.

"We think of ourselves as EOD," Beck said, "entertainment on demand. We are the first company to aggregate all kinds of high quality content and attach it to e-commerce." To cable operators like investor Comcast, Intertainer's pitch is more revenue through seamless interactivity and diversity in programming.

"Near Video-on-Demand takes up 10 6 MHz channels to deliver 8 to 10 movies, with buy rates of 1.2 to 1.5 per month," Beck said. "If cable operator is looking to get as much revenue out of the pipe as possible, the only way to do that is use it 24/7 and push beyond just movies on demand."

Though Beck says they are talking to several cable operators, only Comcast is testing the service. The MSO will roll out Intertainer in an unspecified market later this year using the S-A Explorer 2000 digital set-top box and is currently testing the delivery of the service via cable modem.