The National Cable Television Cooperative said yesterday that it is in discussions with a new player in the market about a video delivery platform designed to handle Internet video content as well as live and on-demand TV. The platform comes from WebTuner and includes a device that takes the place of a set-top box, plugging into an electrical socket and connecting to a television via an HDMI cable.
“We’re very focused on them and they’re very focused on us,” said WebTuner CEO Bernee Strom about the NCTC in an interview. WebTuner also is talking with larger cable and phone companies, as well as Internet service providers, about the new offering, Strom said.
The WebTuner platform, announced yesterday, aims to give video providers the ability to evolve their technology and business models to encompass over-the-top Internet-delivered content as well as traditional cable fare, Strom said. Backend services provided by WebTuner will support video service providers’ traditional ad and revenue models and will also support new capabilities such as hyper-targeted advertising and interactive advertising.
As a short WebTuner video explains, viewers will see a green star in the corner of their screen when an interactive option – such as the ability to request a coupon for a discount on a product or service — is available. Viewers can click on the green star to have the coupon sent to their smartphone or emailed to them.
The WebTuner device is designed to receive all content in encrypted IP format over the Internet, Strom said. “It’s really a very powerful computer,” she added.
The platform also can send content to mobile devices with a “uniform interface across all devices,” WebTuner said.
If desired, video providers can purchase only the portions of the WebTuner platform that they require. For example a provider with its own back office system could purchase only the set-top box replacement device.
Strom touted the advanced program guide that is part of the WebTuner offering. That guide, she said, was developed by the company and has “the three things that every modern guide has to have.”
Those three things, Strom said, are personalization, search and recommendation. Using the personalization capability, each family member can enable shortcuts to their favorite programming, the WebTuner video explains. And the search function gives viewers the ability to search for content from traditional cable sources as well as from the Internet.
One side of the WebTuner remote control has the seven buttons traditionally found on remote controls. The other side has a QWERTY keypad. The platform also has Bluetooth capability, enabling users to control it using any Bluetooth keyboard, Strom said.
Strom declined to reveal the pricing on WebTuner but said the set-top box replacement device would be “consumer price-friendly” and would cost “more than Chromecast and less than a set-top box.”
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