Austar Adds Interactive to Platform
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Austar United Communications has entered into an agreement with Oracle Australia in a bid to drive more subscribers to its regional pay television service.In the first deal of its kind, Oracle will supply its interactive TV platform software, Oracle Media Interactive (OMI), technology expected to provide the basis for true two-way interactivity for Austar's customers. Oracle's technology will add to Austar's existing one-way interactive TV services - weather, games and the Electronic Programme Guide - provided to to 250,000 of its 427,000 customers. New services will include t-mail, home shopping, interactive advertising, interactive channel enhancements with impulse retail shopping, banking and tiered games. "The beauty of Oracle OMI is that, as a total solution, it gives maximum flexibility to develop new services with minimal ongoing capital outlay," said Austar United Broadband's managing director Dana Strong. "Unlike other operators, who have launched interactive television with customised development, we will deploy a fully-supported off-the-shelf Oracle product which enables a fully integrated service with no need for expensive customisation and upgrades," said Ms Strong. "We see interactive television as a major point of differentiation for our service which will fuel additional growth in our Pay-TV subscriber take up," she said. The new agreement comes less than a month after European-based broadband services provider chello announced it would hand almost all of its Australian operations over to its joint venture partner, Austar, after failing to fulfil promises of signing up more than 20,000 users by the end of last year (see story). Austar's share price has taken a battering in recent days over reports of diminishing subscriber figures. The stock was trading at $1.28 by the end of last week, after trading at well over $2 for most of the new year.