RealTime IT News

A New 'Traffic Cop' For Digital Streams

Interactive software maker Liberate Technologies is pitching new software products that help cable operators manage what, in some cases, are half-built digital media delivery platforms.

Stung by a big drop in digital broadcasting investments by the cash-crunched cable and satellite industries, the interactive television player is responding with products to help fill delivery gaps.

The San Carlos, Calif.-based company unveiled a new suite of products that it says will help increase consumer satisfaction, lower operational costs, and maximize return on infrastructure investment.

Called Digital Services Automation, the software is built to help cable, satellite, and telecommunications companies create, configure, deliver, and manage a range of digital video, voice, and data services over high-capacity digital networks.

As set-top boxes increasingly become a staging area for delivering video on demand, voice and data services to consumers, Liberate is positioning itself as a middleware "traffic cop" to help manage the digital streams.

By throwing in software that also helps manage call centers, customer service and technical support, Liberate hopes to help cable and satellite operators launch new services that they can actually support.

And it's not stopping there. Liberate also said it would join with entertainment licensing and merchandising company Signatures Network to build new music video delivery systems.

The idea is to give digital television customers new ways to personalize their own music television experience, kind of like personal playlists built from a range of channels and programs.

Signatures Network holds merchandising and marketing rights to more than 125 top music artists and entertainment properties. The two companies said they would team up to make personalization a core feature for delivering music videos to digital television customers.

The service can be deployed on either a subscription video-on-demand basis or via pay-per-view events.

Dell Furano, CEO of Signatures Network, said the new product strikes a balance in offering artists new ways to benefit commercially from their live performances while retaining creative oversight, and gives fans access to a limitless amount of great personalized content.

Liberate president Coleman Sisson said the music industry needs more advanced ways to distribute its vast amount of content, while the on-demand sector needs more programming if it is to deliver on the promise of a multitude of virtual TV channels.

The new products help serve everyone's interests in the creative mix, "from the performers who deserve strong protection of their work, to the cable and satellite operators hungry for new material, to the passionate fans themselves who will be able to freely choose the shows they wish to watch at any given Time," Sisson said.

Liberate is providing demonstrations of its new digital content middleware this week as the Kagan Media interactive TV conference kicks off in New York.

Herve Utheza, vice president of product marketing for Liberate Technologies, describes the new software as a kind of a traffic cop for the multi-media feeds and multiple formats that digital television systems are struggling to sort out.

The release comes as iTV tech companies struggle to withstand a drop in investments as cable and satellite companies put plans for digital systems on hold amid a media recession.