Everyone wants in on the EPG business. That’s one of the conclusions I took away from the SCTE Cable Tec-Expo event earlier this month. Even as CE manufacturers are pumping up the volume on connected devices with their own video interfaces, vendors in the cable TV world are pushing a range of solutions that tie the electronic program guide into larger content management systems for pay-TV operators. I talked about Rovi’s TotalGuide EPG a couple weeks back, and there’s Arris’ Moxi guide, but those two are far from the only players in this game. Here’s a sample of three other companies touting their own guide solutions.
Clearleap is perhaps better known in the world of Internet delivery than it is in the cable industry, but the company is rapidly carving out a niche among MSOs. Speaking with CTO John Carlucci at the SCTE event, I learned that Clearleap has a hosted, white-label guide on the market, and that it offers media services to help operators manage, encode and deliver video to connected devices. Clearleap’s solutions are strictly IP-based, but they’re already being used by Verizon for its VOD platform, and Carlucci says the company’s in trials with “four of the top five” operators for its media services. As for the guide specifically, Clearleap’s solution could be a compelling one for tier-2 and tier-3 operators. The service runs on a pay-as-you-go model, and Clearleap is rapidly adding advanced features. The company recently integrated with Great Lakes Data Systems (GLDS) to add options for a-la-carte transactions that are tied back to a subscriber’s monthly cable bill. (Think additional IP content purchases on top of the monthly subscription) Carlucci says social features are on the way. Orbitel, a small cableco out of Arizona, launched the Clearleap/GLDS solution in October to create a branded VOD experience on subscriber Roku boxes.
Motorola showed up with a reference EPG back at the Cable Show in 2010, but that’s as far as the company had ventured into the guide world until this fall. Now, Motorola has its first EPG deployment in the works thanks to its acquisition of the company Dreampark earlier this year. Shaw in Canada is rolling out Motorola’s DreamGallery software, which offers not only a set-top program guide, but also HTML5 tools for coding that guide for delivery across different IP-connected devices. The guide purportedly includes social sharing features along with advanced search and filtering capabilities. I got a quick glance, but not a full demo of the guide in a drive-by of the Motorola booth at SCTE.
EchoStar introduced its own EPG back in June, and in addition to running as a hosted app for tier-2 and tier-3 cable operators, the Aria guide is designed to be combined with EchoStar’s Sling-loaded set-tops. EchoStar has a tough road to hoe in cable land given its satellite TV origins, but the combination of the Aria platform, the Move Networks technology the company acquired in January, and Sling-loaded set-tops, it just might have a chance. An EchoStar exec at SCTE acknowledged the company is already working with BendBroadband, which has plans to deploy the high-powered, IP-capable Arris gateway in the near future.