Cable Operators

Innovation Inspiration

3/26/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

In the past year, cable operators,
programmers and advertisers
have made a tremendous effort
to innovate new products and
services. Some worked — some
didn’t. In all the chaos, one
universal truth has emerged:
The pace of innovation has never
been faster. Below are three
concepts that deserve attention
for their success.

INNOVATIVE OPERATOR:
TIME WARNER CABLE

Time Warner Cable has pushed
innovation across products and
services: Start Over, Look Back
and TV Everywhere. The cable giant
put new twists on video packaging
in 2011, introducing a lower cost
video tier aimed at customers
adversely affected by the economy.
Called TV Essentials, the package
sells for about $30 per month
and includes channels that have
previously been left out of economy
tiers. While TWC does not release
subscriber figures for its programming
tiers, the MSO has said it
is successful. Its influence may
be greater in that it inspired other
MSOs to roll out their own robust
economy video packages.

INNOVATIVE APP: HBO GO

Here’s a simple idea: Give customers
what they want.

HBO has taken instant gratification
to a new level
with HBO Go, its
service that offers
more than 1,400
selections – over
any high-speed Internet
connection,
on PCs, Macs,
iPads, iPhones
and Android
devices. It’s also
available as an
app for Roku settops
and Samsung
TVs, and soon on
Microsoft’s Xbox
360 (depending on provider).

The HBO Go apps and website
feature a clean design, useful
search and personalization tools,
and access to every single episode
of the programmer’s original
series.

HBO launched the initiative
partly to play catch-up to Netflix,
which moved more quickly to enable
multiscreen access to its
subscription service. And it has
taken the premium programmer
more than two years for HBO Go to
become available to nearly all its
customers.
HBO served up an elegant,
easy-to-use suite of applications
that met the so-called over-the-top
threat and then some.

INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY:
SECOND-SCREEN INTERACTIVITY

People with i-gadgets — smartphones
or tablets — frequently use
them while they’re parked in front of
the big-screen TV. That’s a potential
distraction, to be sure, but also a
breathrough to a more powerful and
exciting TV experience.

Comcast was among the first
to recognize the potential for
“second screen” integration with
TV services, introducing a feature
shortly after the iPad first hit the
market in 2010 that not only offered
program information but
also acted as a virtual remote. The
first screen, suddenly, became
smart enough to interact with the
personal devices in your hands.

Since then, with the explosive
popularity of Apple’s iPad and
rapid rise of Android mobile devices,
the link between TV and
ancillary screens has only grown
stronger. Dozens of app developers
and social media services,
ranging from Miso and GetGlue to
Shazam Entertainment and Twitter,
have created new ways for
TV fans to engage more deeply
with their favorites shows. And
advertisers are only now waking
up to the potential of the second
screen.

September