Cable Operators

TWC, Navic Extend Interactive TV Terrain

3/27/2005 7:00 PM Eastern

Time Warner Cable systems are quietly rolling out new interactive-TV services that allow subscribers to pay their bill or add programming with the click of a remote, as well as view interactive advertising or participate in polls.

An expanded agreement with Navic Networks will see about one-third of Time Warner systems nationwide use Navic’s HyperGate data transport technology and platform, enabling the ITV services.

Navic made a name for itself in 2002 by helping Time Warner’s Oceanic Cable division in Hawaii build a “Pizza On Demand” application, which has since been expanded to a full food court that allows customers to place delivery orders from several restaurants with the click of a remote.

Time Warner senior vice president Patricia Armstrong said the Pizza On Demand idea could transfer to systems in the lower 48 states, but that “isn’t on anybody’s calendar this year.”

Armstrong — who is also helping develop Time Warner’s upcoming Digital Navigator interactive program guide — said Navic is working with the MSO’s navigation group to enable customers to view and pay bills or add programming services via remote.

In addition to Hawaii, Time Warner has rolled out Navic technology in Albany, N.Y., and four other markets that Armstrong wouldn’t name.

Navic CEO Frank Anthony said his company’s products are in front of 2.5 million digital cable customers, including systems owned by Time Warner, Cox Communications Inc. and other MSOs he said he couldn’t disclose.

Navic also supplies its ITV technology to EchoStar Communications Corp.

Cox systems in Arizona used Navic last year to run interactive polls after the final presidential debate at Arizona State University. Subscribers could respond to questions with their remotes, including who they’d vote for.

The addressable advertising application Time Warner is obtaining from Navic allows viewers to interact with an ad and request more information from an advertiser. Subscribers could also take a car on a virtual test drive while watching an ad from the automaker.

Time Warner Hawaii has also used Navic to monitor subscriber viewing habits by establishing a panel of 1,000 homes it uses to display the most popular programs being viewed by subscribers at any given time.

Armstrong said Time Warner can set up similar panels on other systems. ITV applications that rely on voice recognition technology also are under consideration, but it’s too early to say whether Navic technology would be involved.

September