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DIRECTV, the dominant US based satellite operator with 28 million subscribers throughout the Americas, spelt out its strategy at the IP&TV World Forum in London this week, emphasising the need for a consistent user interface across the whole constellation of platforms and devices. The operator also highlighted the importance of broadband, along with wireless connectivity within the home, to expand the reach of its services.
“We don’t view broadband as competition but complementary, to bring more services to a greater number of customers,” said Henry Derovanessian, Senior VP of Engineering at DIRECTV.
The company is blending Internet based content with premium services for delivery over broadband as well as broadcast TV. “We now offer broadband channels with a lot of premium content, and support YouTube, aggregating content either from our servers or from satellite,” said Derovanessian.
The key to making these blended services work across multiple platforms lies in building a consistent user interface across all devices so that consumers do not have to learn new tricks to access the same service on an iPhone, iPad, PC, and TV, Derovanessian insisted.
Wireless is a key component of the company’s strategy to deliver an expanded portfolio of services including Internet based content to as wide a range of devices as possible. “We move a lot of content now over MoCA (Multimedia over Coax) and shortly will be offering wireless,” he added. MoCA is widely used for distributing content around the home in the US, where many residential buildings are wired with coaxial cable.
DIRECTV has become one of the strongest advocates of the RVU interface, which is being promoted as a common browser based platform for building universal programme guides with consistent look-and-feel. The standard, developed and promoted by the industry body the RVU Alliance, incorporates a new RUI (Remote User Interface) with the existing Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) standards for device interoperability.
The downside of RVU is that it cannot be retrofitted to existing devices, and so will take time to become a significant force as CE (Consumer Electronic) vendors build it in to their products. But DIRECTV is not being deterred, having brought out a black box interim solution for non RVU devices.
“We are now expanding our multi-room concept to media servers to reach non set-tops, including PCs and mobile devices,” Derovanessian told delegates. “For TVs that don’t support RVU technology, we provide a box solution, but that will go away as we get more RVU TVs.”