Next-Gen TV Platforms: Virgin Media-Avinity; NDS-Comstar; BBC HD

imageHowever most people watch TV now, it’s a fair bet they will be watching it in a different way in 12 months’ time. With the Cable Congress set to kick off on Wednesday in Berlin and the IPTV World Forum next week, TV companies will be looking over the technologies on offer and publicising their own platforms. With the iPlayer growing in popularity and the BBC’s Canvas project set to bring affordable IPTV into homes via an open standard set-top box, 2009 could well be a watershed year in the changing viewing habits of UK consumers. Here are a few developments to key on….

Virgin Media: Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) is working with Dutch developer Avinity Systems to bring its RenderCast IPTV platform to customers. The technology will use a web-based set-top box and will allow interactive features such as Flash-based games. Mirroring the BBC’s proposed Canvas project, VMED says Rendercast will give “access to on-demand content over any network”, so although the technology will most likely be tied to a monthly subscription, customers will be able to watch third-party PSB and commercial content as well. Perhaps of even more interest to commercial operators is the multimedia, interactive advertisements offered by Rendercast. Release. More after the jump…

NDS-Comstar-UTS: Another “transformative” IPTV platform is Master UI (MUI) from News Corp-owned NDS, which has been deployed by Russian pay-TV operator Comstar-UTS for its 147,000 subscribers. The system (pictured) offers VOD, games, personalisation and allows users to “move, store and manage content on multiple devices”; NDS claims there is a “seamless” interface between PCs, set-top boxes and mobiles. NDS says MUI allows targeted advertising while also touting it as a suitable product for free-to-air STB manufacturers. Release.

BBC HD: The BBC has increased the daily output of its HD schedule to nine hours. The service will now run from 4pm to between 12.30am and 1.30am, which is the full duration currently allowed by the BBC Trust, as head of HD Danielle Nagler writes in a blog post.

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