Metrological impresses ActiveVideo for legacy LatAm set top rollout 

ActiveVideo, the joint Arris and Charter Communications venture injecting legacy set tops with software for supporting OTT features, has teamed up with Dutch app developer Metrological to expand on its Latin American deployment roadmap. ActiveVideo itself seems to have supplied the UI side of the equation in similar joint product launches and deployments.

Like ActiveVideo’s previous projects, it is supplying its CloudTV virtualization software for retrofitting a new cloud-based VoD UI into older set tops, clearly a step in the direction of full cloud-based TV, and this week it welcomed Metrological’s Application Platform.

We suspect the relationship between ActiveVideo may have blossomed from the recent deployment of Metrological’s Application Platform on Arris set tops at Portuguese operator NOS, impressing Arris by enabling some clever user experiences, enough to win the hand of ActiveVideo – and potentially some major contracts with it.

Metrological has earned its reputation in providing a cloud-based app store for TVs, which can allow a Netflix implementation to happen in months, not years, and for it to appear fully integrated into the UI. It can also bring cloud management into the frame for enhanced personalization, for example if a cloud app notices that you tend to use Netflix at a particular time every night, it can pre-load it in the background, and when you switch to it, it will be instantaneous – rather than taking a frustrating 10 seconds or so to load.

The value lies in enabling operators to deploy OTT content and features even on set tops with limited resources and lacking HTML5 support – extending the reach of new services to customers in markets with less developed network infrastructure.

ActiveVideo’s cloud deployments have not been scaled out in excess of around 1 million homes yet, a number which has been achieved at Chilean operator VTR, part of Liberty Global. Initially these deployments are on quite a low scale due to full UI rendering in the cloud taking up a lot of processing, but what the Metrological Framework can bring to the party is enabling larger scale deployments of the same UI on a further installed base of legacy set tops with less complexity than similar systems.

There is no mention of Zodiac Interactive’s involvement in the latest project, a New York-based multiscreen software supplier which ActiveVideo has been developing a joint system with for the past four years. Just last month ActiveVideo and Zodiac announced an initial customer deployment at Cable Bahamas set to roll out on 250,000 set tops in Q2 next year.

The new joint product from ActiveVideo and Metrological looks on the surface to be an entirely new product, but targeting the exact same markets as the joint ActiveVideo-Zodiac product, so it’s unclear what will come of the clash of interests here.

Zodiac says its software stack supports both QAM and IP devices, using a building block approach, enabling it to get the most out of components inside a range of set tops – “from a shiny new Worldbox to a creaky Motorola DCT 2000.”

Two operators in the Caribbean and Latin America plan to launch the integrated product from ActiveVideo and Metrological some time in 2018. Metrological has some pretty major deployments already at the likes of Comcast and Liberty Global, using its Web Platform for Embedded (WPE browser to render HTML5 apps and third-party services on set tops).

Metrological CEO Jeroen Ghijsen said, “We share a common goal with ActiveVideo to make the implementation and management of rich, integrated user experiences easier and more cost effective. By leveraging the cloud to virtualize CPE functions, we enable operators to quickly deploy and easily manage new OTT services on the millions of set tops that already are in the field.”

ActiveVideo President and CEO Jeff Miller said, “By forging partnerships with complementary technologies, we are exponentially expanding the potential footprint for cloud virtualization. Working with Metrological gives operators a new way to unify the customer experience across their entire CPE footprint, by using cloud-based technology to bring the latest OTT content and applications to their subscribers.”