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Charter Lights Up EBIF On 20% Of Set-Tops,Operator Deploys Interactive TV Spec on 1 Million Cisco Set-Tops

Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Todd Spangler

Charter Communications has activated the Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format interactive TV spec for more than 1 million digital set-top boxes, covering nearly all systems that use Cisco Systems set-tops.

That represents about 20% of the MSO's current base of 5.1 million set-tops. St. Louis-based Charter had 3.39 million digital video customers as of the end of the first quarter of 2011, each with an average of 1.51 set-tops.

CableLabs' EBIF specification -- designed to run on even the lowest-powered set-tops currently in use -- forms the basis for the interactive advertising capabilities of Canoe Ventures, the joint venture formed by the six largest U.S. cable operators.

Charter worked with Concurrent Computer and FourthWall Media in the EBIF platform's rollout and validation. FourthWall Media supplied its standards-based, I05-compliant EBIF platform and user agent, and Concurrent provided overall program management and back-end reporting technology.

Originally Charter had set a goal of rolling out EBIF to half its set-top box population by the end of 2010.

"EBIF is driving advanced applications and services that are important to consumers and to Charter," Charter Media president Jim Heneghan said in a statement. "We're pleased to have successfully deployed FourthWall's EBIF platform to our customers with Cisco set-tops and to have achieved this important milestone. Concurrent and FourthWall Media were key to our successful deployment and delivery of a universal platform to advertisers and programmers."

Currently, Canoe and its owners -- including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Cablevision Systems, Charter and Bright House Networks -- have enabled more than 18 million households for EBIF.

Canoe and its programming partners are pushing the venture's first product, the interactive request for information (RFI) solution, which lets viewers request information, samples or coupons from ITV overlays on 30-second network ads using their TV remote control.

Canoe-enabled interactivity is expected to be available this spring on seven national cable networks: Discovery Channel; NBC Universal's Bravo and USA Network; A&E Television Networks' History, Comcast's E! and Style; and Rainbow Media's AMC.