Puerto Rico Social UI helps Liberty Global’s cloud strategy shine at IBC
There’s no telling what pay-TV set-top boxes are capable of when the smart people at Liberty Global and the cloud get together. Whether it's extending the flagship Horizon service, delivering cloud-based VOD interfaces or the way UPC Hungary is bringing apps and a million minutes a day of YouTube viewing to its entire service footprint, virtualizing CPE functionality in the cloud is helping existing STBs muscle in on new, high-value market areas.
So it was no surprise to see one of the Liberty Global family’s most imaginative creations – the “Social Content Navigator” in use at Liberty Puerto Rico – taking top honors in an awards competition at IBC last week. Social Content Navigator’s ability to blend trending information with multiple tiles of live video on a single-tuner STB earned it recognition in the CSI Awards’ “Best Social TV Technology, Service or Application” category.
Social Content Navigator’s origins were rooted in a simple problem: customers often are hesitant to venture outside of a handful of favorite channels, and thus fail to realize the full value of the programming bundle. Liberty Puerto Rico’s goal was to offer a window on community viewing trends, enabling better content discovery and greater social engagement around its video services.
We didn’t get the inside story on the awards judging process, but here’s what impressed the industry execs we met at IBC: Availability on any STB; time to market of <9 months; and two key technology innovations. Liberty Puerto Rico uses continuously-updated real-time program popularity to rank channels, and takes advantage of the CloudTV™ GuideCast platform’s stitching capability to bring up to eight tiles of live video to the screen at once – without the need to invest in eight-tuner STBs.
We’ve talked before about how Liberty Puerto Rico identifies a different 10% of its STBs every night, polls them every five minutes and uses CloudTV to produce UIs that can rank all channels, or groups such as News, Sports or even personalized guides. What’s equally notable, however, is how CloudTV quickly overcame scalability and latency concerns. “Faster in some cases than regular channel surfing through the set-top box,” is how Waldo Hooker, vice president, product & strategy for Liberty Puerto Rico, puts it.
While Social Content Navigator already is boosting content discovery and satisfaction for customers, we see opportunities for greater impact ahead, including: Full deployment across the Liberty Puerto Rico footprint by the end of this year; the potential for use as a marketing tool for premium services; and ultimately the ability to deploy the same concept across other Liberty Global systems.
The beauty of the cloud is this: For customers like Liberty Global, once CloudTV is in up and running at a system, the types of services that can be deployed are limited only by the imagination. And any new service, once developed for one system, quickly and easily can be replicated by others in the Liberty Global family.
So while we’re excited about Liberty Puerto Rico’s recognition last week at IBC, what really has our attention is the innovation that’s yet to come. As Liberty Global flexes its CloudTV biceps, we’re eagerly awaiting the next wave of powerful new services that they will bring to existing STBs.