Narrowstep, an internet television company based in London, has created an online television service for Telewest Broadband, combining scheduled and on-demand services across a number of virtual channels.
The Blueyonder TV trial service offers free programming from Flextech Television, the content division of Telewest, featuring highlights from the LivingTV, Bravo, Challenge and Trouble channels. In addition, there is specialist sports coverage provided by Narrowstep from their own high.tv channel.
Iolo Jones, chief executive of Narrowstep, says it brings together the impact of television and the accountability of the internet. “The marriage of Telewest Broadband’s unmetered broadband services with Narrowstep technology shows the future for web television.”
“Not only are we developing on-demand services for our digital TV platform, but we’re also able to exploit the potential for video content via the internet, said Eric Tveter, president and chief operating officer at Telewest Broadband. “Only recently has increasing broadband connection speeds and improvements in encoding technology allowed the continuous streaming of such high quality video.”
Telewest Broadband has over 750,000 broadband internet customers, two-thirds of whom take services of 1Mb and above, so the company sees Blueyonder TV as one way to bring the benefits of that extra bandwidth to life.
The service is based on the Narrowstep platform, which it describes as a “Television Operating System”, or a “TV station in a box”. The platform provides a mixture of scheduled, live and on-demand channels that play out around the clock like traditional television channels. In-house producers at Telewest Broadband are able to encode, schedule and play out the service from a web-based management console.
Material is delivered at speeds of up to 1.8Mbps and the service will automatically tailor the speed of delivery to a particular broadband connection. The application launches as a full screen browser and video can be viewed full screen. Viewing can be paused and a three-day programme guide provides an on-demand option, allowing users to select content from anywhere in the schedule.
Telewest Broadband expects the range and depth of content on Blueyonder TV to expand over the coming months and viewers are being asked to give feedback during the ongoing trial.
It seems like something of a coup for Narrowstep to provide the service for the broadband portal of Telewest, one of the two main cable television companies in the UK, and it illustrates the convergence that is taking place between broadband and broadcast models.
Broadband offers broadcasters the potential to offer added value services to their viewers. BSkyB has announced that it will offer broadband movies and sports material to its top tier subscribers from later this year.