Leading German pay-TV operator Premiere has chosen NDS MediaHighway middleware to provide its platform for interactive and on-demand television, combining broadcast and internet delivery in a hybrid set-top box.

The new platform will launch to Premiere subscribers in Germany and Austria from August 2006. It will feature a new NDS MediaHighway based set-top box with an internet return channel, enabling instant interactivity, rather than requiring a slow dial-up connection.

The platform combines the advantages of traditional broadcasting with those of the internet. Premiere says it will build up its range of interactive applications and add-on-services progressively, based on open application standards. The company says it is investing in building and further developing a superior digital infrastructure for the German and Austrian television market.

Dr Georg Kofler, the chief executive of Premiere, said NDS is an ideal partner for establishing their interactive platform. “NDS MediaHighway middleware has proved itself around the world, and is already running on more than 38 million set-top-boxes,” he said. “It is extremely powerful and flexible and covers all the functions that we need, from interactive and add-on services to advanced PVR technology. We are thus gaining a fast and efficient entry into modern, interactive television.”

The adoption of NDS MediaHighway middleware, also used by DIRECTV in America, is a significant win for NDS and a consequent loss for OpenTV, which provides a competing software system used by EchoStar in the United States and notably by BSkyB in the United Kingdom.

It marks a renewed interest in interactive television in the German market, with the potential to move beyond relatively passive interactive services to embrace full broadband interactivity.

“We could not think of a better reference than Premiere for our NDS MediaHighway middleware and hybrid TV solutions,” said Caroline Le Bigot of NDS France. “We are delighted to be working with Premiere as our first large scale customer win in Germany. NDS will be supporting the company now to unlock the opportunities of advanced, interactive television.”