Liberty Global has outlined plans at the IBC trade show in Amsterdam for its new Horizon platform for internet protocol video services. The company has chosen Kit Digital to design, build and host the platform, while thePlaform will provide the video content management system. Horizon will also use a widget framework from Metrological to support interactive apps, with a software development kit to enable third parties to develop applications. The Horizon service is planned for launch in the Netherlands in the first quarter of 2012 and will then be rolled out to other countries in the Liberty Global footprint.
Horizon is described as a media and entertainment platform for the home, which seamlessly integrates cable, web and personal media. Using a simple and intuitive interface and a powerful recommendation engine, consumers will be able to share and view media on multiple screens wirelessly throughout the home and beyond.
The user experience was demonstrated at IBC in Amsterdam by Mike Fries, the chief executive of Liberty Global. “With Horizon we’re reinventing television,” he said. “In essence this brings together cable and the internet platform, with an amazing user interface.”
Horizon will use a multimedia gateway that will connect television to computers, tablets and smartphones. Supported by search and recommendation features, it will integrate access to personal media including photos, music and movies, stored in the home or in the cloud. Horizon will also allow customers to take their entertainment experience outside the home. Applications have been developed for smartphones and table devices, as well as web browsers, that will enable complementary experience on different devices both in an out of the home.
Horizon is currently in field trials in the Netherlands and later in the year will move to consumer trials, with a view to a commercial launch in the first quarter of 2012. The Horizon service on UPC in the Netherlands will be followed by UPC Cablecom in Switzerland and Unitymedia in Germany.
The multimedia home gateway is from Samsung, based on an Intel Atom CE Media Processor. The middleware and the user experience will be provided by NDS. Nagravision will provide the conditional access solution through Nagra Media Access. The DLNA Digital Living Network Alliance will be supported, together with the MoCA Multimedia over Coax Alliance standard, as well as WiFi wireless networking.
The platform to support the television experience on computers, tablets and smartphones will be provided by Kit Digital, which recently acquired digital media systems integrator ioko. Comcast subsidiary thePlatform will contribute its mpx video content management system.
Scott Sahadi, chief strategy officer at Kit Digital, said: “Through creating a best of breed and future-proof service, Liberty Global is capitalizing on opportunities to boost customer retention rates and allow content partners to expand their reach through new channels.”
Ian Blaine, the chief executive of thePlatform, added: “Our role is to simplify the back-end complexity of online video management, enabling Liberty Global to bring new and innovative video services to market in an efficient and scalable way.”
Horizon is an ambitious project to develop a next generation video experience, bringing together some highly experienced partners. Even so, integrating so many moving parts into a seamless user experience will no doubt represent a considerable challenge.