Unified Communications

Cracking the Multi-Screen Entertainment Nut

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  October 01, 2011

This kind of thing has been talked about for at least a decade. The specific offering has been rumored for a year. And this quarter it’s expected to become reality. I’m referring here to DirecTV (News - Alert) Nomad.

A year ago this month media outlets reported that the DBS outfit had trademarked the Nomad name after having used the same term in surveys to describe the ability of users to view TV content across their various television, computer and mobile device screens.

During DirecTV’s second-quarter conference call this year, the company’s leader, Michael White, said Nomad would launch in the fourth quarter. That’s according to a PC Magazine report, which said the product will allow customers to port content from a DVR to an Apple (News - Alert) iPad.

Questioned about DirecTV’s interest in buying Hulu, White reportedly responded: "We have consistently said that we want to make sure that we can make DIRECTV available anytime and anywhere our customers want it. The Hulu (News - Alert) software has some nice aspects to it, but you also have to kind of form a judgment about its business model and what you think that business model can generate. So, we look at a lot of things here and we'll see as we go through that process where we come out. But I think what we're looking for is … something … that would enable us to accelerate our TV everywhere, but obviously I'd say it's critically dependent on the distribution relationships that it has in the contracts that underpin that."

That “something” would seem to be Nomad.

The technology behind Nomad comes courtesy of Morega Systems, Philip Poulidis, president, founder and CEO of the company, told INTERNET TELEPHONY in a mid-August interview. “That’s us, we’re behind that entire solution,” he commented.

Morega is a four-and-a-half-year-old company established to enable the movement of video across different platforms and screens, Poulidis explained. Service providers have long talked about three-screen strategies, of course, but content ownership and measurement concerns always seem to get in the way. (Viacom (News - Alert) already has sued Cablevision and Time Warner Cable for making available its content, including programming from MTV and Nickelodeon, over the iPad.) However, Morega believes it has cracked that nut by addressing the concerns of content owners and aggregators.

Poulidis says one of Viacom’s concerns with the cablecos’ iPad efforts is that it can’t measure to what extent its content is viewed on those devices. And that impedes Viacom’s ability to accurately price and sell advertising slots. Shuttling content between devices also sometimes involves dropping advertisements or rendering them unviewable.

To address all that, Morega created an end-to-end content distribution system that allows users to get any content that’s delivered to their set-top boxes on their iPads and/or Android (News - Alert) devices. The Morega solution preserves advertisements in the process. And it offers the ability for service providers like cablecos, telcos and DBS outfits to provide their content partners with metrics on consumption, such as what content was viewed on which devices, when, and (if the end user allows for location identification) where.

“For the consumer, it’s a huge step forward in allowing them to free their content that’s currently tied to the set-top box,” Poulidis says. “It gives them a lot more freedom in how they can see the content.”

Morega has been engaged in trials with two major U.S. MSOs for a couple of years, Poulidis says, so other service providers could be launching soon. Morega also is working with network-attached storage outfits, and set-top box and TV manufacturers. The company’s software is embedded in the sets of a large TV manufacturer in China today.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi