CableLabs® and Canoe Ventures Announce Completion of New EBIF IO6 Specification

Monday, February 8th, 2010 
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EBIF.TV Launches to Support National ETV Development

DENVER — CableLabs® and Canoe Ventures LLC today announced the completion and issuance of the latest EBIF (Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format) specification. This new version (IO6) features functionality developed to meet competitive interactive television market requirements and will widen the range of EBIF-enhanced programming, advertising and applications.

The specifications are announced as CableLabs hosts its annual winter conference, a forum for members to share information on changing technologies, including ITV, and accelerate innovation. Leading cable companies, networks and technology providers will demonstrate new applications being developed and deployed to millions of cable viewers this year.

Canoe Ventures and CableLabs have been working with MSOs to expand the EBIF specification to satisfy emerging business requirements and are coordinating efforts to educate the technical, programming and advertising community about the capabilities of the EBIF platform. Along with focused sessions and demonstrations at CableLabs’ Winter Conference, they have jointly developed and launched a new EBIF resource website – www.ebif.tv – and have planned a series of initiatives throughout the year aimed at increasing programmer and advertiser commitment to launching EBIF-based interactive content with Canoe and its founding cable operators.

EBIF IO6 is the latest version of the CableLabs specification for interactivity that can be implemented on disparate digital set-top boxes deployed by cable operators. EBIF also is part of the OCAP™ (OpenCable™ Application Platform) specification, so EBIF-compliant advertising and programming applications can run on OCAP devices enabled with an EBIF user agent.

EBIF IO6’s key additions are:

  • Support for “unbound” applications, such as TV widgets that enable Caller ID on TV and sports/news tickers, and new customer service and Guide extension applications;
  • Support for time-shifted applications, such as the ability to set recording/reminders via the MSO Guide, and the ability for an EBIF application to understand if the viewer is watching live or time-shifted programming;
  • Support for addressability based on customer or device data stored in the set-top box, which allows an EBIF application to make decisions and alter its behavior based on that data, so it can deliver different ads to different demographic groups, while preserving customers’ privacy.
  • Other IO6 additions include support for animation features, new audio resources, selector widget enhancements, application permissions and resource management for well-behaved applications.

“We are very pleased to see this latest version of the EBIF specification completed and released to the MSOs, Canoe and the rest of the industry,” said Arthur Orduña, Chief Technology Officer of Canoe Ventures. “IO6 adds critical functionality that enriches the value and revenue-generating potential of both bound and unbound iTV applications. This is a significant step in helping us meet our goal of enabling national enhanced and interactive advertising for MSOs, programmers, agencies and advertisers.”

Don Dulchinos, Senior Vice President of Advanced Platforms for CableLabs, said, “EBIF IO6, driven and completed by the CableLabs EBIF Working Group, marks a significant passage in the evolution of enhanced television technology. The original EBIF specification, which was tightly focused on just enhancing linear broadcast programming with simple interactivity, has now been expanded to take advantage of more advanced cable platform capabilities. This creates more opportunities for MSOs, Canoe, content owners and advertisers to develop compelling bound and unbound interactive applications for both national and local audiences.”

“This new release of the EBIF specification is critical to ensuring a continuously expanding and valuable range of interactive television offerings across Comcast’s systems,” said Tony Werner, CTO of Comcast Cable. “We will ensure that our nationwide rollout of EBIF capabilities will comply with EBIF IO6, in order to assure our digital television subscribers will receive the latest features.”

“We strongly support the EBIF standard, and have been awaiting the creation of EBIF IO6, which was developed to meet the market needs of Time Warner Cable and other MSOs,” said Mike LaJoie, CTO of Time Warner Cable. “The rollout of EBIF is a priority for us in 2010, and this latest round of the specification will lead to even more engaging viewing experiences for our customers.”

“Bright House Networks has always been a strong supporter of technical standards in order to realize new services and technologies at scale,” said Nomi Bergman, President of Bright House Networks. “We therefore applaud the continuing evolution of the EBIF standard, which is enabling the cable industry to uniformly offer valuable new enhanced programming and services across our entire digital television footprint.”

“EBIF is critical for enabling truly ubiquitous nationwide iTV, and the new IO6 specification gives developers and operators even more opportunities to bring even more innovative services to consumers,” said Marwan Fawaz, Chief Technology Officer of Charter Communications. “We are firm believers in the value of enhanced television services, and Charter is a strong supporter of the EBIF standard, which we plan to deploy across our markets.”

“Cox continues to work with CableLabs, Canoe and our fellow MSOs on developing critical new technical standards, and was pleased to contribute to the completion of EBIF IO6,” said Scott Hatfield, CTO of Cox Communications. “We are also committed to the launch of EBIF across our systems, and anticipate that the additional capabilities afforded by IO6 will enable enhanced television applications to take advantage of other winning elements of our Cox digital video systems in an integrated manner.”

It is planned that more information about the EIF IO6 specification will be available on the CableLabs website no later than February 26, 2010.