BackChannelMedia, Triveni Digital launch interactive TV for broadcasters via cable


This is the first time a local broadcast affiliate has made their content interactive over a cable platform: BackChannelMedia, an interactive television solution provider, and LG Electronic’s Triveni Digital, a DTV broadcasting technology provider, announced that Triveni Digital’s GuideBuilder PSIP metadata management system is interoperable with “Clickable TV,” BackChannelMedia’s end-to-end interactive TV solution. The GuideBuilder system provides mission critical operational capabilities for content providers and network operators including managing PSI and PSIP metadata, critical elements for deploying interactive digital television.
Up to now, BackChannelMedia had been doing technical trials at WCVB-TV Boston, WJAR-TV Providence and other stations. But this announcement takes it a big step further. Madeleine Noland, BackChannelMedia CTO, tells RBR-TVBR: “We were doing over-the-air technical trials. That was up and running at five television stations – boy, we learned a lot. Two major differences between what we’re doing now and what we did then are 1) the trial  worked over the air [not via cable]; and it only worked with special over-the-air set-top boxes that BackchannelMedia created just for the trial. 2) We were not working with EBIF (Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format) at the time. That’s an important distinction when you’re thinking about Triveni Digital. One of the things you can do with Triveni is add data PIDs (Packet Identifiers) into the broadcast stream and you can give them generic labels, i.e. user private data. But if you’re going to have distribution on cable, you must do EBIF so the PIDs must have specific EBIF labels.”
Clickable TV is an EBIF application, the interactive television application standard being adopted by the television industry nationwide. Clickable TV is developed in such a way that it can be adapted and easily scalable to work in various broadcaster and cable operator technology environments.
Noland says Triveni Digital and BackChannelMedia’s cooperative effort during the integration of GuideBuilder and Clickable TV was a great success, as the two companies signal the beginning of a new effort to introduce interactive TV solutions to broadcasters in markets of any size.
BackChannelMedia’s successful launch of Clickable TV took place in Montgomery, AL, with the collaboration of Raycom Media station WSFA and Knology Cable. The system is currently live in homes within the Knology cable system with PID insertion accomplished at WSFA.
Noland also tells us they worked with a number of other vendors in Montgomery for the project – including Harris, Logic Innovations, Digital Broadcast, Triveni and DTV Innovations. “With Triveni, you add the PIDs to your data stream, and it has a drop-down list that allows you to select a descriptor (video, audio, Spanish audio, Nielsen, etc.). Well, in order for EBIF to work, you have to have choices in the drop-down menu for the ETV and EISS PIDs (one for the EBIF app and one for the triggers). And they weren’t there. And there was no customizable thing we could employ. So we went to Triveni and said we need your product to enable broadcasters to add EBIF PIDs into their broadcast stream so that they can participate in interactive TV. And they put it into a product feature release and sent it to WSFA so they could run interactivity.”
“WSFA was very excited to be a part of the development of this new product, and we could not be more pleased with the cooperation and support extended by BackChannelMedia and Triveni Digital,” said Morris Pollock, Chief Engineer at WSFA. “Clickable TV will equip viewers and advertisers across the country with additional features to enhance the television viewing experience.”
“Triveni Digital is focused on enabling broadcasters and other DTV distributors to deploy enhanced content and services to advanced television systems and receivers,” said Ralph Bachofen, VP/Sales and Head of Marketing at Triveni Digital. “We are excited to be collaborating with BackChannelMedia to support operationally efficient delivery of interactive television to the home.”
BackChannelMedia and Triveni Digital are demonstrating that deployment of interactive television is possible not only for cable operators, but local broadcasters as well. Triveni Digital’s GuideBuilder PSIP/SI generation system will be showcased at the company’s booth at the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2010, Oct. 20-22 in New Orleans.