Canal Plus Technologies, the tech arm of Europe’s largest cabler, has crossed shores, entering the U.S. with plans to give interactive TV services WebTV, TiVo Inc. and Replay Networks a run for marketshare.
Canal Plus has located its U.S. offices in Cupertino, Calif., along with a satellite sales office in New York City, hoping to roll out its high-speed interactive TV service Media Highway through a deal with cable operator MediaOne Group.
The service’s software, to be incorporated inside MediaOne’s set-top boxes, will give users the option to digitally record and store programming and access the Internet. The service will also provide electronic program guides, games, interactive advertising, home banking, pay-per-view, live multi-channel programming displays and expanded information on shows.
The recording function, similar to that offered by TiVo and Replay, will only be available in set-top boxes that include a harddrive. Fees for the box or other boxes have not yet been set.
MediaGuard, a separate service, will be incorporated into the boxes to protect user passwords and accounts.
Canal Plus’ interactive TV service is already a hit in Europe, currently installed in over 3 million set-top boxes. It is projected to be in 5 million homes by the end of the year.
Nearly 25 set-top box manufacturers and consumer electronics companies are licensed to deploy MediaHighway, since the service is available as an open access format.
MediaOne, however, plans to test market the service first in Florida next month before rolling out the system across the country possibly as early as next year.
After being acquired by AT&T, MediaOne could reach over 17 million cable subscribers with MediaHighway service once deployed nationally.
MediaOne currently provides basic cable to about 5 million U.S. subscribers. It has been upgrading its cable networks with fiber optics to provide digital cable TV, high-speed Internet, and local telephone services in select U.S. markets.
Canal Plus U.S. Technologies CEO Jean-Marc Racine, chief operating officer Bo Kearns and engineering veep Matt Wong will head the Cupertino office.
Jim Slade, veep of sales, will head the New York office, which has been established as a sales base.