Virgin extends Liberate contract

By Julian Clover | June 5, 2009

Virgin Media is to maintain its current Liberate middleware through until January 2011, following a new agreement with SeaChange International.

The decision follows recent comments by Virgin Media CEO Neil Berkett that the company was working on a new EPG that would combine on demand services with web-based content.

A glimpse of Virgin’s current thinking was seen at Furturesource’s Driving Digital Content in London this week. Kevin Baughan, director of technical strategy, showed a ‘proof of concept’ drawing in a variety of components to make up the TV experience. “We’re moving away from programme guides and time, giving channels zones in which they can develop a relationship with the viewer.” Baughan showed stills of a guide where channels would have their own areas, directing viewers to linear, on demand and broadband content.

However, logistics and the existing receiver inventory mean that even if Baughan was to receive immediate approval for his plans it would still take several years before they were implemented.

The Liberate middleware has been used by UK cable since the inception of digital TV services and was purchased by SeaChange in 2005.
SeaChange also confirmed a second Virgin contract extension, taking its Media Services VOD content processing agreement through until December 2011. Combined with significant business from US operators Comcast and Verizon it helped give the technology company revenues of $48.9 million (€34.48m). Net income of $1 million delivered SeaChange its seventh consecutive quarter of profitability.