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Cable Channel To Allow Video, Photo Sharing

Time Warner Cable subscribers in Hawaii are the first to test the service, with other states, such as New York and California, to roll out soon.

Simple Star Inc. and Time Warner Cable are testing photo and video sharing over a dedicated digital cable channel.

Time Warner Cable subscribers in Hawaii are the first to test the service, with other states, such as New York and California, to roll out soon, said Simple Star Manager Lynn Bruni.

"People are creating cooking and other types of shows," Bruni said. "All the content created and uploaded to the site can be viewed by anyone who can access channel 917, a local channel in Hawaii."

Bruni demonstrated a live feed through a Slingbox, which that lets people watch TV on their computer, from the Hawaii test location at DEMOfall 2006 in San Diego. The video she created and uploaded in minutes showed portions of the conference.

"We are seeing more competing services with video mashup," said Laura Martin, senior media analyst with Soleil Securities. "This service is cool because it competes against the satellite guys."

Martin said each cable provider focuses on one innovative service, while watching the others.

Oppenheimer & Co. media analyst Thomas Eagan agrees, explaining Comcast, for example, focuses on video on demand (VOD); and Cablevision, network digital video recorders.

Rather than having DVR functions in the set-top box, Cablevision would put the features in the server on the network. It allows operators to roll out the service to subscribers more quickly, Eagan said.

"Time Warner also is experimenting with a service that allow customers who catch the last minutes of a television show go back and watch the entire show," Eagan said. "Agreements with content providers let subscribers watch the show after the scheduled time. Apparently, you can't fast forward through the content."

In Time Warner Cable's video mashup service, customers upload photos and videos to Simple Star's Web site, where they can add special effects, captions, titles and music. Content also is available from Kodak, Shutterfly, Snapfish, and others. Music is available, too.

PhotoShow creates the content in Flash. Simple Star sends the XML data to Time Warner's servers, which renders subscribers' shows. With a click, the content and e-mail are sent to the cable provider to review before the media posts on TV.

There are several categories from which views can choose. They are similar to a pay-per-view or on-demand services. Bruni said Simple Star is talking with other cable operators, too.

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