Light Reading | October 2, 2018

Evolution Digital LLC is now aiming to bring this must-have to the video arsenals of tier 2/3 cable operators with eMERGE, a platform/user interface that integrates an app-based, IP-delivered version of the pay-TV operator’s service with premium OTT and other digital sources of content. In addition to bringing eMERGE to Android TV-powered boxes that would be managed and distributed by the MSO, it’s also extending access to retail products like Apple TV, Roku players, and iOS and Android mobile devices. (See Evolution Digital Launches ‘eMERGE’ UI for Pay-TV Partners and New Video Options Emerge for Indie Cable Ops .)

And rather that going with a one-size-fits-all approach, Evolution claims its offering will allow the operator to customize the UI and what content is presented on the service “home” screen.

“A frustration [cable operators] have with going to a new UI… is that most options out there are static in their design,” Brent Smith, Evolution’s chief strategy officer, said, adding that eMERGE allows partners to turn some knobs and adjust which content gets surfaced and where it gets surfaced in the UI. “To us, the home screen is where the operator has a sandbox to play with.”

The framework also extends search and discovery across the operator’s video service as well as those coming in via OTT, rather than keeping that OTT content in separate app silos.

“We thought it was necessary to come up with a platform that allows those two worlds to blend together,” he said.

Smith noted that eMERGE is in field trials and is nearing full production status. Evolution isn’t identifying whose on board to roll it out, but some of its existing customers include Mediacom Communications Corp. , WideOpenWest Holdings LLC (WOW) , General Communication Inc. (GCI) (Nasdaq: GNCMA) and TDS Telecom .

Evolution Digital continues to be an advocate of operator tier of Android TV, which gives MSOs a way to complement their pay-TV apps for retail platforms with an option to provide customers an MSO-managed device that boots up to the operator’s experience. (See Vewd Aims to Give Pay-TV Ops More Command & Control of Android TV Boxes and Android TV Arrives With Evolution Digital.)

With a managed device, operators can still deliver and support some features (like transactional VoD) that might not be supported on a retail device due to revenue sharing and other potential business restrictions.

“All platforms are not equal,” Smith said, believing that the Android TV operator tier option gives operators the ability to maintain parity with what they deliver on traditional set-tops, plus the ability to integrate OTT content and wrap it all into one blended interface.

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