Canadian-based cable operator Videotron will begin rolling out a TV channel devoted to multiplatform casual and social gaming that consumers can access online through computers and mobile devices, such as smartphones and Apple's iPad.
The platform, supported by interactive TV developer Zodiac, powers the gaming experiences.
The cable operator, which kicks off the effort later this year, will have an option to integrate targeted advertising across the three screens.
Zodiac CEO Brandon Brown said the deal with Videotron adds about 2 million more subscribers to its services. The initial phase will roll out as a cloud-based platform supporting various devices. Information in profiles, play history and scores will move with consumers from device to device. For example, a player could start playing on their television and finish on a smartphone.
Consumers control the games either through a traditional remote control that comes with Videotron's set-top box or Zodiac's command and control modules, as well as an iPad or iPhone.
About 23.2% of U.S. mobile users played games in 2010, according to comScore. The research firm estimates the number of people in the U.S. this past year that downloaded games to their mobile phone rose 52%, compared with the prior year. By December 2010, only 37% of those who downloaded a game paid a fee for it -- a drop of 17 percentage points from the previous year. This provides another avenue for brands to target ads.
Although Videotron has yet to build in ad serving to the strategy, Zodiac's technology does have the capability to provide full multi-screen convergence -- from games to ads -- taking information from many sources and formats and delivering it to devices.
Cable operators must take into account where this type of strategy fits into their overall content priorities. "It's not simple or easy to implement because it requires a large commitment and time to do it correctly," Brown said. "Even for us, a company experienced in iTV, there are hiccups. Some of our clients have more than tens of millions of subscribers."
Aside from Videotron, Cablevision Systems runs on the package supported by Cisco Systems' set-top box. Cablevision has integrated Zodiac's PowerUp platform in digital set-top boxes across its entire tri-state service area to help differentiate its interactive applications and services, including iO TV shortcuts, search, and dedicated iTV channels.
The system is based on models that plug into the main platform as services are adopted, according to Brown. "There's almost no limit of services on the platform."