A spokeswoman for the operator explained to Digital Spy:
"Telewest Broadband is now rolling out Liberate 1.2 and other platform enhancements in time for the World Cup. This software enables synchronised linking of interactive content to the TV programme. We are currently in discussions with broadcasters and other content suppliers regarding potential applications and content which will use our enhanced platform to enrich the consumer experience.
"Telewest Broadband customers can access these applications by pressing the red button on their remote control. The first event, which will be enhanced on the Telewest Broadband platform, will be the World Cup on the BBC.
"This technology will enable enhanced TV applications such as html (text) overlays, voting, choice of audio stream (e.g. alternative commentary), multi-streaming video mosaic (choice of video picture)."
A spokesman for the BBC said that the corporation is "...working closely with Telewest and all platform operators to roll out multistream services across all major digital TV platforms," although he did stress that multistreaming capabilities were dependent not only on suitable software but on bandwidth availability. More details should become clear in an announcement from the BBC on Tuesday, May 14th.
Screenshots of the new box software, which has already commenced rollout across the Telewest system, are available in our cable resources area, along with comparision screenshots of the existing software.
The new software changs the way some features of the cable service works. For example, all channels are now accessible via a three digit channel number, and customers are no longer able to re-order their channels. This move, although met with some inital disappointment from members of our forums, is designed to reduce the load placed on customer services when re-ordering of the channel numbers was necessary due to changes involving the EPG system. It will also allow channels to market one channel number across digital platforms, for example, bid-up.tv (in which Telewest's content division, Flextech, has a 38% of the parent company Sit-Up TV), now promotes channel 647 across digital satellite and ntl cable systems. Reducing the number of different channel numbers will assist in channel marketing; although customers of Telewest who have had the ability to order their channels according to their preferences may find it a difficult and unwanted transition over to a standardised system of channel numbering. This system is however already used on Sky's service, and in "original" ntl:home areas - although channel numbers themselves are not always the same. A new favourites system has been implemented, which calls up an on-screen menu.
There are also other changes to the platform.
- All channels are now visible on the guide, but unsubscribed channels are greyed-out
- A new 'mini-guide' replaces the existing 'now and next', with instructions on how to upgrade to unsubscribed channels being provided
- A 'reminder facility is now available, maximum capacity 30
- Channels are now categorised in the 'view by...' or 'find' menus on the new 'tv guide' screen
- The volume control is now functional
- Digital subtitles are available via TV Guide -> Customisation -> Settings
- TV On Demand charges are now implemented at the time of order, regardless if the event is watched
- Pressing 'i' now brings up extended information about a programme
- TV Guide -> Customisation -> Diagnostics now displays extended information needed by customer services in the event of a fault
- PIN services improved, with 'active', 'locked', and 'double locked' showing the status of PIN services - double locked requires a hit from the headend to unlock the box
- TV is viewable through a box in the upper right-hand corner, except in the Two Way TV and I-See TV areas
- Keyboard layout simplified; euro key also included