Time Warner Cable taps Digitalsmiths’ technology

Time Warner Cable to use technology from Durham company

dranii@newsobserver.comJanuary 10, 2013 

Durham video technology company Digitalsmiths announced that the nation’s No. 2 cable TV company, Time Warner Cable, is using its sophisticated search capabilities to make it easier for subscribers to find what they want to watch.

Time Warner Cable, which has 500,000 cable TV customers in the Triangle, already has integrated Digitalsmiths’ Seamless Discovery technology into its customer interface for subscribers who watch the video content supplied by Time Warner on a TV or on a mobile device such as a smartphone or an iPad.

Seamless Discovery makes video recommendations to viewers based on their past viewing habits, similar to the suggestions that Netflix makes. Digitalsmiths’ technology also lets viewers know where that content can be found – whether it’s available “on demand” or on a regular cable channel.

Digitalsmiths CEO Ben Weinberger said he couldn’t disclose financial details but that the company’s new deal with Time Warner, announced Thursday, is among its largest to date. He added that sales of Seamless Discovery, which the company officially launched in late 2011, enabled the privately held company to double its revenue last year. He said, based on contracts signed throughout 2012, that revenue is on track to double again this year.

Weinberger declined to disclose specific revenue numbers, but the company previously reported that it generated $4.5 million in revenue in 2011.

Digitalsmiths, which was founded in 1998 and has raised about $30 million in venture capital, has more than 60 full-time employees and more than 30 part-timers. About 75 of its employees are based in Durham.

Weinberger said Digitalsmiths has quietly been working with Time Warner for the past year and recently upped the ante, signing a multiyear contract with the cable giant.

Time Warner’s “TWC TV” app, which allows subscribers to access shows on their mobile devices, already is using Seamless Discovery, Weinberger said.

“Any subscriber can get that, no matter what geography you are in,” Weinberger said.

Time Warner spokesman Rich Ruggiero said of Digitalsmiths’ technology, “The idea that we have expanded the relationship speaks for itself.”

Ruggiero said Time Warner will be further “integrating their technology into what we offer during 2013,” but that it was premature to discuss details, including whether and when it would be available for subscribers in the Triangle and elsewhere as part of their TV setup. Time Warner has more than 12.1 million TV customers nationwide.

“The search and recommendation function is a really important part of the customer experience,” Ruggiero said, “because we offer hundreds of channels. We offer literally thousands of shows on an on-demand basis, and now we’re offering them on multiple platforms.”

Digitalsmiths also announced Thursday that i.TV, the company behind the most popular TV guide available at Apple’s App Store, is using Seamless Discovery.

Weinberger said i.TV’s technology enables users of the new Nintendo Wii U gaming console to watch TV directly through their device. Seamless Discovery is providing search recommendations for those users.

Currently a few dozen corporate customers use Digitalsmiths’ Seamless Discovery technology, but many haven’t been announced, Weinberger said. He added that, collectively, Seamless Discovery is handling more than 1 billion transactions – recommendations and content search – a month.

Weinberger said Seamless Discovery already is by far the company’s biggest revenue generator, outstripping what had been its flagship VideoSense technology, which enables searching videos by actor, line of dialogue, location, genre or product.

Among Digitalsmiths’ customers are Cisco, Warner Bros., Paramount, Turner Sports, the NBA and NASCAR.

Ranii: 919-829-4877

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