US MSO Cablevision has released an upgraded version of its Optimum and Optimum for iPad iOS application, which brings content ratings, recommendations, and a new UI in tow. Originally launched for the iPad in mid 2011, Cablevision's multiscreen service has since brought live TV streaming and on-demand rentals to the entire Apple iOS device ecosystem, and has introduced DVR-scheduling and remote-control functionalities into the native iOS applications.
The update to Cablevision's iOS proposition is significant for two reasons. First, the UI that has been implemented across iPhones and iPads bears significant resemblance to the interface that Cablevision implemented in its downloadable PC-based application, which itself launched in April 2012. Within the wider pay-TV multiscreen landscape, operators have largely struggled to deploy cross-device applications whose UIs exhibit much commonality. This broad lack of commonality, in turn, tends to produce user experiences whose quality varies widely across different devices.
Second, the inclusion of a recommendation engine within the application represents a big step forward for an industry that has been slow to optimize search and content discovery on CE devices. Given that multiscreen business models are coalescing around freely-bundled access to content, operators' ability to drive views and generate multiscreen revenues is something of an open question. In conjunction with a transactional model - rental, for example - optimizing content search-and-selection provides at least one credible avenue for spurring usage, and generating incremental revenues.