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Starz Encore, Metabyte Team For Video-On-Demand Services

Fremont, Calif. -- Metabyte Networks Inc. (MNI), developer of Personal TV technologies and services, said it reached a strategic agreement to develop personalized solutions across a host of interactive broadband platforms for the Starz Encore Group.

Metabyte has developed an MbTV "suite of services" that will monitor viewing patterns to enable video hard-drive recorders and other devices to automatically find programs suited to a viewer's personal preferences.

MbTV uses client application software to deliver personalization services such as personal channels, targeted advertising, personalized pay-per-view and targeted t-coupons.

Under the new deal, Starz Encore will look to have Metabyte's MbTV suite of services adapted to its business efforts. "Applications, such as subscription video-on-demand [S-VOD] services in both one-way and two-way digital broadband markets, including those with personal video recorder [PVR] devices, and future t-commerce applications for movie-related programming opportunities, are examples of areas for joint development work contemplated under the deal," the company said.

The MbTV client software program is based on a viewer's habits and enables time-shifted viewing, as well as other interactive television offerings.

"Metabyte Networks' strength in creating technology to enable the personalized delivery of content fits nicely with our research-and-development efforts to deliver specialized broadband services using our first-run, commercial-free movie content," said Tom Wenzel, director of business development for Starz Encore, in an official statement.

Starz Encore is working on a subscription video-on-demand service that enables impulse viewing of Starz Encore movies with full "VCR" functionality for a monthly fee, instead of ordering and paying for movies a la carte.

When Metabyte's MbTV system is embedded in a set-top-box or a hard disk-based video recorder, it automatically builds a profile of a consumer's TV watching tastes, while providing full PVR capabilities, such as record, pause and playback. MbTV is automatic and requires no special input from the consumer other than normal TV watching.

MbTV integrates with the existing infrastructure and is fully portable to all leading interactive TV operating systems and middleware. The MbTV system is said to protect consumers' privacy by maintaining the vast majority of user profile information in the set-box.

Investors in MNI include Thomson Consumer Electronics and hard disk manufacturer Seagate. The company also lists alliances with Microsoft, Nielsen Media, Western Digital and C-Cube.

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