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NDS today announced its Service Delivery Platform (SDP), a tool it hopes to help operators enable API interfaces so third party apps can access metadata and content for subscribers. The idea is that an application developer could build an interface that spans multiple sources – including over the top video sources (Netflix / Hulu), social media sites (twitter / facebook), and metadata or review sites (IMDb / Rotten Tomatoes) with service provider offerings for subscribers. SDP aims to solve this by allowing operators to enable subscriber authentication, metadata, and possibly programming links to be transferred via an API to third party application developers.

We have heard a lot of frustration from service providers about the number of platforms required to support – between tablets, mobile devices, internet adaptor boxes, and connected TV / Blu-ray platforms. Third parties could play a part of this solution. Operators have always been reluctant to hand over the user experience, with most arguing this is one key value to their customers. While that argument has started to fall apart with only a few operators moving to 3D and hierarchical user interfaces (away from the traditional programming grid) – while over the top (OTT) sites such as Netflix, Amazon VOD and the like support genre based, and even recommendation based browsing.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts recently spoke of the iPad as a great navigation device, and let on that Comcast had hired a significant number of new software developers (about 100, we believe) to help expand its TV Everywhere platform. It’s still unclear how many of these developers are tied up with their own TV Everywhere platform, and how many will be working on the Xfinity Parker box, which has been built on Intel’s Smart TV (CE4100 / Atom / Sodaville) platform – most likely building their middleware platform and user interface on top of Intel’s basic Linux variant.
For this API to catch on NDS would need to sign on operators and app developers – as well as making it an open standard among multiple backend solution providers. Right now it’s a good idea that may be a little bit ahead of its time. Hopefully NDS will engage some forward-looking operators worldwide to show us what a good idea it is.