TV portals offering local content such as news, weather, local listings of movies and restaurants, and event information will play a key role in helping multichannel video operators retain digital subscribers, predicts Boston, Massachusetts-based research organization, the Yankee Group.

Published Wednesday, its latest report TV Portals: Opening the Door to Interactive Television defines a TV portal as an interactive screen – similar to an online portal – that will lead viewers to interactive content and applications offered by their cable or satellite operator.

“Early deployments of TV portals suggest that they can reduce digital churn,” says Adi Kishore, analyst with the group's Media & Entertainment Strategies unit. “The portal also offers a consistent and familiar interface for viewers, allowing operators to introduce new interactive TV (iTV) applications in the future, while minimizing viewer confusion.”

Among the report’s other key findings …

• The TV portals will help tie together multiple iTV applications as the network operator rolls them out, and new applications will be adopted more easily by subscribers via a familiar interface.

• Network operators should avoid absorbing developmental costs for TV portals. The additional resources spent on developing a unique, customized solution will not be worth the returns. Network operators will be better served by using the vendors in the market that have prefabricated, but flexible, solutions.

• While US operators Insight and Cablevision have already rolled out TV portals on their digital tier, broad deployments across cable operators are unlikely for the next year.

News sources: Daily Research News Online;