The way we watch TV and movies is changing dramatically and an Ottawa company is supplying key software to help that happen. There are two major ways to watch: Over the Internet through things like Netflix and Hulu - a market that doubled last year to 45 million viewers - or through traditional cable/satellite systems.

Ottawa's Espial writes the software that ensures you see what you pay for.

Their software is embedded in set-top boxes but they also have a browser to let you surf the net using your connected TV. Plus they handle video-on-demand, for example in hotel rooms.

"The trend line is that consumers want to watch what they want, where and when and with the device they want," says Kirk Edwardson, Espial's marketing chief.

In 2010 Espial's sales rose 9% to top $13 million. The company still has a loss but Edwardson says they're in the key European and Asian markets where this video shift is more active than in North America. Just this week Espial signed a deal with Hitachi of Japan in which the TV maker will install Espial's web video browser on sets bound for the Japanese market. Also this week in London, England, Espial was on the shortlist for the "best service delivery platform" award.  Quite an accomplishment for a firm with just 90 employees competing against the likes of Microsoft and Ericsson. Three months ago investors put another three million dollars into Espial.

Despite the growing debate in Canada over rising Internet fees based on how much you download, Edwardson isn't worried.

"There is too much money at stake here, it will be sorted out. Economics will force a resolution".

Website of the week:
A global movement offering something more than traditional copyright to protect and share creative material on the web.


This Sunday TECH NOW is pre-empted as CTV carries the Juno awards.