News Round-Up

--Boxee in Content Partnerships with TV.com, Blip.TV and Others, Launches "Bookmarklets"
--Comcast's Roberts: EBIF in 13 Million STB's, Cox: tru2way Enabled in 100% of Headends
--DISH Taps NeuLion to Deliver its International Channels OTT
--Dreamer's Blu-TV Interactive TV Service Deployed on OPPO's BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player
--Microsoft's Ballmer: U-verse TV to Be Available on Xbox 360 Later This Year
--Netflix in OTT Partnerships with Funai, Panasonic, Sanyo, Sharp, Toshiba
--Oregan Networks Launches "Onyx Widgetry" App Store
--Sling Media Announces Support for Adobe Flash
--Sonic Solutions in Roxio CinemaNow Partnerships with Nvidia, Toshiba, Lenovo
--Static2358/PlayJam Announces Multiple Distribution Partners for Connected TV Games Service
--New Cloud-Based Release of ZeeVee's Zinc Internet Video Manager Launched

Due to the volume of news generated by last week's Consumer Electronics Show, and because the [itvt] editorial team is busy working on The TV of Tomorrow Show (March 3rd-4th in San Francisco), we are covering a number of stories in this issue in summary form:

  • Boxee has announced 1) the general release of Boxee Beta, as well as new content partnerships with/applications from TV.com, Blip.tv, IGN and the upcoming movie, "The Wolfman"; 2) a new "Bookmarklet" feature that allows users to bookmark videos for later viewing; and 3) more details about the new Boxee Box from D-Link, including that the box is powered by Nvidia's Tegra 2 (T20) platform. In related news: the Boxee Box has won CES's Last Gadget Standing contest, beating out Plastic Logic's Que e-Reader and the Intel Reader.
  • At a Citi investor event last week, Comcast CEO, Brian Roberts, announced that the MSO has deployed EBIF technology in 13 million set-top boxes, representing the vast majority of its digital cable footprint. MediaPost's David Goetzl has more. Meanwhile, Cable Digital News's Jeff Baumgartner reports that the major US MSO's appear to finally be making some headway on the task of enabling their headends with tru2way: Cox, for example, claims to have deployed tru2way support in 100% of its headends.
  • DISH Network has announced a multi-year partnership with broadband video service provider, NeuLion, to distribute certain of its international channels over NeuLion's service. "As the leading multichannel video provider of international channels in the US, we are excited to enhance our nationwide distribution of international content to include IPTV," Chris Kuelling, DISH Network's VP of international programming, said in a prepared statement. "We know some of our customers prefer to watch their favorite channels via satellite and others prefer broadband delivery, and we are pleased that we can now offer a solution that fits their specific needs."
  • Dreamer has announced that Blu-ray disc player manufacturer, OPPO Digital, is offering its Blu-TV interactive TV service on its OPPO BDP-83 model. "To activate the Blu-TV service, OPPO BDP-83 users simply perform a firmware update from the device menu," Dreamer says in its press materials. "At the initial introduction of the service, the Blu-TV channel will feature nearly 20 casual games ranging from classics such as chess, Sudoku and solitaire, as well as modern arcade favorites, a collage channel that displays movie art, and five widgets offering features such as worldwide time display, unit conversions and weather. In support of an open and collaborative application development community, Dreamer will make the Blu-TV software development kit (SDK) available in the coming months to allow anyone to create apps for the Blu-TV channel."
  • During a pre-CES keynote, Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, revealed that subscribers to AT&T's Microsoft Mediaroom-powered IPTV service, U-verse TV, will be able to access that service on their Xbox 360 games consoles later this year. In related news: AT&T has announced "a major initiative to expand the universe of mobile applications beyond smartphones to more mobile phones--and spur future app development for emerging consumer electronics devices, its U-verse TV platform, and enterprise and small business workplaces."
  • Netflix has announced partnerships with five consumer electronics companies that it says will launch Netflix-ready digital TV sets or Blu-ray disc players later this year: Funai (which distributes the Philips, Magnavox, Sylvania and Emerson brands in the US), Panasonic, Sanyo, Sharp and Toshiba.
  • Oregan Networks has announced Onyx Widgetry, an app store for connected TV's and hybrid set-top boxes that use its Onyx browser. According to the company, the widget store will launch in the UK in March, with subsequent launches planned for continental Europe, the US and Latin America. "Along with default widgets, such as Twitter, weather, sports, and news, created by Oregan, which come pre-installed with Onyx, there will be two additional sources for new applications," the company says in its press materials. "Widgets created by TV brands and retailers that utilize Onyx on connected TV's [and] widgets created by content service partners and the open Web development community, based on the W3C Widget standard. Oregan will offer an SDK to developers through its Web site in March 2010, which will allow for quick submission of new widget applications. Onyx Widgetry will offer a mix of free and paid widgets, with pricing expected to vary depending on the application and service business model. Developers will be able to join a developer network for a small fee, to benefit from guidelines and technical support."
  • EchoStar's Sling Media has announced a partnership with Adobe to support Adobe Flash. The company says that the partnership will see it supporting Adobe Flash Player and Flash streaming protocols in the Slingbox Pro-HD and Slingbox Solo. "Now, any Internet-connected device that includes Adobe Flash Player 10 or is Adobe Flash-enabled will be able run the SlingPlayer application, such as media players, PC's, gaming consoles and mobile devices," the company says in its press materials. "The industry-wide adoption of Adobe Flash Player ensures that, as these devices and operating systems evolve, SlingPlayer will run on the widest possible set of platforms."
  • Sonic Solutions has announced the availability of its Roxio CinemaNow service on 1) Nvidia's Tegra mobile Web processor, 2) on Toshiba's new Cell TV's and the latest line of its Blu-ray disc players, and 3) on Lenovo's new Skylight smartbook.
  • Static2358's interactive TV games service, PlayJam, has announced distribution deals for the launch of its new connected TV games service on Sony Bravia HDTV's, the Apple iPhone, UPC, Dish India, Rovi, and Freeview, among others (note: the company has also launched a widget for Samsung's Internet@TV platform-see article in this issue). "Working at the forefront of the Internet-enabled TV era, PlayJam has developed a series of TV widgets that will be available on Sony Bravia Internet Widget enabled HDTV's," the company says in its press materials. "New carriage deals have been secured with UPC to distribute a PlayJam-branded channel across its European network of 5 million plus digital cable customers as well as to supply games to Dish India's subscribers. PlayJam is also working with Rovi to incorporate dedicated games channels into their interactive program guides for their client base of service providers, online retailer portals and consumer electronics manufacturers. Exploiting the mobile gaming audience, PlayJam has adapted some of its popular titles for Apple's iPhone and is delivering its service to other mobile phone devices via Anti Labs' game player. PlayJam's sister company Electra Entertainment will be partnering with UK retailers to distribute its groundbreaking interactive technology via a range of Freeview devices. Through Channel Zero, rich interactive entertainment from top media brands will be delivered to Freeview viewers including PlayJam."
  • ZeeVee has announced the Beta 5 release of its Zinc Internet video manager. According to the company, Zinc is now hosted in the cloud: "The ability to access Zinc via the cloud is significant for our users as they often times are not at their PC but still want to watch their favorite Internet videos from a different device when they have free time," ZeeVee CEO, Vic Odryna, said in a prepared statement. "This release of Zinc gives them that flexibility and a continuous on-ramp to their preferred Internet TV shows." Other new features, according to the company, include a "favorites" tool that lets users bookmark shows and videos, and a "queue" feature that helps users manage what they will watch next. Zinc Beta 5 also includes a new Zinc TV Widget, powered by the Yahoo! Widget Engine.

 

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