News Round-Up (I)
--ActiveVideo Networks Acquires Interactive TV Games Company, TAG Networks
--ActiveVideo Networks Integrates CloudTV Tech with SMiT's CI+ Modules
--ANT Selected by Kathrein for HbbTV Devices
--AT&T Launches U-verse Online Portal
--Bee.tv Launches Direct-to-Consumer Online Service in Private Beta
The [itvt] editorial team is on the road this week, so we are covering most stories in round-up/summary form, and we anticipate that there will be some additional interruptions of our regular news publishing schedule beyond that. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience to our readers.
- Cloud-based interactive TV technology company, ActiveVideo Networks, has announced that it has acquired TAG Networks, an interactive TV games company with which it has worked very closely for some time now. According to the company, the acquisition "extends ActiveVideo's CloudTV development platform to include games development, a growing and profitable entertainment market on both consoles and online"; and the combined entity will leverage "TAG Networks' successful technology platform and content portfolio with ActiveVideo's proven CloudTV platform." Earlier this year, TAG announced that its games-on-demand channel was the stickiest channel on Oceanic Time Warner Cable, according to TNS set-top box data. It also recently announced that it had established an industry record for streaming games density and scalability by supporting 2,000 concurrent MPEG game streams at 1.25Mbps with a single off-the-shelf 1RU dual quad-core server. TAG Networks' management and staff have been relocated to ActiveVideo's headquarters in San Jose. The company's co-founder and CEO, Sangita Verma, becomes president of a new TAG Games unit at ActiveVideo; its co-founder and chief creative officer, Robert Craig, becomes chief creative officer of TAG Games; and its CTO, Cliff Mercer, becomes SVP of engineering at ActiveVideo.
- In other ActiveVideo Networks news: At the ANGA Cable Show in Cologne, the company has announced that it has integrated its flagship CloudTV platform with SMiT's CI+ modules, in order to provide enhanced interactive TV experiences for cable subscribers. According to the company, a demo in its booth at the ANGA show illustrates how "Cloud TV enables operator-branded menuing on CI+-enabled televisions, even without a set-top box, when combined with the Ethernet or WiFi connectivity of the host TV as a return channel." The demo also shows the solution working with ActiveVideo's new iPhone remote control app, the company says.
- Cambridge, UK-based digital TV client software company, ANT, has announced that it has been selected by Kathrein to deploy HbbTV services on the latter's new range of set-top boxes. Kathrein has licensed the ANT Galio HbbTV Platform, a variant of the company's ANT hybrid TV service platform. HbbTV--short for "Hybrid Broadcast Broadband Television"--is a pan-European initiative that was launched last August and that describes its goal as "harmonizing the broadcast and broadband delivery of news, information and entertainment to the end consumer through TV's and set-top boxes with an optional Web connection."
- AT&T has launched U-verse Online, a rebranded and expanded version of its AT&T Entertainment Web site. The site allows any online user to watch streaming TV shows, movies and video clips on the PC and also features account integration (e.g. the ability to manage and schedule DVR recordings) for AT&T U-verse TV customers. Later this year, AT&T says, the site will "offer U-verse TV customers the ability to log in to U-verse Online for access to even more TV content choices and features at no extra charge" (i.e. the site will be used by AT&T in order to implement an authentication-based "TV Everywhere" service). AT&T also plans to launch later this year a mobile app, called U-verse Mobile, that will allow U-verse TV customers to download and watch select shows on WiFi-enabled mobile phones.
- Bee.tv, a Milan-based company that offers a platform which it says allows viewers to choose the TV shows they want to watch by presenting them with a "personal content channel" (note: for more on the company, see the interview with its founder and chairman, Rodolfo Hecht, that was published on itvt.com, June 15th), contacted [itvt] earlier this week to let us know that it has launched in private beta an "OTT, direct-to-consumer online service, which offers personalized TV recommendations for content to watch on TV, the Web, the iPhone and iPad. We are working with the leaders in the digital media, broadcast and online content areas to bring consumers a robust entertainment experience including Apple, YouTube, Tribune Media, Amazon, the broadcast networks, cable companies and online content developers," a company spokesperson told us.