News Round-Up (V): Ensequence, Canoe Ventures, Time Warner Cable, Bright House, Espial, FourthWall, CSG Systems, FreedTV, Google TV
--Ensequence Enabling Interactive TV Advertising for Canoe Ventures, Time Warner Cable, Bright House
--New Version of Espial MediaBase VOD Platform Supports Bandwidth Reservation
--FourthWall Media's Yellow Pages on TV Attracts 200 Advertisers in Three Months
--FourthWall Teams with CSG Systems on EBIF App for Viewing, Paying Cable Bills
--FreedTV's Social TV Platform Approved for Operator Trials
--Google Unveils Initial Line-Up of Google TV Content Partners
--Google TV Round-Up: Jeff Bewkes, Dell, Samsung, YouTube Leanback
Because the [itvt] editorial team is busy working on TVOT NYC Intensive (November 18th in New York City), our new show on the national interactive TV platform and the emerging ITV economy, we are covering recent news in round-up/summary form. We apologize for any inconvenience to our readers.
- Ensequence will today announce that its flagship iTV Manager interactive TV platform is enabling interactivity in national ads for Canoe Ventures and in local ads for Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. "Ensequence has been selected by Canoe Ventures to help build a critical part of their ITV advertising delivery system, which will make national cable network ads interactive," the company states in its press materials. "The system provides the capability to re-version a template with an advertiser's logo, branding, graphics and offer--then schedule and play out the modified template in an advertiser's 30-second spot. The Ensequence iTV platform has launched as part of the Canoe advertising delivery system and has been used to implement interactive advertising in-market. Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks have selected Ensequence to make their local ads interactive and they plan to roll out the Ensequence platform across their entire footprint."
- Espial has announced the availability of version 9.1 of its MediaBase platform. "The newest version of Espial's flagship video-on-demand (VOD) delivery platform, Espial MediaBase 9.1 helps provide improved video quality, extends cable MSO support and dramatically increases storage capacity with COTS technology," the company states in its press materials. "Espial MediaBase is the first VOD platform to implement bandwidth reservation using Resource Reservation Protocol (RSVP). RSVP support allows a VOD session to reserve end-to-end network resources and bandwidth. This provides a guaranteed Quality of Service (QoS) to viewers, which reduces operational costs due to service calls and increases brand perception with improved customer satisfaction."
- FourthWall Media, Puerto Rican cable operator, OneLink Communications, and Puerto Rican Yellow Pages and local search services company, Axesa Servicios de Informacion, have announced that they have secured the 200th advertiser for FourthWall's Yellow Pages on TV application. "Sales of this EBIF interactive television application kicked off in mid-July and are continuing," FourthWall states in its press materials. "All of these Yellow Pages on TV advertisers are running on OneLink Communications' San Juan Metro cable system. Yellow Pages on TV is available to all of OneLink's digital subscribers with a simple push of a button on their Scientific-Atlanta remote. The application from FourthWall Media runs on FourthWall's successful EBIF Platform which has been in place for almost two years. OneLink serves the San Juan Metro area. Axesa, majority owned by Caribe Media, Inc., an affiliate of Local Insight Media Holdings, publishes directories island-wide. Axesa provides the data feed for the Yellow Pages on TV application and began selling this new banner advertising opportunity in mid-July to existing customers. Advertisers can choose between a full feature banner ad and a bold listing. The application allows viewers to retrieve merchant phone numbers, request information, access vendor micro sites and search using keywords. It also has a click-to-call feature. By pushing a button on your remote, the application automatically dials the advertiser number listed as well as your home phone. It also has a bookmark facility which lets you save your favorite merchants for future easy access."
- In other FourthWall Media news: The company said last week that it has signed an agreement with customer interaction management and billing solutions company, CSG Systems, to provide cable operators with an EBIF-based interactive TV application, called Bill Pay on TV, which, as it name implies, will enable subscribers to view and pay their cable bills on TV by following a series of simple on-screen prompts. "Interactive banner advertisements from programmers or others can be included in the application," FourthWall states in its press materials. "An ad for an upcoming program can have a video-on-demand feature that allows the customer to watch the long-form promo and preview the programming. In addition, cable operators will have the ability to send targeted payment messages to subscribers. This feature allows for an operator-written message to appear on screen regardless of channel in designated homes. The message can provide directions on how to make a payment using the cable remote or remind the customer they are not current on their payments." Said FourthWall's EVP and general manager of programming, Patrick Peters: "This service is another core feature of the interactive ecosystem that will bring cable operators cost savings and new revenue. In the coming months we will include additional features, most notably the ability to upgrade service instantly with your remote. We're very excited to add CSG to our growing group of partners with key, foundational offerings that deliver innovations to the cable industry."
- Social TV start-up, FreedTV, has announced that its EBIF-based social TV app has successfully completed Comcast Media Center's lab assessment program and has been approved for operator field trials. "The FreedTV My TV Life interactive television application enables real-time multiplatform connectivity to mainstream television set-top boxes (STB's)," the company states in its press materials. "In association with its Facebook and iPhone applications, the FreedTV Social Television Engine combines the compelling content of broadcast and cable television with the peer-to-peer communication of social networking to create a new connected interactive television experience...Using a cloud-based server and proprietary software, the FreedTV Social Television Engine allows users to quickly find their friends and see what programs they are watching. In addition to identifying their own programming choices, friends form TV rooms use real-time messaging capabilities to share the viewing experience. The Social Television Engine is compatible with all video service providers, content providers, broadcast and cable networks and Internet video sites."
- Google has announced the initial line-up of content partners for its Google TV platform. "Since our announcement, we've been overwhelmed by interest from partners on how they can use the Google TV platform to personalize, monetize and distribute their content in new ways," the company states on its blog. "Most of these partner sites already work with Google TV, but many are choosing to further enhance their premium Web content for viewing on the television. Today, we're excited to announce several of these content partners. 1) Turner Broadcasting has been hard at work optimizing some of their most popular Web sites for viewing on Google TV, including TBS, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, available anytime through Google TV. 2) NBC Universal has collaborated with Google TV to bring CNBC Real-Time, an application that allows you to track your favorite stocks and access news feeds while enjoying the best financial news from CNBC directly on the TV screen. 3) HBO will bring access to hundreds of hours of programming to Google TV with HBO Go. Authenticated subscribers will soon be able to access all of their favorite HBO content on-demand in an enhanced Web site for Google TV. 4) NBA has built NBA Game Time, an application that lets you follow game scores in real-time and catch up on the latest highlights from your favorite team in HD. In addition, we've partnered with some of the leading premium content providers to bring thousands of movie and TV titles, on-demand, directly to your television. Amazon Video On Demand offers access to over 75,000 titles for rental or purchase, and Netflix will offer the ability to instantly watch unlimited movies and TV shows, anytime, streaming directly to the TV. We have also been working with some leading technology and media companies to optimize their content for Google TV, including news sites like The New York Times and USA Today; music sites like Vevo, Pandora and Napster; information networks like Twitter [note: Twitter's official announcement of its Google TV app can be seen here]; and online networks like blip.tv." A video showcasing the various apps available on Google TV is embedded above. Google has also launched a Google TV Web site and a dedicated blog for the new platform.
- In other Google TV news: 1) According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Time Warner CEO and "TV Everywhere" champion, Jeff Bewkes, sees Google TV as an "ally" in his efforts to implement the TV Everywhere distribution model. 2) PC manufacturer, Dell, is considering developing Google TV-powered OTT video devices, according to a report by Agam Shah of IDG News. 3) At the CEDIA Expo last month, Samsung confirmed plans to launch a Google TV device. 4) In time for the launch of Sony's implementation of Google TV, Google-owned YouTube is rolling out the full release of YouTube Leanback, the "10-foot" version of its service. Mashable has more. (Note: See also "Sony Launches Line of Google TV Devices," "Logitech Launches Google TV Device" and "Logitech in Google TV Marketing Partnership with DISH Network" in this issue.)