Interactive TV News Round-Up (VI): S&T, STV, Capablue, Time Warner Cable, TVNZ, Facebook
--S&T Americas Promotes Two, Hires One
--STV Taps Capablue to Power Broadband VOD Service on Sony PlayStation 3
--Time Warner Cable Featuring Oscar-Nominated Movies on its VOD Platform
--TVNZ Unveils Plans for Facebook-Integrated, Free-to-Air Interactive TV Channel
Because the [itvt] editorial team was busy last week working on the TV of Tomorrow Show 2011, we are covering recent news in round-up/summary form. We anticipate that it will take us a few days to catch up with all the news we plan to cover: so if your company has sent us a press release or briefed us on an announcement, and you don't yet see your news covered in this issue, please bear with us. Our regular daily news coverage will return shortly.
- Strategy & Technology (S&T), a UK-based provider of interactive TV playout systems and middleware, has announced three new appointments to its S&T Americas team. The company has promoted Adrian Fowkes to CTO, Americas and Kate Chaux to director of operations, Americas; and has hired Steven Gravlin as senior sales account manager. Gravlin was previously a sales director at Comcast Media Center and also spent several years in sales at Fox Cable Networks; Fowkes, who will be responsible for defining product architecture and strategy for S&T's cable-industry customers, was previously head of interactive systems at the company; and Chaux was previously business manager for the Americas.
- Scottish terrestrial broadcaster, STV, has launched its free, broadband VOD/catch-up service on Sony PlayStation 3 consoles, using Capablue's Connected platform. Among other things, the PS3 version of the service allows users to personalize its homepage and to access programming recommendations. "The move onto PS3 marks a significant step forward for STV in our STV Anywhere strategy where we seek to make our content available to our audiences whenever and wherever they want it," STV's head of digital, Alistair Brown, said in a prepared statement. "Sony recently reported that there are 4 million PS3 consoles in the UK with 80% connected to the Internet, and we are keen to make our content available to this potential audience. We were impressed with Capablue's plans for Connected and are delighted to be using this system to distribute our content to PS3 games players in Scotland."
- Time Warner Cable has announced that it is using its VOD platform to offer a range of films that have been nominated for Academy Awards this year. A dedicated Awards Season category will be available on the platform's Movies On Demand channel through mid-March, the MSO says, and will offer the following titles: "Inception," "The Kids Are All Right," "Toy Story 3," "Winter's Bone," "How to Train Your Dragon," "Exit through the Gift Shop," "The Town" and "The Social Network."
- New Zealand public broadcaster, TVNZ, has announced a partnership with Facebook that it says will result in "the integration of online social networking with TV content" for its new free-to-air digital channel, Channel U (note: slated to launch March 13th, the channel will offer reality and factual entertainment programming, targeting 15- to 24-year-olds). "Channel U will pull in Facebook profile pictures, comments and polling activity into broadcast providing a more interactive experience for viewers," TVNZ states in its press materials. "The backbone of the U schedule is 'U live,' a hosted block from 4:00PM to 7:00PM daily, featuring chat and commentary driven by a U live Facebook application," TVNZ's head of digital media and channels, Eric Kearley, said in a prepared statement. "Profile pictures, people's comments and polling activity will be automatically pulled through into broadcast. It's the first true technology-driven integration of online social media with television in New Zealand." According to TVNZ, the new channel will also feature various interactive elements in addition to its Facebook integration: "Every night from 8:30PM to 10:30PM, themed programming will cater to a different audience taste," the broadcaster explains in its press materials. "There will be shows for guys, shows for girls, action sports, competitive reality, music shows, and programs about dating and relationships. Some of these slots will be hosted, with interaction driven via chat software on the channel's Web site at tvnz.co.nz/u. And on Sunday nights, viewers get to be the programmers. People can enter a competition to be the U programmer for a month via the channel's Facebook page and Web site. The lucky winner will effectively 'own' the slot, choosing what viewers watch."