Interactive TV News Round-Up (I): 9x9, International BBC iPlayer, BCM
--9x9 Launches Personalizable Interactive Program Guide for Connected TV's
--International Version of BBC iPlayer to Launch This Year, Cost Less than $10 per Month
--BCM Appoints CFO, VP of Engineering
Because the [itvt] editorial team has been busy this 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 couple of 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.
- 9x9, a Silicon Valley-based start-up with offices in Taipei and Beijing, has announced the beta launch of Smart Guide (http://www.9x9.tv), which it bills as the "first personalized interactive program guide for discovering and viewing Web video content on smart TV's, using the same intuitive way people choose and watch TV programs. Smart Guide is organized in a 9x9 grid with 81 channels that users can populate with continuous feeds of video episodes based on their personal interests," the company's press materials continue. "Users can share their Smart Guides with their social community via Facebook...Watching Web videos on a larger screen will lead people to expect a more TV-like discovery and viewing experience, and offerings that combine the Web and TV such as Google TV. Searching for individual videos among the hundreds of thousands of Web videos uploaded daily to the Internet misplaces the burden of finding content on the user and does not provide the means to view videos in a continuous stream. 9x9 simplifies Web video discovery by providing a directory of online video episodes that are neatly organized into channels. Users personalize and fill their own Smart Guide with channels based on their personal interests and lifestyle. The channels can be deleted and exchanged with content from 9x9's directory, which is continually updated by users and content owners adding new RSS or YouTube channel links. With the Smart Guide, flipping between channels is nearly instantaneous, providing a user experience focused on enjoying rather than searching for the content. Through the selected channels, a personal Smart Guide also acts as a profile of a user's interests and lifestyle and can be shared with their social community via Facebook. This adds an important social aspect to video discovery and viewing. People can follow the latest updates to their friends' Smart Guides, as well as create communities and fan pages around their shared programs, channels and preferred content creators."
- In a keynote at the FT Digital Media & Broadcasting conference in London earlier this week, BBC director general, Mark Thompson, said that the long-awaited international version of the BBC iPlayer will cost less than $10 per month and should launch "definitely this year." It is expected to feature both catch-up and archive programming. The Guardian's coverage of Thompson's speech--in which he also called on the UK's government, communications regulator, broadcasters, and mobile phone operators to create a "road map" for mobile TV--can be found here, and the full text of the speech is available here.
- BCM (formerly known as BackChannelMedia)--a company that offers a patent-pending technology called Clickable TV, which allows viewers to forward or "bookmark" information from their TV to a personal Web portal or to their email account--has announced the appointments of Paul Jones as CFO and Doug O'Brien as VP of engineering. Jones, who actually joined BCM last September, previously spent 30 years at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, where he held various positions including VP and controller. O'Brien, who joined the company last month, was previously CIO and CTO of Vivaro Corp., a provider of telecommunications and financial services products. He also worked as an independent IT consultant, providing analysis and process re-engineering for business owners looking for OSS/billing, revenue assurance and telecom expense management solutions, BCM says. "We are thrilled to welcome Paul and Douglas to the BCM team," BCM chairman and CEO, Dan Hassan, said in a prepared statement. "Paul will help us continue to drive the growth of our company by serving as a strong leader to our financial structure. Douglas will draw upon his extensive IT experience to build a strong foundation for rapid deployment, growth and scalability. Overall, these new hires help to signify an invigorated commitment to provide new and valuable enhanced TV products and services to our customers."