Interactive TV News Round-Up (VII): Tunerfish, Ustream, Warner Bros., Facebook, Weather Channel, YouView

--Social-TV Service, Tunerfish, Launches "Fanning" and "Liking"
--Ustream Launches New Version of its iPhone App
--Warner Bros. to Offer Movies through Facebook
--Weather Channel Uses Nielsen's Media-Sync for New Broadcast-Synchronized iPad App
--YouView Names Alan Sugar Non-Executive Chairman, Replacing Kip Meek

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. Once again, 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 see your news covered in this issue, please bear with us.

  • Comcast-owned social-TV service, Tunerfish, has announced the launch of "fanning" and "liking," as well as a revamped "activity stream." "Starting today, you can now share your passion for your favorite shows, movies, and videos, whenever you want to (not just when you check-in to them)," general manager, John McCrea, wrote on the company's blog. "Whether you love 'Saturday Night Live,' 'The Sound of Music,' or the 'Double Rainbow Song,' show it off with pride by fanning it on Tunerfish. It's fun. It's social. And it will help us help you find more stuff you'll love...Ever see that one of your friends is watching one of your favorite shows or movies? What about when someone posts a really insightful or funny comment? Now you can give them a shout-out by liking their activity. Liking also shares the activity with your followers to spread the love...With the new social gestures comes a revamped approach to displaying it. Go for a swim in the completely revamped activity stream, which gives greater emphasis to your community on Tunerfish. It's now easier than ever to spark or join a conversation." The new features are currently available on Tunerfish's Web site, and are slated to roll out to its iPhone and Android apps in the coming weeks.
  • Live video streaming company, Ustream, contacted [itvt] earlier this week to let us know that it has launched a new version of its iOS (iPhone, iPad and iPod touch) app. According to a Ustream spokesperson, key features of the new app (which is designed for version 4.1 of iOS and newer) include the following: "1) Broadcasting and viewing are now combined in one easy-to-use app. 2) Access an at-a-glance view of your favorite content, including shows from your Ustream Crowds and events that you're attending. 3) Swipe through a Featured carousel that showcases recommended upcoming events on Ustream. 4) Browse show profiles and sign up for alerts and push notifications when shows or events you're following go live. 5) Interact with an audience by issuing a poll or chatting. 6) Invite your friends on Twitter and Facebook to join as you discover events or before you go live." More information on the new app is available on the company's blog.
  • Warner Bros. Digital Distribution has announced that Warner Bros. Entertainment will become the first Hollywood studio to offer movies directly on Facebook. The company says that it will begin testing a service that offers a selection of movies for rental or purchase through Warner Bros. Entertainment's Facebook movie pages. Consumers will be able use Facebook Credits to rent or buy the service's titles. "Starting today, millions of fans who 'Liked' Christopher Nolan's blockbuster film, 'The Dark Knight,' can rent the title through its official Facebook Page (http://www.facebook.com/darkknight)," Warner Bros. Digital Distribution states in its press materials. "Consumers simply click on the 'rent' icon to apply their Facebook Credits, and within seconds they will begin enjoying the film. The cost per rental is 30 Facebook Credits or $3. This offering is presently available only to consumers in the United States. Additional titles will be made available for rental and purchase on a regular basis over the coming months...Fans will have full control over the film while watching it through their Facebook account for up to 48 hours from purchase. They can choose to watch it in full screen, pause the movie, and resume playing it when they log back into Facebook. Consumers will also have full Facebook functionality including the ability to post comments on the movie, interact with friends and update their status."
  • The Weather Channel is using Nielsen's Media-Synch content-recognition technology (which powers a similar app for Disney/ABC's "Grey's Anatomy"--see the article published on itvt.com, February 2nd) to power a free broadcast-synchronized iPad app for its new primetime series, "From the Edge with Peter Lik." The app, dubbed the Peter Lik Companion iPad App, offers supplemental content such as behind-the-scenes video and photos, polls, and social media integration. Paid Content has more.
  • YouView (formerly, Project Canvas)--an initiative that sees 1) the BBC and UK public-service broadcasters, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, 2) UK ISP's, BT and TalkTalk, and 3) UK broadcast transmission company, Arqiva, partnering in order to attempt to develop a common standard and interface for the delivery of online catch-up services such as the BBC iPlayer, the ITV player and 4oD, as well as other Internet-based services (including VOD and interactive TV widgets), to broadband-connected Freeview and Freesat set-top boxes--has appointed Alan Sugar, a high-profile UK businessman who also host's the UK version of the reality show, "The Apprentice," as non-executive chairman, replacing Kip Meek, who joined YouView last July. "Lord Sugar is a veteran of the consumer electronics industry," YouView states in its press materials. "The founder of British electronics company, Amstrad, Lord Sugar successfully established the business as the main manufacturer of Sky Digital interactive boxes in the UK accounting for 75% of sales when it was sold to BSkyB in 2007." Said TalkTalk chairman, Charles Dunstone: "Lord Sugar's experience in delivering set-top box technology to the consumer is unrivalled and we are delighted that he will be with us as we introduce a new, enhanced television experience to homes across the UK. As we move from the development to the delivery stage I can't think of anyone better placed to help bring YouView to market than Lord Sugar." YouView recently conceded that its launch has been delayed until early 2012 (see the article published on itvt.com, February 11th).
North America