Interactive TV News Round-Up (I): Aereo, A+E Networks, AOL, blinkx

--Internet-TV Company, Aereo, Raises $20.5 Million, Adds Barry Diller to its Board
--A+E Networks Launches Facebook Game for "Top Shot"
--AOL Taps blinkx for Video Search, Abandoning its In-House Truveo Platform

Because the [itvt] editorial team has been working on The TV of Tomorrow Show 2012, we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format.

  • Aereo (formerly Bamboom Labs), an Internet-TV company founded by interactive TV industry veteran, Chet Kanojia (who previously founded interactive TV and addressable advertising company, Navic), announced Tuesday that it has secured $20.5 million in a Series-A funding round that was led by IAC and that also saw the participation of previous investors, FirstMark Capital, First Round Capital, High Line Venture Partners, Highland Capital Partners, and various individuals. IAC chairman, Barry Diller, has now joined Aereo's board of directors. "Today, Aereo provides an easy-to-use, proprietary remote antenna and DVR that consumers can use to access network television on Web-enabled devices such as smartphones and tablets, and through Internet-TV solutions such as Apple TV and Roku," the company states in its press materials. "Aereo's members will have access to all of the major networks including CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, CW and PBS, as well as other local channels and will have the ability to store up to 40 hours of programming through their Remote DVR. No cords or cable required...Prospective Aereo members must be New York City residents and may register at aereo.com. Beginning March 14, members will be entitled to a 30-day free trial and the membership fee is $12 per month. Aereo's technology offers a high-quality, high-definition television experience to the consumer and it includes the Internet portability that has become so essential to our lives. Aereo's sleek design and easy-to-use controls provide seamless navigation experience across devices. Aereo also integrates social network capabilities enabling users to share, chat and discuss shows in real time with other Aereo members via Facebook and Twitter." Said Diller: "Aereo is the first potentially transformative technology that has the chance to give people access to broadcast television delivered over the Internet to any device, large or small, they desire. No wires, no new boxes or remotes, portable everywhere there's an Internet connection in the world--truly a revolutionary product." Aereo claims that the fact that its service employs tiny antennas (note: the antennas, which are located in large arrays in Brooklyn, receive OTA signals which are then transcoded for delivery over the Internet to devices such as iPads and iPhones), each of which is dedicated to an individual customer, means that it is not subject to the retransmission laws that apply to pay-TV operators. The company's DVR service has a similar model: providing dedicated storage for each customer, in an effort to avoid violating copyright laws. Multichannel News's Todd Spangler has more.
  • A+E Networks Digital Media on Tuesday unveiled a preview version of a Facebook game it is planning to launch next month, in order to drive interest in the new season of its show, "Top Shot." The game was developed by Fifth Column Games, which also developed a Facebook game for the A+E Networks' show, "Pawn Stars." "Beginning February 14, in a sneak preview of the game, players can see if they have what it takes to become a 'Top Shot,'" the company states in its press materials. "The preview version will consist of a single-player shooting challenge inspired by the show that gives competitors a taste for the complete fast-paced 'Top Shot' target-shooting game...Game Play: Like the contestants on the show, 'Top Shot' players will have to demonstrate their mastery of weapons from all eras of human history. In the 'Daily Contest,' single players are equipped with a high-powered or exotic weapon like a Gatling gun, a cannon, or an anti-tank gun, to test their skills and win rewards that unlock bonuses and bragging rights. Players will then progress through a challenge ladder, facing off against favorite contestants from the show, earning money, new weapons and titles along the way. Players may also challenge their friends in completed events to see who the 'Top Shot' is. Winners will earn bragging rights and additional rewards for their display of skill. Slow Motion Replay: In the spirit of the show, each player's best, most explosive shots will be replayed in slow motion, showcasing their expert marksmanship. These replays may be shared across Facebook to show off the power of the weapons, the skill of the shooter and the fun of blowing stuff up...'Top Shot' is the third social game released by A+E Networks Digital Media, joining its other successful titles including 'Pawn Stars,' and 'Storage Wars.' 'Pawn Stars,' the company's initial foray into social games, recently marked its first anniversary with its most profitable month to date."
  • In a blog posting, Monday, AOL announced that its video search results are now powered by video search company, blinkx, and that the latter will incorporate AOL's video assets into its current index of around 35 million hours of content. blinkx replaces AOL's in-house video-search platform, Truveo, which it acquired back in 2006.
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