Technology

Zodiac PowerUp 2.5 Enables Interaction between Cable Set-Tops and Mobile and Internet Devices

Interactive TV software developer, Zodiac Interactive (note: the company's EBIF user agent is being deployed by MSO Cablevision--see the article published on itvt.com, November 5th), on Monday unveiled the latest version (2.5) of its PowerUp ITV framework, a cross-platform software that the company bills as unifying and enabling advanced interactive TV applications across multiple set-tops, including legacy boxes.

Ooyala, NTT Smartconnect Partner to Sell Co-Branded Broadband Video Platform in Japan

Broadband video platform provider, Ooyala, will today announce that it has entered into a partnership with NTT Smartconnect--a subsidiary of Asia's largest telco, NTT Holdings--to sell a localized, co-branded version of its flagship Backlot video platform in Japan.

Sky News iPhone/iPod touch App Surpasses 1 Million Downloads

Sky News said Monday that its iPhone/iPod touch application has been downloaded over a million times since its launch last May. The UK satellite TV operator's news arm also announced Monday that it is launching a new mobile Internet service. (Note: Last week, Sky News also announced the launch of an interactive TV widget for the Yahoo! Widget Engine--see the article published on itvt.com, January 11th.)

SeaChange to Acquire VividLogic

--VividLogic's Offerings Include tru2way, MHP and Wireless Gateway Solutions

VOD technology provider, SeaChange International, announced last week that it has entered into a binding agreement to acquire all the outstanding shares of VividLogic, a privately owned, California-based provider of software and services to cable operators, set-top box manufacturers and consumer electronics suppliers, whose competitors include Alticast, ADB's Osmosys and enableTV. According to SeaChange, VividLogic's software products include tru2way, MHP and Globally Executable MHP (GEM)-based IPTV operability for set-top box and CE manufacturers, in-home content protection and funded software development for the creation of service provider-sponsored home media gateways.

HSN, Oberon Media, Static2358 (PlayJam), Muzu.tv Announce Widgets for Samsung's Internet@TV

A number of companies last week announced plans to offer interactive TV applications on supported Samsung HDTV's, Blu-ray players and Home Theater Systems through Samsung's recently updated Internet@TV over-the-top (OTT) platform, and its newly announced Samsung Apps app store service (note: for more on the latter, see the article published on itvt.com, January 7th). They include:

News Round-Up

--Boxee in Content Partnerships with TV.com, Blip.TV and Others, Launches "Bookmarklets"
--Comcast's Roberts: EBIF in 13 Million STB's, Cox: tru2way Enabled in 100% of Headends
--DISH Taps NeuLion to Deliver its International Channels OTT
--Dreamer's Blu-TV Interactive TV Service Deployed on OPPO's BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player
--Microsoft's Ballmer: U-verse TV to Be Available on Xbox 360 Later This Year
--Netflix in OTT Partnerships with Funai, Panasonic, Sanyo, Sharp, Toshiba
--Oregan Networks Launches "Onyx Widgetry" App Store
--Sling Media Announces Support for Adobe Flash
--Sonic Solutions in Roxio CinemaNow Partnerships with Nvidia, Toshiba, Lenovo
--Static2358/PlayJam Announces Multiple Distribution Partners for Connected TV Games Service
--New Cloud-Based Release of ZeeVee's Zinc Internet Video Manager Launched

Due to the volume of news generated by last week's Consumer Electronics Show, and because the [itvt] editorial team is busy working on The TV of Tomorrow Show (March 3rd-4th in San Francisco), we are covering a number of stories in this issue in summary form:

Showtime Networks, Betfair Launch Interactive TV Widgets

--Both Widgets Designed for Connected TV Sets Running Yahoo! TV Widget Platform

Premium programmer, Showtime Networks, on Wednesday announced the launch of the Showtime TV Widget, an interactive TV application designed for Internet-connected TV sets running the Yahoo! TV Widget Engine platform. According to the company, the new widget will provide viewers with interactive TV services, free sample episodes of Showtime original series season premieres, behind-the-scenes video features, "value-added content," and other "insider extras," via their connected TV's. "With the launch of the Showtime TV Widget, Showtime has an exciting new way to reach consumers," Robert Hayes, Showtime's SVP and general manager of digital media, said in a prepared statement.

ActiveVideo Networks in Deal to Provide Blockbuster with Cloud-Based User Interface for VOD and EST

Cloud-based interactive TV specialist, ActiveVideo Networks, announced an agreement with Blockbuster, Wednesday, that it says is designed to enhance the consumer VOD and electronic sell-through (EST) experience of the latter's Blockbuster On Demand service across multiple connected platforms. According to ActiveVideo, the deal will see Blockbuster using the company's technology to power a Web-based user interface for its service in the network cloud, that will allow viewers to search, discover and view titles of interest and that will incorporate previews and trailers and recommendation capabilities.

Microsoft Launches Version 2.0 of its Mediaroom IPTV Platform

--Billed as Delivering More Content to More Screens, Using a Cloud-Based Infrastructure

Microsoft on Wednesday launched version 2.0 of its Mediaroom IPTV platform, billing it as "enabl[ing] TV service operators to provide their TV services to more subscribers than ever before, delivering more content to more screens than the previous version of Mediaroom--both inside and outside the home."

OTT Specialist, Vudu, Unveils Vudu Apps: Will Be Deployed by Mitsubishi, Sanyo, Sharp and Toshiba

--Vudu Streaming Movie Service Deployed by LG, Mitsubishi, Samsung, Sanyo, Sharp, Toshiba, Vizio

Vudu, a company hitherto best known for its over-the-top streaming video service, the Vudu Streaming Movie Service, on Wednesday announced Vudu Apps, a platform for the delivery of Internet applications and services to home theaters, HDTV's and Blu-ray Disc players (BDP's). The company also said that Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, Sanyo, Sharp and Toshiba America Consumer Products have adopted Vudu Apps as their platform for the delivery of Internet services directly to their connected HDTV's and that Toshiba will also integrate the platform into its line of connected BDP's.

CBS Launches iPhone/iPod touch App, Devoted to News Anchor Katie Couric

--FLO TV, mophie Partner to Bring Live Mobile TV to iPhones

CBS's CBS News and CBS Mobile arms announced Wednesday the launch of the "CBS News Katie Couric" iPhone/iPod touch application in the Apple App store (note: Couric is the anchor of "CBS Evening News," and arguably CBS's most high-profile news personality).

Tremor Media Launches New Interactive Video Advertising Formats

Online video advertising network operator, Tremor Media, on Wednesday announced a new series of broadband video advertising formats for its flagship Acudeo platform. "With our Acudeo technology tightly integrated within the player-environment across all of the sites in our in-stream network, Tremor Media is able to continually introduce new and innovative ad formats that can be reliably delivered at scale," Tremor Media CEO, Jason Glickman, said in a prepared statement. "These new formats benefit the entire video value chain--from advertisers to publishers to the end-consumer--by putting the viewer in control, enhancing engagement, and making video advertising more effective for brands."

According to Tremor Media, the new ad formats are:

News Round-Up I: Connected TV

--DivX Launches DivX TV: Will Be Deployed by LG Electronics
--Home Jinni Launches Social Entertainment Platform/Media Center for Android-Based HDTV's/BDP's
--LG Electronics Expands its Netcast Entertainment Access Service
--Panasonic Adds Fox Sports, Netflix, Pandora, Twitter and Skype to Viera Cast
--Samsung Launches App Store, Napster Launches TV Widget on Samsung's Internet@TV
--Sony Launches 3D-Enabled Bravia Connected TV's, Blu-ray Players
--Toshiba Launches Broadband-Connected CELL TV, Featuring 2D-to-3D Conversion and More
--Trinity Convergence Working with Skype to Embed Skype Video Calling in Connected TV's
--Vizio Launches New Connected HDTV's, Expands its Vizio Internet Apps Service

A number of pieces of connected TV news came across [itvt]'s desk, Tuesday. Here is a brief--and by no means exhaustive--round-up (note: also see "Vudu Unveils Vudu Apps OTT Service," "ActiveVideo Networks in Deal to Provide Blockbuster with Cloud-Based User Interface," and "Showtime Networks, Betfair Launch Interactive TV Widgets"):

News Round-Up II: Miscellaneous

--Concurrent Forms Advisory Board to Provide Counsel on Cross-Platform Strategy
--DirecTV to Launch Three 3D TV Channels
--DISH Network, EchoStar Announce "TV Everywhere" Products
--Hillcrest Labs Integrates Freespace with Broadcom's Bluetooth Chipsets
--iN Demand Names Bob Benya President and CEO
--ThinkAnalytics Joins NDS's Recommendations Engine Partner Program
--NDS to Offer End-to-End e-Publishing Solution
--Sky Says its 3D TV Service Will Be Compatible with Sets from LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony

Here is a brief round-up of some other interactive TV-related stories we didn't have room for in this issue:

Connected TV Game Forum Launched

--Founder Members are Accedo Broadband, Betfair, PlayJam, RallyPoint, Two Way Media

Five companies in the interactive TV and online games/gaming space--Accedo Broadband, Betfair, PlayJam, RallyPoint and Two Way Media--announced Tuesday that they are establishing a new forum for the development of games on connected TV. The companies say that online games are a major driver in the multiplatform digital entertainment arena, attracting 38% of Internet users and generating billions of downloads via mobile and digital TV platforms, and that they believe such games will act as a "prime motivator for consumers to connect their TV's to the Internet."

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