--Ensequence Using S&T's MHEG Presenter to Deliver ITV Services to Freeview
Portland, Oregon-based interactive TV authoring solutions provider, Ensequence, announced Monday that it has been chosen by Welsh-language broadcaster, S4C, to create and deploy interactive TV services for the UK's Freeview free-to-air digital terrestrial and Sky pay-TV digital satellite platforms. The new deal represents Ensequence's first multiplatform deployment in the UK.
OEDN.net (note: the name is an acronym for "OCAP/EBIF Developer Network), an organization which is attempting to drive application development efforts using the US cable industry's OCAP/tru2way and EBIF middleware standards and whose backers include Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Charter and Bright House, said Tuesday that it is now hosting its first free OCAP/tru2way sample application, a simple stopwatch app.
--Foxtel Now Offering DAL Interactive TV Advertising Based on emuse Template
Dublin, Ireland-based interactive TV authoring solutions provider, emuse, is powering an interactive TV application for the Fox8 reality series, "Australia's Next Top Model," on the OpenTV-powered Foxtel pay-TV platform. Dubbed "Game On" and accessed through the red button, the new application allows viewers to play along with the show by giving their opinions as it unfolds and guessing who will be eliminated at the end of each episode. Immediately after the show's broadcast, opinions and results from the "Game On" app are made available on the "Australia's Next Top Model" Web and 3G sites.
--Awards to be Hosted by Howie Mandel
Cable channel, GSN (formerly known as the Game Show Network), announced Tuesday that comedian Howie Mandel will host its June 6th Game Show Awards (8:00PM ET, 7:00PM CT), which it bills as "the first awards show exclusively aimed at celebrating excellence in the genre of game shows."
ICT Results, an editorial service created by the European Commission to showcase European Union-funded research in information and communications technology (ICT), published a report, Wednesday, on an EU-funded project called Enhanced Learning Unlimited (ELU), that was established to develop methodologies and tools for enabling learning via interactive TV ("t-learning").
Premium programmer, HBO, announced Monday that, starting May 4th and continuing throughout the month, its HBO On Demand service will offer the first episode of the first season of the Alan Ball-created vampire-themed drama series, "True Blood," complete with interactive enhancements from the new Blu-ray disc edition of the series. According to the company, viewers of the on-demand episode will be able to access four kinds of "original, interactive picture-in-picture, pop-up features":
--"Lafayette," in which the eponymous character will reveal "everything from secrets about Tara's crush on Jason to the history of the Stackhouse family."
--"Vampire History," in which HBO says viewers can learn more about how their favorite vampire characters from the show were "made."
UK-based interactive TV design company, Pushbutton, announced last month that it has teamed with gambling channel, Sky Vegas, to launch an interactive TV version of the arcade-style, "tumbling faces" gambling game, "Chain Reactors," on the latter's service on the UK's Sky satellite-TV platform. In order for a player to win money, a series of what Pushbutton describes as "amusing and quirkily animated tumbling faces" must match up in clusters of at least five in a grid. Lining up the faces causes a "chain reaction," wherein the matched faces disappear in a puff animation. New faces then tumble down the screen to replace them.
During a hearing Thursday on Internet privacy issues, lawmakers from the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet signalled that they will be closely scrutinizing the consumer-privacy implications of the US cable industry's plans to launch a common platform for interactive and addressable advertising (note: those plans are being implemented by a cable industry-backed company called Canoe Ventures). As [itvt] was not able to be in Washington, DC to attend the hearing, we are referring our readers to the Associated Press's write-up.
Time Warner Cable, the second-largest cable MSO in the US, announced Thursday that it has signed a carriage deal with Smithsonian Networks, a joint venture between the Smithsonian Institution and Showtime Networks. In addition for calling for the Smithsonian Channel to be added to Time Warner Cable's line-up of HDTV linear channels, the new agreement calls for Smithsonian Networks to offer a range of its programming on the MSO's HD VOD platform; on its broadband service, Road Runner High Speed Online; and on its interactive TV services, Start Over and Look Back. "We're thrilled to be a part of the Time Warner Cable family," Smithsonian Networks general manager, Tom Hayden, said in a prepared statement.
(Note: Earlier this week, [itvt] published a news story on UK home shopping programmer JML's launch of an interactive TV service based on Miniweb's TV Keys and Key & See offerings. A Miniweb representative subsequently contacted us to let us know that the press release on which we based our story had, in error, been released too early. We are therefore publishing an updated version of the story, which contains information on how the new service works that was omitted from the earlier version of the release.)
CloverLeaf Digital, a Brooklyn-based interactive TV applications developer that specializes in building and managing localized "walled-garden" services, said Tuesday that HickoryTech, a regional telco that offers triple-play services, has launched its flagship DotDaily interactive TV service to its IPTV subscribers in Minnesota.
Multiplatform music programmer, Music Choice, said Tuesday that its ShowOff interactive TV offering has garnered nearly 4 million text and photo submissions since launching last year (according to a study by Atrinsic) and is drawing a daily combined unique audience of nearly 8 million (according to a study by OTX Research).
UK-based Miniweb says that its TV Keys service is now powering an interactive TV application for home shopping programmer, JML, on the Sky satellite-TV platform (note: Miniweb, which was founded by former BSkyB interactive TV executive, Ian Valentine, recently raised $32 million in new funding and appointed a new CEO--see [itvt] Issue 8.06 Part 1). The application--which can be accessed from five JML channels (JML, JML Home & DIY, JML Choice, JML Lifestyle and JML Cookshop) by using the remote control to punch in a code--allows viewers to use their remotes to browse inventory and make purchases. Via a functionality that Miniweb calls "Key & See," the app lets viewers continue to watch the channel they launched it from while they use it.
In this recorded episode of [itvt]'s talk radio show, "The TV of Tomorrow Show with Tracy Swedlow," Tom Pratt, VP of programming and product development at The Weather Channel, discusses the channel's interactive TV offerings and strategy. Topics covered include why The Weather Channel views implementing interactive TV as a high priority; the channel's commitment to ETV/EBIF and OCAP/tru2way; its applications on DISH Network and DirecTV; the infrastructure that enables those apps; and more.