News Round-Up:

--Arqiva to Name its Kangaroo-Derived VOD Service "SeeSaw"
--BBC Officially Launches Revamped CBeebies Red-Button Interactive TV Service
--BBC Trust Launches Review of Red Button Services, and BBC One, Two and Four
--Brightline Interactive TV Advertising Campaigns Win Two Awards
--Cox Rolls out ShowRunner VOD Software in Orange County
--Dailymotion in Broadband Video Distribution Partnership with Conduit
--Deutsche Telekom Interactive TV Award Deadline Extended to October 18th
--Espial Trumpets MediaBase VOD Performance with Intel Solid State Drivers, Xeon 5500 Processors
--Will Flannery, VP of Advanced Services at Fox Cable, Dead at 38
--Hand Eye Technologies Showcases its Interactive TV Platform at DEMOfall
--Livestream Launches "Satellite Television Truck in a Backpack"
--MySpace Said to Be Teaming with Hulu on New Broadband Video Service
--Philips in OTT Partnership with Global Digital Broadcast
--Project Canvas Set-Tops to Be in Stores by 2010, BBC Exec Claims
--Sonic Solutions in Multi-Year Over-the-Top Deal with Blockbuster
--TiVo: Data Show Most Popular Programs Often Suffer Most Ad Skipping
--Videon Central-RCDb Partnership Targets Internet-Connected Blu-Ray Disc Players

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

  • Arqiva--the broadcast transmission company which recently acquired the platform assets of Project Kangaroo, the VOD platform developed by UKVOD, a joint venture between the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, and terrestrial broadcasters, ITV and Channel 4, for a price believed to be in the £8 million range (note: Project Kangaroo was believed to be close to launch, when it was nixed in February by the Competition Commission, an independent public body that investigates mergers, markets and regulated industries at the UK government's behest), and which has announced plans to use those platform assets to launch a new, Web-based, consumer-facing VOD service to UK consumers in the coming months, that will offer both free and paid content, including "top-end quality content from leading broadcasters and independent content providers"--will use the brand name, "SeeSaw" for the new service, and is set to appoint Richard Knight, Channel 4's former strategy and distribution manager, as the service's permanent commercial manager, according to a report in Media Week.
  • The BBC has now officially launched a revamped red-button interactive TV service for CBeebies, its digital channel for children six and under. For more on the new CBeebies red-button service, see the article published on itvt.com, August 31st
  • The BBC's governing body, the BBC Trust, has launched a review of BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four and the BBC's Red Button interactive TV services. A 12-week public consultation began September 24th, and the BBC Trust is scheduled to publish its report next summer. The review is being led by BBC Trustee, Diane Coyle: "The Trust is the BBC's governing body and we need to ensure these services are meeting audiences' expectations," she said in a prepared statement. "This is why we have launched this significant piece of work that will help us understand how well the BBC's most popular services are operating. These services have a key role in helping the BBC deliver its public service mission. We'll be looking at how they are performing against their service licenses and whether they are offering value for money. Our research tells us that audiences want and expect more fresh and new ideas on the BBC television. This review will help us understand how best the BBC can provide distinctive programming that audiences love. We now want to encourage viewers to get in touch with us to let us know what they think of these BBC services."
  • Interactive TV advertising agency, Brightline iTV Marketing Specialists, recently won two industry awards for interactive TV campaigns it developed: A campaign it designed for Unilever's AXE brand won a MediaPost Creative Media award; and a campaign it designed for Vaseline Clinical won a Silver honor in the interactive video category of the fifth annual IAB MIXX Awards.
  • Cable operator, Cox Communications, has rolled out Rovi's ShowRunner VOD application (originally developed by Aptiv Digital) on its Orange County systems, according to a report in the Orange County Register. According to the Register, notable ShowRunner features include "instant replay button to rewind 10 seconds; movies and shows now organized by categories and accessed using the remote control's arrow keys; [and] an 'Info' button to see more details about free previews or the show itself."
  • Broadband video company, Dailymotion, has formed a partnership with Conduit that will see its content and services being distributed on the latter's platform. "Dailymotion is providing a conduit to its community using a community toolbar that offers streaming videos," the companies explain in a press release. "Dailymotion has also added its component to the Conduit Marketplace and can distribute its videos to more than 200,000 Web publishers and 60,000,000 users in the Conduit Network."
  • The deadline for submitting interactive TV concepts to the Deutsche Telekom Interactive TV Award has been extended to October 18th. More information on the award is available here.
  • Canadian digital TV software company, Espial, is trumpeting what it claims are improved performance and power benchmark results for its Espial MediaBase VOD products in tandem with Intel Solid State Drives and the Intel Xeon Processor 5500 Series.
  • Will Flannery, VP of advanced services at Fox Cable Networks, has died of a sudden illness at the age of 38. A public memorial will be held for him November 14th. More information on Flannery's life and achievements is available here.
  • San Francisco-based start-up, Hand Eye Technologies, showcased its interactive TV software platform at the DEMOfall conference in San Diego last week. Dubbed Hand Eye Interactive Technology (HIT), the platform enables viewers to use their camera-equipped smartphones to interact with highlighted hotspot objects on the TV screen (note: according to the company, the technology works with almost any video display system, including projection displays and computer monitors, in addition to LCD and plasma TV sets). The platform generated quite a bit of buzz when it debuted at The TV of Tomorrow Show 2009 in March. The complete HIT system consists of client software resident on the smartphone device used for on-screen targeting, and server software resident on the set-top box or other device controlling the TV or video display. According to the company, patent-pending image processing technology ascertains the specific on-screen object that the viewer is pointing to, determines screen location, and discerns potential and possible actions for each encoded on-screen object. Uses for the HIT system, which also features bookmarking capabilities, include tcommerce, interactive advertising and product placement. For more on Hand Eye Technologies and its platform, see the interview with the company's founder and CEO, Jonathan Kessler, that was published on itvt.com, August 13th.
  • Livestream, (formerly Mogulus), a New York-based company which offers a platform that enables amateurs and professionals to produce and distribute live TV on the Internet (note: the company, which offers free and premium versions of its platform, bills the platform as offering, among other things, the ability to mix multiple live cameras, imported video clips and overlay graphics, and as allowing producers to broadcast live from a mobile phone, use a customizable Flash player with integrated chat, and develop a branded channel page on its Web site that incorporates interactive chat--for an in-depth overview of Livestream and its platform, see the interview with its co-founder and CEO, Max Haot, that was published on itvt.com, May 21st), has launched a product called Livepack, which CEO Haot describes as "like having a satellite television truck in a backpack." The solution consists of hardware from LiveU that has been integrated with Livestream's streaming video platform and CDN. It fits into a custom-designed backpack, the company says, and "includes everything required to stream live: a built-in wireless connection with six load-balanced 3G/EVDO modems over three carriers, encoding hardware, Firewire cable, and 30 hours of streaming uplink time per month."
  • Social networking service, MySpace, will within the next few months launch a new broadband video service in partnership with Hulu, according to a report last week by CNET News.
  • Philips has announced a partnership with Global Digital Broadcast that will make the latter's IPTV service available on its broadband-connected TV sets. The service, which is set to be available at the end of the month via the Philips Net TV feature on Philips 8000- and 9000-series TV sets and the company's Cinema 21:9 series, is slated to offer around 120 channels, including Al Jazeera, Cartoon Network, Disney, Eurosport, and TV Polari (targeted at the LGBT community).
  • Project Canvas-enabled set-top boxes will--barring regulatory problems--be in stores by Christmas 2010, according to Richard Halton, IPTV program director at the BBC (note: Project Canvas is a joint over-the-top venture between the BBC and UK commercial broadcasters ITV and Five, and UK incumbent telco BT, which seeks to develop a common standard and interface for the delivery of online catch-up services such as the BBC iPlayer and the ITV player, as well as other Internet-based VOD services, to broadband-connected set-top boxes--specifically, set-top boxes designed for reception of the UK's free-to-air multichannel TV services, Freeview and Freesat). Halton also stated that talks are underway with a number of potential commercial partners for Project Canvas, including LoveFilm, Blinkbox and the UK Film Council.
  • Sonic Solutions has announced a multi-year agreement with video rental company, Blockbuster, which it says will see its Roxio CinemaNow service powering the latter's over-the-top offering, Blockbuster On Demand, on TiVo DVR's; various Samsung HDTV sets, home theater systems and Blu-ray disc players; and select Motorola mobile phones.
  • TiVo has released data from its StopWatch ratings service which it claims show "heavy levels of season-long timeshifted viewing and among the lowest levels of commercial retention for nearly all of the 2009 Emmy Award winning programs compared with other nominated shows within their respective genres." For example, TiVo says, " AMC's 'Mad Men' saw 83% of its timeshifted audience fast-forward through its commercials, compared to a genre benchmark of 73%," and "Comedy Central's 'South Park' similarly showed fast-forwarding of 66% compared to genre average of 55%." "This data clearly demonstrates that while critics and general audiences may love a program, that doesn't mean they'll watch the commercials," Todd Juenger, VP and general manager of TiVo Audience Research & Measurement, said in a prepared statement. "In fact, the most beloved programs are often subject to the highest degree of timeshifting and commercial avoidance."
  • Videon Central and RCDb have announced a partnership covering the development and deployment of networked applications on Internet-connected Blu-ray Disc players. The companies say they have "pre-integrated their software solutions to offer a complete reference design to BD player manufacturers," and that "the offering enables a BD player to dynamically load and unload applications and connect with a flexible, updateable set of third party services and content offerings controlled by the player manufacturers and their retail partners."

 

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