News Round-Up

--Babelgum Closes Two Offices
--Microsoft's MSN in Broadband Video Partnership with Pact
--Sony Launches PlayStation Network Video Delivery Service in Europe
--YouTube UK Launches "Shows" Page, Featuring Full Episodes from Multiple Programmers

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

  • Broadband video content company, Babelgum, is closing its Dublin headquarters and its Nice office, and consolidating those offices' operations in its London, Milan and New York City offices, according to a report in Paid Content. "This decision allows Babelgum to streamline its approach, improve its cost-effectiveness and ensure its continued growth in future years," the company said in a statement. "Babelgum will keep developing apps on a large scale from other locations (Milan, in particular, where a large part of its tech team has always been based). Despite the current economic downturn, Babelgum remains one of the very few aggressive players in the new media market."
  • Microsoft's MSN and Pact, the UK trade association for independent producers, have announced that they have jointly created a template "VOD Acquisition Agreement," designed to make it easier for producers to distribute their content on MSN Video Player, the broadband VOD service that MSN launched in the UK in August, and on Windows Live services in general. "Having been in market with our long-form video pilot, MSN Video Player, since August we know our users have a voracious appetite for watching their favorite TV shows on MSN," Rob Crossen, MSN's portal business manager, said in a prepared statement. "This latest initiative comes as a result of a deepening engagement with Pact and the UK production community. We want to make the process easier for producers to make their output available to our 34 million MSN and Windows Live monthly users."
  • Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) has launched its PlayStation Network video delivery service in France, Germany, Spain and the UK, and says that it will launch it in other European countries next year. The service offers around 2,000 movies, some of which are in HD, for rent (from 1.99 Euros) or purchase (from 7.99 Euros). Its content partners include 20th Century Fox, Disney, Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Starz Media, Universal and Warner Bros, as well as content from local-market studios. Sony has also just revealed plans to launch an iTunes-like service, provisionally named the Sony Online Service.
  • YouTube UK last week launched a "Shows" section--accessible via a tab on the YouTube UK homepage--which features full episodes from UK terrestrial broadcaster, Channel 4 (note: the broadcaster, which recently signed a deal with YouTube, is expected to launch a broad range of its programming on the video-sharing platform early next year, in its own separate branded area), and from a line-up of 60 or so other content partners that includes BBC Worldwide, Turner Broadcasting, ITN, Guinness World Records, Classic Media, Fremantle, North One and Al Jazeera. At launch, the service offers around 5,000 videos (of which around 4,000 are full episodes), and YouTube says that it "expects this to significantly increase in the coming months." The Daily Telegraph has more.


North America