FreedTV Launches Interactive TV Application for Social Viewing

--Claims the App Can Run on EBIF-, tru2way- or WebKit-Enabled Set-Top Boxes

Boulder, Colorado-based start-up, FreedTV, on Wednesday launched what it bills as "the first cross-platform social media television application supporting real-time connectivity to mainstream television set-top boxes." In association with its existing Facebook WIWA (stands for "What I'm Watching") and iPhone applications, the company says, the new FreedTV Video Service Provider (VSP) app "combines the compelling content of broadcast and cable television with the peer-to-peer communication of social networking to create a new standard in interactive television." "Television viewing was once a social experience based on 'event' programming, like 'The Wonderful World of Disney' on Sunday evenings," FreedTV president, Brent Dix, said in a prepared statement. "That viewing experience has changed as a result of viewer fragmentation. FreedTV re-establishes the social element without the physical constraints, allowing viewers to share their TV life with their friends wherever those friends may be."

According to FreedTV, its new application uses a cloud-based server and specialized software to allow users to quickly find their friends and see what programs they are watching. In addition to allowing users to identify their own programming choices, the company says, real-time messaging capabilities let users join one another in a "virtual TV room" to share the viewing experience. The company claims that the application is compatible with all video service providers, content providers, broadcast and cable networks, and Internet video sites, and that it can run on any EBIF-, tru2way or WebKit-enabled set-top box. "FreedTV has the capability to run real-time on existing networks and across multiple platforms, including the Facebook WIWA application on the PC, the Video Service Provider (VSP) application on the STB, and the mobile application on the iPhone," FreedTV CTO, John Carlucci, said in a prepared statement. "All three interfaces were successfully demonstrated at the CableLabs Summer Conference using standard, widely deployed boxes running live on a Comcast local cable system. Many interactive TV applications require too much processing power, graphics capabilities and/or network bandwidth. FreedTV is the only platform-agnostic application that can run smoothly in all of these environments."

FreedTV--which bills itself as having been founded by "digital video executives innovating at the intersection of television entertainment and social networking" (note: according to the company's Web site, Carlucci was previously chief network architect at Time Warner Cable, while Dix's resume includes stints at Scientific-Atlanta and DiviCom/Harmonic)--says that it is currently completing trials of its Facebook and set-top box applications (note: it claims to have "both EBIF and tru2way clients running on a variety of user agents in major MSO facilities and on live cable plants"), and "is actively raising capital in preparation for full public deployment."

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