News Round-Up

--BT Vision Plans to Undercut Sky's Pricing of Premium Sports Programming
--CBS to Air Interactive Show Featuring Super Bowl Commercials
--DVPRemote v. 1.4 Released
--Google Seeks Patent for System that Would Enable Advertisers to Create Own Interactive Overlay Ads
--ITU Releases Three-Stage Roadmap for 3D TV, Sky Taps 3ality for its New 3D TV Service
--Kaltura Launches Video Extensions for Joomla
--Microsoft Said to Be in Talks to Offer ESPN on Xbox
--NBC Unveils Broadband Video Plans for Winter Olympics
--never.no to Showcase Enhancements to its Interactive TV Product Line at BVE 2010

Because the [itvt] editorial team is busy working on The TV of Tomorrow Show (March 3rd-4th in San Francisco) and on our new, post-TVOT EBIF Intensive event (March 5th in San Francisco), we are covering a number of stories in this issue in summary form:

  • In an interview with the UK newspaper, The Sunday Telegraph, BT Retail CEO, Gavin Patterson, states that BT's Microsoft Mediaroom-powered hybrid DTT/IPTV service, BT Vision, will offer premium sports programming at a much lower price than BSkyB currently does, if UK communications regulator, Ofcom, decides later this week--as it is expected to do--to force the satellite TV provider to lower the wholesale prices of its premium sports and movie services. "Patterson says that if the decision goes BT's way it will offer Sky Sports packages to its customers 'somewhere in the mid teens,' a massive discount compared to the minimum £25.50 Sky charges its customers for Sky Sports 1 and the £34.50 it charges for Sky Sports 1, 2, 3 and 4," the Sunday Telegraph article states.
  • CBS has announced plans to air an interactive countdown special, entitled "Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials 2010" on February 3rd (8:00-9:00PM Eastern/Pacific). "The special will count down the 10 greatest Super Bowl commercials from the past 10 years, which will vie for the number one spot," the broadcaster says in its press materials for the show. "Viewers can go now to www.cbs.com/superbowl to watch them and vote for their favorite. The top three picks will be revealed during the show and, in a special live vote during the broadcast on www.cbs.com/superbowl, viewers will decide which commercial will take home the ultimate title."
  • Version 1.4 of DVPRemote, an application that enables iPhone and iPod touch devices to serve as a wireless remote for Roku's Digital Video Player, has been released. Among other things, the new version features a QWERTY keyboard. Blogger Dave Zatz has a review.
  • Google has filed a patent application for an interface that would enable advertisers to create their own interactive overlay ads over YouTube videos, by filling in a few text fields. The patent, entitled "Video Overlay Advertisement Creator," was brought to light by GoRumors. "In one embodiment, values specifying attributes of a desired video overlay advertisement are entered via a browser-based user interface functioning on a client device and communicated to the advertisement creation server's advertisement creation module," the patent application reads. "The advertisement creation server receives the values and in response creates and provides to the client device a video overlay advertisement having the desired attributes, which the client displays within the browser-based user interface. In one embodiment, the browser-based user interface displays multiple advertisement segments, each segment having attributes representing the appearance of the advertisement at a particular point in time, and a set of transitions between the segments. In one embodiment, the browser-based user interface includes controls for specifying the actions that are taken in response to selection of the advertisement."
  • The ITU has released a new report outlining a roadmap for future 3D TV implementation, which it says "envisages systems so smart they accurately mimic the way our eyes and brains perceive the visual world." According to the international standards organization, the new roadmap calls for 3D TV technology to be rolled out in three successive profiles/generations: "The first generation--'plano-stereoscopic television'--calls for two views to be delivered to viewers' TV sets," the ITU explains in its press materials announcing the new roadmap. "Wearing special glasses similar to those used to watch 3D cinema, viewers will be able to see depth in the picture, although the view will remain the same when they move their heads (in real life, our view changes when we move our heads). The second generation will provide for multiple views, with head movement changing the view, for a viewing experience that more closely mimics real life. The third generation will feature systems that record the amplitude, frequency, and phase of light waves, to reproduce almost completely human beings' natural viewing environment. These kinds of highly advanced systems are technically some 15-20 years away," the ITU concedes. In related news: BSkyB has tapped Burbank, Calif.-based 3ality Digital, to help power its planned launch of 3D TV later this year. "Launching in 2010, Sky's 3D TV services will use 3ality Digital's state-of-the-art camera rigs and image processors to capture much of the programming it plans to broadcast," the companies say in a press release.
  • Kaltura, a company that offers what it bills as the first open source broadband video platform, has announced that it has released a video extension for Joomla, an open source content management system with over 10 million downloads. According to the company, the extension "allows Joomla site-builders to handle every aspect of video and rich-media, including content management, syndication, monetization, transcoding, uploading, importing, editing and remixing."
  • Microsoft has held "in-depth" talks with Disney about offering programming from ESPN on the Xbox 360, according to a report in the New York Times. "For a per-subscriber fee, ESPN could provide live streams of sporting events, similar to the ones available through ESPN 360, a service that is available from some high-speed Internet providers," the Times' report states.
  • NBC has announced its coverage plans for the Winter Olympics, which, among other things, will see it offering around 400 hours of live streaming coverage and around 1,000 hours of on-demand coverage through a Microsoft Silverlight-powered player on NBColympics.com. However, in order to access the coverage, users will have to go through an authentication process to prove that they are subscribed to a pay-TV operator. NewTeeVee's Ryan Lawler has more.
  • Norwegian interactive TV software company, never.no (note: for an example of an application powered by the company's technology, see the article published on itvt.com, July 10th), has announced plans to showcase enhancements to its various interactive TV solutions at the upcoming Broadband Video Expo (February 16th-18th, London).