News Round-Up

--CableLabs' Next ETV Interop Begins February 22nd, Deadline for Applying Is January 29th
--DirecTV Begins Public Beta of Multiroom DVR
--Report: Hulu Mulling Plans to Launch Subscription Service
--Kaltura Releases Video Extension for Moodle
--Live Interactive Broadband Video Spin-Off Planned for Channel 4's "Embarrassing Bodies"
--Move Networks Appoints Eddy Hartenstein, Sol Trujillo to its Board
--SureWest Launches Microsoft Mediaroom-Based IPTV Service
--Ustream Launches Pay-Per-View Capability
--Verizon Rolls Out Interactive TV Upgrade in Pittsburgh and West Central Florida
--Vimeo Beta-Launches HTML5 Video Player

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

  • CableLabs has issued an RFI for its next Enhanced TV Interop event, which is scheduled to take place February 22nd-26th, and which will focus on interoperability between ETV applications and user agents across multiple set-top boxes. The deadline for responding to the RFI is January 29th. The RFI is available here. (H/T OEDN)
  • DirecTV has begun an opt-in public beta of multiroom DVR. More information on the service, for which the satellite TV provider apparently plans to levy a charge as soon as it is launched commercially, is available here and here.
  • According to a report by Dawn Chmielewski and Alex Pham of the LA Times, Hulu is mulling plans to launch a subscription service, and has spent several months "studying how to strike a balance between what people expect to watch free online and what they would be willing to pay for." "One plan being considered would allow users to view the five most recent episodes of TV shows free but would require a subscription of $4.99 a month to watch older episodes," Chmielewski and Pham write. "Hulu believes it will need at least 20 TV series--both current ones and those no longer on the air--to make such a pay service attractive to users. A firm pricing model could emerge within six months...sources said."
  • Kaltura, a company that offers what it bills as the first open source broadband video platform, has announced the release of a video extension for open source learning-management system, Moodle. According to the company, the extension "allows Moodle site-builders to handle every aspect of video and rich media, including content management, syndication, monetization, transcoding, uploading, importing, editing and remixing."
  • Maverick Television is producing "Embarrassing Bodies Live," a live, interactive broadband video show that will air on channel4.com/bodies, immediately after episodes of the Channel 4 series, "Embarrassing Bodies." According to the company, the 20-minute show, which will debut February 10th and which will have an initial run of three episodes, "will be shaped and driven by viewers of the Channel 4 program who can have their questions answered, discuss their experiences and even have their conditions diagnosed online in real time." Viewers will be able to interact via chat functionality on the show's site, as well as through Facebook and Twitter. In addition to chatting and asking questions, they will be able to upload photos of their ailments and participate in votes.
  • Move Networks has appointed DirecTV's founder and former chairman and CEO, Eddy Hartenstein, and former Telstra CEO, Solomon Trujillo, to its board of directors. "Sol's wealth of experience as a pioneering network operator and innovator and Eddy's deep understanding of and achievements in the television industry will be invaluable to Move as we focus on delivering the next generation of live, multichannel TV over the Internet," Move's president and CEO, Roxanne Austin, said in a prepared statement. "In Sol and Eddy, we couldn't ask to have two more proven leaders in television distribution and telecommunications joining our board as we combine the best of real TV with all of the interactive and social features of the Internet."
  • SureWest Communications, an independent triple-play provider that offers service in and around Sacramento, Calif. and Kansas City, MO, has announced that it has now launched its new Advanced Digital TV service, which is based on the Microsoft Mediaroom IPTV platform, on its Sacramento-area networks. The new service replaces an IPTV service that was based on Minerva's platform (see the article published on itvt.com, July 29th). According to the company, key features of the new service include "whole home DVR, which allows for watching and recording up to four streams on any TV in the home with just one DVR, a large selection of HD channels and HD On Demand content, a sleek and user-friendly transparent menu system so you never miss what you are watching as you scroll through the guide, and live picture-in-picture preview so you see what's on other networks before changing the channel."
  • Live Internet broadcast service provider, Ustream, has launched a pay-per-view capability, allowing its customers to charge viewers for live streaming events on its platform. The company plans to take a cut of the revenues generated by the service, which will initially be used to provide live streaming of a February 6th show by comedian Dane Cook, that will also include various exclusive live pre- and post-show and behind-the-scenes features. The event will be priced at $5. NewTeeVee's Ryan Lawler has more.
  • Verizon FiOS TV has launched new interactive TV features--including VOD personalization, purchasing of Showtime and ESPN programming via the remote control, gaming widgets, and various navigational shortcuts--in West Central Florida and in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The features have previously been rolled out on Verizon's networks in California, Texas, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island.
  • A day or so after YouTube announced a similar offering, Vimeo announced the beta-launch of an HTML5 video player, as an alternative to its Flash-based player.

 

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