News Round-Up (VIII): Sigma Designs, Microsoft, Ski Channel, Comcast, SnagFilms, Verizon, SyFy

--Sigma Designs Launches "Low-Cost" Set-Top Box Solution for Microsoft Mediaroom
--Ski Channel in VOD Deal with Comcast
--SnagFilms Plans to Increase Distribution, Starting with VOD Deals with Comcast, Verizon FiOS TV
--SyFy Launches Three iPhone Apps

The [itvt] editorial team is on the road this week and next, so we are covering most stories in round-up/summary form, and we anticipate that there will be some additional interruptions of our regular news publishing schedule beyond that. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience to our readers.

  • System-on-chip (SoC) specialist, Sigma Designs, has announced the availability of what it describes as a "low-cost" Microsoft Mediaroom-compatible set-top box platform, based on its SMP8652 media processor SoC. The company says that "SMP8652-based set top box designs have completed integration with Mediaroom client software and are anticipated to begin deployment with leading carriers in the second half of 2010." According to the company, the new set-top box platform has been designed in response to the fact that "Mediaroom is...enjoying increased deployments in new geographies and segments where the business model demands very low-cost set top boxes along with the high performance required to deliver an increasing set of features and improved user experience."
  • The Ski Channel has announced that it has signed a long-term VOD distribution agreement with Comcast. According to the broadcaster, the deal increases its footprint to over 43 million US households. The Ski Channel offers a range of programming, including instructional videos, event coverage and movies from Warren Miller and Greg Stump.
  • SnagFilms--which describes itself as "a Web site where you can watch full-length documentary films for free, but...also a platform that lets you 'snag' a film and put it anywhere on the Web"--has announced that it is bringing its library to a range of new platforms, including Comcast's and Verizon FiOS TV's VOD services (where it will offer a selection of films on a paid basis). The company says that, among other things, it will also make its movies available for purchase on iTunes, for rental on YouTube's premium program, and for free and for purchase on the iPad; it will distribute a selection of its films through mobile phone carriers (it says that it has secured initial distribution with two major carriers with a reach of 6 million subscribers); and it will extend its library to connected TV's, Blu-ray players, gaming consoles and set-top boxes this fall.
  • SyFy has launched a new network iPhone app, as well as a new iPhone app for its series, "Warehouse 13," and an updated version of its Comic-Con app. According to the broadcaster, the new network app allows users to "see a full schedule of Syfy programming; watch videos from Syfy shows including sneak peeks, behind-the-scenes videos and talent video blogs; read episode guides for Syfy shows; view image galleries from Syfy shows; download iPhone-optimized wallpapers for their phone; activate push alerts to be the first to learn about new content added to the app, special events happening on-air and tune-in alerts; [and] follow their favorite Syfy stars on Twitter." The new "Warehouse 13 Agent Profile Creator" iPhone app, meanwhile, is billed by SyFy as "offer[ing] viewers the opportunity to become a part of the 'Warehouse 13' universe. Choosing the era, specialty, and which of the artifacts in America's Attic fans are certified to handle, the users can take or upload a photo and see their agent ID," the broadcaster says. "'Agents can share their profiles through Facebook, Twitter, or with friends via email, and browse the roster of other agents to see who else is snagging, bagging and tagging."


North America