News Round-Up (VII): Yahoo!, Vestel, YouTube, Zappware

Kevin Macdonald - save your originals

--Yahoo! in Connected-TV Deal with European TV Manufacturer, Vestel
--YouTube Launches Interactive Gallery for User-Generated Documentary Project, "Life in a Day"
--Zappware to Launch Cloud-Based Interactive TV Platform at IBC, Demo Flux Enhancements

Due to the large volume of interactive TV-related news generated over the past few days by the IFA and the run-up to the IBC, we are covering stories in this issue in round-up format. We anticipate that it will take a couple of days for us to catch up with all the recent news: so if your company has sent us a press release or briefed us on an announcement, and you don't yet see your news covered in this issue, please bear with us. Our regular news coverage will return shortly.

  • Yahoo! and Turkish TV manufacturer, Vestel (which claims to be the largest TV manufacturer in Europe), have announced a deal that they say will see Vestel and its partner OEM brands offering the Yahoo! Connected TV service on devices that will ship to consumers in over 40 European countries starting in Q1, 2011. "With Yahoo! Connected TV, consumers can launch TV widgets or apps with a click of a button, which will give them direct access to thousands of entertainment sources, movies, TV shows, videos, and other kinds of Internet content on-demand," the companies state in their press materials. "They can stream the latest movies on Coolroom; get local and global updates from Sky News and Bild News; browse the latest sports scores on Bild mein Klub; listen to music on Putpat; shop on eBay; play games on PlayJam; and keep up with their friends on Twitter and Facebook--all while watching TV. With new Web-based development interfaces, publishers can easily create widgets with the Yahoo! TV Widget Development Kit (WDK)." In other Vestel news: 1) The company has selected Broadcom's system-on-a-chip (SoC) solutions for a new line of DVB-T/S-based HDTV's; 2) The company has announced a partnership with Notola to support its connected-TV television sets and set-top boxes in Europe
  • Earlier this year (see the article published on, July 8th), [itvt] reported that YouTube was collaborating with Ridley Scott ("Alien," "Blade Runner") and Kevin Macdonald ("Last King of Scotland") on a user-generated/crowdsourced documentary entitled "Life in a Day" (note: the documentary will be composed of footage that people shot of a moment in their lives on July 24th and uploaded to a special area of YouTube's Web site). In a posting on its corporate blog, Sunday, YouTube announced that the "Life in a Day" project received 80,000 videos from 197 countries, and that it has set up an interactive gallery to showcase some of those videos. The gallery features an interface designed around a 3D sphere. "To make browsing easy, you can sort videos by geography, time of day, mood and more," YouTube explains on its blog. "The film's Academy Award-winning director, Kevin Macdonald, and his team are adding more videos to the 'Life in a Day' gallery as they are reviewed, so check back soon for more content. You'll also find updates from Macdonald and editor Joe Walker as they lead a team of researchers in reviewing and cutting the footage down to the final feature-length film. Remember to subscribe to the channel for more news on the film's progress as Kevin and producer Ridley Scott gear up for the world premiere in January at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival."
  • Belgian interactive TV technology provider, Zappware, has announced that it will launch Flux Lite, its first cloud-based, thin-client interactive TV platform, at the IBC. "Ideal for operators looking to deploy newer services to a large installed base of older set-top boxes (STB), to subscribers' connected TV's, or to boxes containing HTML browser capabilities, Flux Lite offers operators enormous flexibility in the level of service offered to keep pace with rising consumer demand for value-added services," Zappware states in its press materials. "The Flux Lite platform, enabled by patent-pending technology within Zappware's iView engine, maintains the bulk of its processing power on the operator's headend servers, and requires very little processing in the STB on the client premises. Software installed in the STB runs the application from the server and provides the viewer access to services such as video-on-demand, personal video recording and advanced electronic programming guides. And, because the application is running in a central location, updates and communications can be issued quickly and consistently." According to Zappware, it will use the IBC to demo Flux Lite's EPG on connected TV's and set-top boxes. "The introduction of a cloud-based application like Flux Lite increases the range of options operators have in deploying interactive TV services to their subscribers," Zappware CEO, Patrick Vos, said in a prepared statement. "Now, Zappware can offer next-generation services and iDTV options to operators and allow the operator to also deploy essential parts of those new services to an already installed base of older STB's, allowing for a smoother migration to a new range of advanced STB's. In addition, using Flux Lite, operators might also opt to deploy essential parts of these services 'over the top' to connected TV's or other consumer devices at the subscribers' homes." In other Zappware news: The company has announced that it will also demo the latest enhancements (in version 2.5) to its Flux end-to-end interactive TV solution--which is powered by its iView engine and which it bills as "a modular suite of interactive services, including electronic program guides, video-on-demand, and personal video recorder applications that offer the operator full customization and configurability"--at the IBC. "Flux 2.5 features a new design for the ZapBanner, an on-screen visual feedback device that provides key information about the currently displayed program or media item during channel changes, recordings, video playback, and other Flux actions," Zappware states in its press materials. "The new design adds convenience by providing a shorter click-path to additional program information and easier access to purchase opportunities. Additional enhancements include powerful new option menus that provide more direct navigation routes to specific functions based on context. For example, shortcuts are available for recordings and channels are easily added to and deleted from favorite lists. A new media player function that enables viewers to watch content stored on USB Flash drives and/or home media servers is also included with the latest release."


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