News Round-Up (II): BBC iPlayer, LG Electronics, Plex, Miniweb

IFA Berlin 2010 : HbbTV présentée par France Television sur ecran LG

--BBC Launches New Version of the iPlayer, Says iPlayer Is Coming to More TV Devices
--LG Electronics in Connected-TV Deal with Media Center Software Company, Plex
--Miniweb Enables Broadband Video on Freeview and Freesat HD Devices

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.

  • The BBC has now officially launched the new version of its broadband VOD/catch-up TV service, the BBC iPlayer, that launched in beta earlier this year (see the article published on, May 26th). According to the BBC, the new version features 1) what the corporation calls a "simplified and intuitive" user experience that is intended to make it easier to find content on the service; 2) personalization options which the corporation says will allow users to "create their own iPlayer experience"; and 3) social media integration. The BBC--which has just appointed former Microsoft executive, Daniel Danker, to the new position of general manager for programs and on-demand--also says that a number of third-party consumer electronics manufacturers, including Sony (which has integrated an iPlayer app onto its Vaio laptops) and Toshiba, will be announcing the availability of the iPlayer on their devices in the coming weeks.
  • Plex, a San Francisco-based company which offers an open software platform for media management and consumption (note: the platform is currently available only for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad), has announced that LG Electronics will integrate its platform into its 2011 HDTV's and Blu-ray devices that are equipped with its NetCast connected-TV platform. "After considering many alternative solutions, LG Electronics chose to utilize Plex's media server platform technology as a part of its next-generation NetCast-enabled home entertainment products because of the breadth of available applications and content and the ease of developing new services," Hojun Nam, LG's director of LCD TV research and development, said in a prepared statement. "Plex's capabilities offer our customers additional methods of displaying their content on LG's next-generation TVs and that is exciting to us." Plex bills its platform as "the first and only truly comprehensive digital media management solution that spans both personal and online content. The solution's simple-to-use and intuitive user interface allows consumers to search, navigate, consume, store and sync digital content from multiple platforms and devices," the company states in its press materials. "It requires no additional hardware or technology knowledge, ensuring even the most novice user will easily be able to access their favorite TV programs, movies, photos and more--no matter where they are or what device they want to access it with...Compatibility with mainstream mobile devices, such as iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone products, and soon-to-be-announced Android-based products including mobile phones and tablets, ensures that the Plex solution is the industry's first truly integrated three-screen media platform, allowing a seamless experience across devices and media sources. Plex's mobile compatibility also allows users access to their content from anywhere, making content consumption and management seamless across all device types--whenever and wherever users prefer." In related news: LG Electronics will be the first device partner for HbbTV-based interactive TV services that French public broadcaster, France Televisions, plans to launch early next year. The broadcaster has been demo'ing HbbTV-based apps in LG Electronics' booth at the IFA--a video of the demo is embedded above.
  • Miniweb, a London-based company which offers a platform designed to enable converged broadcast and broadband entertainment on the TV, has announced that its platform now offers "full support" for UK television devices that utilize the DTG MHEG-5 Interaction Channel specs--thus enabling Freeview and Freesat HD devices to access a range of broadband video content. "Miniweb's Connected TV service platform can now be used by any online content publisher to reach enabled UK Freesat and Freeview HD viewers, without the need to develop and debug a specific MHEG-5 application on a device by device basis, saving costs and enabling earlier service launches," the company states in its press materials. "Miniweb's MHEG-5 Connected TV services platform enables an added-value content proposition for Freeview and Freesat HD devices, and is available now to consumer electronics manufacturers and retailers with no incremental hardware costs. The availability of the first catch-up TV services on both Freesat and Freeview HD devices is alerting viewers to the potential of these devices to access online content when connected to a home network. As these devices become connected, other UK broadcasters and online content publishers need to meet this growing demand with a simple mechanism to enable access to their online content libraries on these devices." According to Miniweb--which plans to demo its MHEG-5 solution at the IBC (IP343)--its MHEG-5 client has been integrated by middleware provider, Pixan, and by set-top manufacturer, Eurosat.


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