News Round-Up (VI): PlayJam, SeaChange, SureWest

--Interactive TV Games Company, PlayJam, Trumpets "Encouraging" Usage and Conversion Rates
--Major Investor Urges SeaChange to Sell Servers and Storage Business, Separate Chairman and CEO Roles
--SureWest Uses VOD to Help Customers Calibrate their TV's

Due to the huge volume of interactive TV-related news generated over the past few days by the IBC, we are covering stories in this issue in round-up format. We anticipate that it will take a few more 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.

  • Interactive TV games company, PlayJam, says that it "is set to become the global leader in connected-TV games, following the announcement of encouraging usage and revenue-generation rates. Currently available in millions of homes across the globe, PlayJam reveals conversion rates from free to pay players of 56%, with a unique repeat games purchase per month of 4.8 and annualized ARPU at £65.76 ($101.66)," the company states in its press materials. "A pioneer in connected and over-the-top (OTT) TV games content with over 12 years' international operating experience, PlayJam has generated over 6 billion downloads from its library of 500 casual games during the last five years. PlayJam's extensive global network now spans Sony and Samsung's connected-TV services as well as digital TV operators including Sky and DISH TV (US). PlayJam also works with Rovi to incorporate its service into interactive program guides for their global client base. Exploiting the mobile gaming audience, PlayJam has adapted some of its popular titles for Apple's iPhone. Delivering an integrated and accessible user experience, PlayJam is the only games service that brings TV and social networks into play. With chat and messaging functionality built into PlayJam networks, users accumulate PlayJam points for every game played via a single account that can then be redeemed for prizes. Smooth interoperability between platforms is made possible by the company's sophisticated and highly resilient backend management system, facilitating billing, centralized accounts and real-time reporting. The research follows PlayJam's move earlier this year to provide completely free access to some of its most popular titles to Sky viewers, the first time it has done so since appearing on the platform in 2000. PlayJam and competing services usually require customers to purchase a day pass to play and win prizes."
  • Ramius, a major investor in VOD and advanced advertising technology provider, SeaChange International, has sent a letter to the latter's board of directors, in which it says it has "expressed its disappointment and concern regarding the poor margin performance in the Company's core Software business, management's decision to continue to operate the Company's non-core Servers and Storage business despite the Company having received 'several offers' for this business and senior management's lack of credibility due to their continued failure to follow through on commitments to shareholders." In addition to encouraging the board to "re-evaluate the decision not to sell the Company's Servers and Storage business," Ramius is urging it to "immediately separate" its chairman and CEO positions, both of which are currently held by Bill Styslinger. The full text of the letter can be read here. SeaChange's initial response can be read here.
  • SureWest Communications, an integrated communications provider that serves markets in Northern California and the Kansas City region, has added free video tutorials on HD and SD TV calibration to its Advanced Digital TV On Demand video library, which currently offers around 30 other customer self-care videos. "SureWest's library of self-help videos are found both online at www.surewest.com/support and from the 'Help' tab in the On Demand video library," the company states in its press materials. "The calibration videos are only available in the On Demand library to ensure customers view the videos on the television being calibrated...The HD and SD calibration videos walk customers through settings such as brightness, contrast, sharpness, color and tint. Using on-screen test patterns and guided instructions, customers are able to quickly and easily adjust the settings on their TV to optimize their picture."

 

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