News Round-Up

--Report: Amazon Attempting to Acquire Lovefilm
--AT&T Teams with NCAA Football on Social App
--BBC Commissions Second Series of "Interactive Episodes" of "Doctor Who"
--CBS Sports Launches Pro Football App for Apple iPad
--ivi Receives Cease-and-Desist Letters from Broadcasters, Files Complaint for Declaratory Judgment
--Motive Television to Acquire Adecq, Provider of the Bestv DTT-Based VOD Solution
--Ofcom Hands over Responsibility for VOD Content Regulation to Association for Television on Demand
--Open IPTV Forum Adds Four More Members
--Pace Hires Nokia UK & Ireland MD, Mark Loughran, to Head New Convergence-Focused Unit

Here is a round-up of some other recent interactive TV-related stories that we didn't have room for in this issue:

  • According to a report in the now paywall-blocked Sunday Times, Amazon has initiated a takeover bid for Lovefilm, the company often referred to as "the European Netflix." The bid is said to value Lovefilm at around £200 million.
  • AT&T and NCAA football have announced the launch of a free NCAA Football Fan Zone App for iPhone/iPod touch, that is designed to enable, among other things, a social TV experience during broadcasts of NCAA Football games.
  • Earlier this year (see the article published on itvt.com, April 12th), the BBC announced plans to offer four original "interactive episodes" of its long-running scifi series, "Doctor Who." Entitled "Doctor Who: The Adventure Games," the "interactive episodes" are downloadable computer games for PC and Mac that allow players to assume control of The Doctor and his human sidekick, Amy, as they embark on new adventures that complement the latest season of the TV series. The corporation--which says that the fourth episode of the first series of "Doctor Who: The Adventure Games" will be available for free download on its Web site later this year--has now announced that it has commissioned a second series. "Series two will once again be executive produced by the BBC Wales TV series team of Steven Moffat, Piers Wenger, Beth Willis, along with Anwen Aspden (BBC Wales Interactive)," the BBC states in its press materials. "'Doctor Who: The Adventure Games' are being created in conjunction with leading British videogame developer Sumo Digital, and form an integral part of the Eleventh Doctor's second series. Matt Smith and Karen Gillan will reprise their virtual roles, providing full voice-overs and likenesses once again--but will also be joined by additional members of the 'Doctor Who' cast. The second series will be written by established 'Doctor Who' writers and will form part of the 'canon' of Matt Smith's Doctor." Said Simon Nelson, head of multiplatform in vision at the BBC: "Given the success of the first series, we'd be daft not to recommission. But it's not just about the numbers; the feedback we've had has been overwhelmingly positive. Our audience has been introduced to a new form of drama--and, for many, these have been the first computer games they have downloaded. We've set new standards in audience participation--and we think we've really helped push the concept of families actively playing together. I can't wait to see what the team does next."
  • CBS Sports has launched a Pro Football app for the Apple iPad. "A perfect complement to the CBS Sports Mobile Web site (wap.cbssports.com), the CBS Sports Pro Football App delivers live NFL scores, play-by-play, breaking news, standings, videos and the latest fantasy football commentary from the experts at CBSSports.com," the broadcaster states in its press materials. "It is also available for the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry devices. Additionally, CBSSports.com Fantasy Football players can use the app to control their teams in real time--check scores, set line-ups, and add/drop players. The app provides information and analysis from CBSSports.com Fantasy News, including the entire team of award-winning CBSSports.com Fantasy sports writers. Fantasy players nationwide can now access via iPad the most coveted analysis and data in the business regardless of their fantasy sports provider."
  • ivi, a company which claims that "technicalities in the copyright law" allow it to deliver live broadcast-network feeds via a PC application (see the article published on itvt.com, September 13th), said Tuesday that it has received cease-and-desist letters from "big media copyright conglomerates, including NBC Universal, CBS, Disney, ABC, The CW Television Stations, Inc., Fox Television, Major League Baseball, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, WGBH, WNET.org, and Fisher Communications." The company says that it has responded to the letters "with both written clarification explaining how its technology works within the parameters of existing law, and offers to meet with broadcasters to begin a constructive dialogue about implementing [its] proprietary technology." It also says that it filed a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment of Copyright Noninfringement in the US District Court in Seattle, Monday, in what it describes as a "preemptive move to discourage needless litigation from big media." More information on ivi's complaint, and on why it believes its service does not infringe on broadcasters' copyright is available here.
  • Investment company, Motive Television, has announced an agreement to acquire Adecq Digital, a company that offers a technology called Bestv which it claims "allows DTT broadcasters to offer VOD and time-shifted viewing" via DTT rather than an Internet connection. "Bestv uses an existing DTT broadcast signal to continuously send instructions and data-cast content to a set-top box in a user's home," Motive explains in its press materials. "This results in the 'best of' existing television plus additional programming to be stored on the set-top box, accessible by the user as and when he or she wishes to view it. This allows for 'anytime' viewing or catch-up TV for the user. All the data-casting and automatic recording is provided on a 'push' basis (there is no return feed of information) so no Internet, cable or DTH should be needed. The UK's most comparable product is Sky+ Anytime, where the PVR automatically records programs transmitted overnight and stores them to the PVR hard drive allowing viewers to access popular content which is not being currently broadcast and which they did not record on their 'personal planner'. Bestv, however, combines overnight recording with real-time program recording and data-casting and enables these technologies on terrestrial networks on a 24/7 basis, whether the television is being watched or not. This facilitates the transmission of more content. In addition, users' viewing habits may be utilized to provide targeted advertising, through which the viewer cannot always fast-forward. The ability to fast-forward through advertising will be at the broadcasters' discretion."
  • UK communications regulator, Ofcom, has now officially handed responsibility for the regulation of VOD content to industry body, the Association for Television on Demand. New Media Age has more.
  • The Open IPTV Forum (OIPF)--an industry group that is attempting to bring together telcos, consumer electronics manufacturers, and network infrastructure providers, in order to develop specifications for an open, end-to-end solution that will facilitate development and deployment of interactive, personalized IPTV services (note: the organization recently announced the publication of Release 2 of its global end-to-end specifications for IPTV--see the article published on itvt.com, September 8th)--has announced the addition of four new members: KDDI (fixed-line and mobile communications), Coship Electronics (set-top boxes and other digital TV equipment), Gemalto (digital security) and Testronic Labs (quality assurance).
  • UK set-top box manufacturer, Pace, has announced the appointment of Mark Loughran, who is currently managing director of Nokia UK & Ireland, as president of a new business division called Pace Enterprise, which it says will "spearhead the development of Pace's international IP, gateway and Networks businesses as part of the Group's strategy to enable converged digital services for operators."

 

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