Interactive TV News Round-Up (IX): Sky, Sling Media, Smarter Broadcast, Talkwit.TV, Time Warner Cable, TiVo, Tunerfish, TVGuide.com, Tvinci

[itvt]'s daily news coverage went on hiatus October 18th in order to allow our editorial staff to work full time on TVOT NYC Intensive. This issue contains a round-up of some of the major interactive TV-related news stories that have broken since then. Due to the volume of news we are covering in this issue, our summaries of each item are somewhat more abbreviated than usual (note: extensive background information on most of the companies and technologies covered in this issue can be found by using itvt.com's search functionality). We apologize for any inconvenience to our readers.

  • Sky has launched Sky Anytime+, a broadband VOD service for customers equipped with Sky+HD set-top boxes. "Once connected," the company states in its press materials, "customers will have the opportunity to access an updating library of content which they can 'pull' to their TV's to watch whenever they like. With thousands of hours of great TV to choose from, customers can access over 600 films, popular entertainment and drama 'box-sets' (including iconic series from HBO), documentaries, the arts and much more besides. As well as offering content from Sky Movies, Sky Sports, Sky Arts and Sky 1, the service--which comes at no extra charge for subscribers--will also offer a wide range of programming from third-party channels, with the on-demand library continuing to build over the coming months."
  • Sling Media has announced the availability of the SlingPlayer Mobile player for the Apple iPad and for Windows Phone 7.
  • A company called Smarter Broadcast has launched Smarter Data Agent, which it bills as a social media platform for television broadcasters. According to the company, SDA "provides everything broadcasters need to run contests, opinion polls, display viewer-generated content, automate vote tallying and a myriad of other capabilities that make television interactive--and more profitable."
  • Talkwit.TV, which bills itself as a "social guide for TV," launched last month. "Shows are ranked as they air by their social popularity with Twitter and Facebook users who post comments and hold conversations about them," the company states in its press materials. "The app is the first crowd-sourced TV viewing, recommendation and social TV platform that makes every show on every network social. Talkwit.TV mines, filters, displays and ranks the existing discussions on the most popular social networks about live TV, enabling users to discover new shows and interact with their friends and fellow fans around their favorite shows."
  • Time Warner Cable has announced a free service called Look Back that allows digital customers to go back within a 72-hour window to watch shows they may have missed. The service, which complements the MSO's Start Over service, is launching on 46 channels (23 in HD, 23 in SD) in multiple markets including New York, New England, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin and parts of Texas. In other Time Warner Cable news: 1) The company has launched Disney's new subscription VOD service, Disney Family Movies On Demand. 2) The company has launched Primetime HD On Demand, which offers HD programming from ABC, CBS and NBC. 3) The company has launched ESPN's implementation of the "TV Everywhere" distribution model.
  • TiVo has launched a free iPad application, dubbed the TiVo Premiere App. Key features of the app, as enumerated by the company, include: "1) Gesture-based control--Take complete control of all recordings, even dragging forward and back through a show with a simple tap or swipe. 2) Start watching what you want--Launch a recorded show, live TV or streaming video with the swipe of a finger. 3) Program guide--Browse your full-screen TV program guide without interrupting TV viewing. 4) Schedule--Schedule one-time recordings and Season Pass recordings from the device at home or on-the-go. 5) Get more from your shows and movies--Explore cast and crew and other recommendations of your favorite shows without interrupting the big screen. 6) Search--Search for all of your favorite TV shows, movies, actors or directors across both broadcast and broadband from Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, and more. 7) Share comments with your friends--From within the TiVo Premiere App, comment and share your thoughts to Facebook or Twitter about the show you are currently watching." In other TiVo news: 1) In time for the holiday season, the company has cut the price of its Premiere set-top box from $299 to $99 and cut the price of its Premiere XL box from $499 to $299. 2) The company has formed a long-term alliance with Telenor's Canal Digital which it says "will see TiVo products introduced and distributed as the premier consumer experience for Canal Digital Direct-to-Home (DTH) satellite customers in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland." 3) The company has reported its third-quarter financial results and subscriber totals. (Note: See also the article in this issue's Round-Up X on Virgin Media's new TiVo-based offering.)
  • Comcast-owned Tunerfish has unveiled new branding, a new design, and new features for its flagship social TV service, as well as a new version of its iPhone app.
  • TVGuide.com has announced that its TV Check-in feature, which allows users to share with their Facebook friends what TV shows they are watching, by clicking "I'll Watch" buttons on the site, has been enhanced with personalization capabilities. "Starting today, logged-in TVGuide.com users will see a personalized 'Hot List' of their favorite shows throughout the site, featuring tune-in information for the shows and 'I'll Watch' buttons," the company states in its press materials. "Since TVGuide.com launched TV Check-in Oct. 20, the site has averaged 10,000 check-ins per day. The top checked-in episodes include shows from all of the major networks, including over 7,400 distinct episodes of over 1,800 distinct TV shows on most networks." In related news, TV Guide Digital has named Marcella Regniault VP of business operations and promoted David Singer to VP of product development.
  • Pay-OTT video platform provider, Tvinci, says that it has extended its platform to tablet devices. "The company has launched customized video storefront applications for the iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab," it states in its press materials, "and offers MediaHub and MediaStore API's for customers and partners to customize their own application for additional tablets and other devices."