Interactive TV News Round-Up (IV): Cox, CTAM (Cord Cutting), Delivery Agent, Deutsche Telekom, DigiForge, DirecTV, DISH Network, Dreampark, Endemol (Foursquare), Ensequence

[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.

  • Cox Communications plans to enhance its NDS-developed tru2way EPG, Trio, with around 20 interactive TV widgets, including news and sports widgets; Facebook and Twitter support; and a "What's Hot" section that lists the programs currently most popular with other subscribers. Light Reading Cable's Steve Donohue has more.
  • CTAM has released the results of a study it commissioned from The Nielsen Company which might help soothe cable operators' fears about "cord cutting." According to the organization, the study reveals that 84% of viewers who are watching shows or movies from the Internet on their TV sets "are watching the same, or more, regularly scheduled TV since they started streaming or downloading programs or movies to watch on the TV set," and that "92% of these entertainment enthusiasts subscribe to a pay-TV service, with only 3% reporting future plans to transition from their cable subscription models."
  • Delivery Agent has been tapped by A&E Television Networks to power ecommerce on the Facebook pages of several shows on its A&E and History channels.
  • Deutsche Telekom has announced the finalists for its 2011 Interactive TV Award. The finalists will present their entries to a jury on February 18th.
  • DigiForge has developed an EBIF user agent that will enable simple, one-way DTA boxes to support EPG's, and possibly other video apps such as VOD, according to a report by Jeff Baumgartner in Light Reading Cable.
  • At TVOT NYC Intensive, DirecTV and DISH Network revealed that they are close to striking a joint deal with a media buyer to run interactive TV ads across their subscriber homes--the first such deal the two competitors have struck since forming a joint venture called the Advanced Satellite Advertising Platform (ASAP) earlier this year.
  • DISH Network has: 1) Signed a "TV Everywhere" deal with Turner Broadcasting System. 2) Launched an Ensequence-powered interactive TV application called the DISH Fantasy Tracker (see article below). 3) Partnered with Univision to offer an interactive TV voting app for the reality show, "Mira Quien Baila." 4) Announced the availability of its Logitech Revue-based Google TV solution ("Only DISH Network customers will have access to the most fully featured Google TV experience available, which includes our unique pairing protocol for simultaneous search capabilities across Web and DVR content, as well as DISH Network's VOD programming," DISH Network chief marketing officer, Ira Bahr, said in a prepared statement. "Customers can now surf the Web, check email, interact with social media, and find additional online television content all from the comfort of their living room sofa.") 5) Announced that it now supports "a true TV Everywhere offering, giving DISH Network subscribers the ability to watch all of their live and recorded television programs on compatible smartphones, tablets and laptops. DISH Network subscribers can access these features when they download and use the DISH Remote Access application in concert with their broadband-connected, Sling-enabled receiver," the company explains in its press materials. (note: the company is now offering a Sling Adapter to "Sling-enable" certain of its set-top boxes). 6) Announced the availability of DISH Remote Access for the iPad, allowing customers equipped with a Sling-enabled device to watch live TV on the Apple tablet.
  • Dreampark has announced that Swedish broadband TV company, Serverado, has selected its Dreamgallery IPTV middleware.
  • Endemol's US arm has signed an exclusive deal with Foursquare which the companies say will see them collaborating on a new programming format that will integrate the latter's check-in-based social media service. Meanwhile, Endemol Worldwide Brands has signed a deal with interactive TV/multiplatform games company, Visiware, which it says will see its "The Money Drop" format "become the first ever game show to be internationally sold incorporating a suite of built-in digital game extensions." According to the companies, Visiware will develop companion games for the format "which can be tailored to any market, [and] will initially be available via broadcaster Web sites and social networks with further extensions across mobile platforms such as iPhone and iPad expected to follow. They will include a play-along game," the companies say, "which will simultaneously mirror the nerve-racking challenges on the TV screen and a standalone game that can be played anywhere and at any time."
  • Ensequence has announced a deal with Rainbow Media's WE tv and Wedding Central to "deliver EBIF-enabled in-program interactive TV experiences, including voting and polling with live results, trivia, a live Twitter feed, RSS integration and viewing suggestions with a record/remind feature." According to the company, these interactive features "will be enabled throughout WE tv and Wedding Central's popular shows, such as 'Bridezillas,' 'My Fair Wedding with David Tutera,' 'The Locator,' and the 2011 premiere 'Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?,' along with many other viewer favorites...The agreement between Ensequence and Rainbow's WE tv and Wedding Central will enable the networks to leverage the Ensequence iTV Manager interactive platform to deliver interactive TV experiences specifically tailored to each network's unique brand environment and content," the company continues in its press materials. "WE tv and Wedding Central will be able to quickly and efficiently schedule and update interactive TV programming and report on viewer interaction trends and usage." In other Ensequence news: 1) The company has been tapped by DISH Network to power the latter's new DISH Fantasy Tracker application for the 2010-11 football season. According to the company, the new app "brings Web-like fantasy football functionality to viewers' televisions on game day, allowing them to track live stats for their favorite teams and fantasy players while watching games--without ever leaving their couch." The app will be available from 11:00AM-7:00PM every Sunday during the regular season. 2) The company has announced the promotions of a number of executives in its sales and marketing team.