Interactive TV News Round-Up (I): Accedo Broadband, ADB, AdaptiveBlue (GetGlue), Amino, AT&T, Avail-TVN, Ball State University (OEDN), BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer

[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.

  • Accedo Broadband has announced that Viasat has tapped it to help develop, test and launch its Viasat OnDemand application for the LG NetCast platform. "Viasat OnDemand is already available for consumers to watch via the Internet on their computer or through mobile phones or the Viasat OnDemand box in the households of Viasat's satellite TV subscribers," Accedo states in its press materials. "By extending this service to offer it as OTT to connected TV's, consumers will be able to catch up from the comfort of their living rooms on their home TV's."
  • ADB Group has 1) acquired Pirelli Broadband Solutions; and 2) secured a deal to deliver its ADB-5720SX hybrid DVR, pre-integrated with its Carbo user interface, to Canal Digital.
  • AdaptiveBlue, the company behind the social TV check-in service, GetGlue, has raised $6 million in a third round of funding that was led by Time Warner and that also saw the participation of existing investors, RRE Ventures and Union Square Ventures. The company recently announced a promotion under which GetGlue users can receive 30% off merchandise for shows on Fox, FX, MTV and HBO at www.shoptheshows.com.
  • IPTV set-top box company, Amino Communications, has announced: 1) A deal to provide the City of Salisbury, North Carolina with its A140 and A540 MPEG-4 set-tops. 2) A deal to provide Oregon-based Canby Telcom with its A130 and A530 boxes, with a planned migration to its A140 and A540 boxes next year. 3) A deal to provide Lenox Municipal Utilities with a range of PVR-enabled set-tops, beginning with the A530. 4) A joint solution with Innovative Systems which it claims "brings together multiple voice and video solutions into a single platform." 5) A partnership with blinkx, under which the companies plan to "develop an integrated search, recommendation and personalization solution powered by blinkx technology to be deployed on Amino's hybrid/OTT set-top boxes, including the award-winning Amino Freedom, which brings broadcast, on-demand TV, open Internet and local content together in a single device." 6) A joint solution with Bluestreak Technology which it says "integrates Bluestreak Technology's MachBlue family of application platform products with Amino's Freedom DVB-T hybrid/OTT media center to deliver Web services, Internet video, and applications to the TV." 7) A partnership with TransGaming to provision the latter's GameTree TV games-on-demand platform into the Amino Freedom hybrid set-top box. 8) The deployment by Telecom Italia of the Amino Freedom.
  • AT&T has announced that U-verse TV customers now have full access to HBO's and Cinemax's "TV Everywhere" services, HBOGo.com and MaxGo.com. Meanwhile, Technologizer's Jacqueline Emigh has a report on a recent New York City press event in which AT&T Labs showcased some of its newest technologies.
  • VOD content/distribution services provider, Avail-TVN, has commissioned a survey from Frank N. Magid Associates that measures consumer attitudes toward VOD. According to the survey, "nearly two-thirds of consumers--63%--say that availability of television program episodes on-demand makes them more likely to watch those television shows on a regular basis," and "nearly 30% indicated that they had discovered new shows through on-demand, and now watch them regularly when they air on linear TV."
  • Ball State University has launched the Viewing+ initiative, which it bills as "a formal program of research that will explore consumer attitudes and behaviors in the emerging domain of interactive television." According to the university, Viewing+ will address four areas key to interactive TV development: interactivity and programming, interactivity and advertising, interactivity in search and navigation, and the evolution of tcommerce. A core component of Viewing+ is an advisory board that is expected to "gather industry experts to help direct the project's research agenda and lend intellectual capital to the initiative." The board's first members are CBS and OEDN. According to Ball State, the formation of Viewing+ stems from the university's involvement in the OEDN Academic Outreach Program, which it says "for two years gave students, faculty and researchers special access to EBIF (Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format) development tools, facilitating the development of interactive TV applications including [a] C-SPAN test application produced by faculty and students in spring, 2010."
  • BBC oversight body, the BBC Trust, has published a report which concludes that while the BBC Red Button "is the UK's most used interactive TV service and serves a large and diverse group of users...its substantial distribution costs need to be reduced, and audience appreciation of the service could be higher." A press release from the BBC Trust summarizes the findings of its report as follows: "The review looked at Red Button's performance, including usage, quality and value for money. It found that the service is used by a broad cross-section of the population, with an average of 12.7 million users every week. It also found that Red Button has a role in providing interactive services to sections of the audience who don't access the BBC's other interactive services--5 million Red Button users do not use BBC Online. The total cost for the Red Button service is substantial, at £39.3m in 09/10. The large number of people that access the service means that cost per user is low compared to other BBC services, at 6.4p per week. Nonetheless, audience appreciation is moderate rather than high, and it does not achieve the same high quality scores as other BBC interactive services, such as BBC Online and iPlayer. More than £20m of the cost of running Red Button is spent on distribution--the cost of delivering the service to different platforms--as it provides a different level of service depending on the TV platform through which it is viewed. In its review, the Trust asks that Red Button should seek to reduce costs and refine its remit by offering a service that varies less between digital TV platforms, and so improves the consistency of service for viewers. To improve value for money, the review asks that Red Button should strive to reduce its costs by focusing on its strengths rather than seeking to cover all genres. Red Button's digital text service, providing news stories, weather updates and sports results, draws the most visitors; its additional coverage of live events--such as Glastonbury, Formula 1 and the Olympics--is also popular with audiences." In other BBC Red Button news: 1) The corporation has released the programming schedule for the service through December 17th. 2) The BBC Red Button homepage has been redesigned to improve access to MHEG-IC connected TV services on Freesat (a development that was welcomed by the MHEG advocacy organization, IMPALA).
  • The BBC has revealed plans to launch the BBC iPlayer internationally, most likely starting in the US. Initially, the service will be available on a subscription-only basis and only on the iPad. Paid Content has more. Meanwhile, BBC Vision director, Jana Bennett, is moving to BBC Worldwide to head up the launch of the Global iPlayer. She will join the corporation's commercial subsidiary in February as president of worldwide networks and Global iPlayer. In other BBC news: 1) BBC Drama Multiplatform and BBC Three have commissioned "Becoming Human," an interactive, online extension of the drama, "Being Human." "The 'Becoming Human' online extension doesn't just consist of nine episodes, the narrative extends beyond that with daily clues in the form of press cuttings, anonymous tips, CCTV footage, [and] mobile phone clips...giving the online audience the chance to follow the mystery on the blog as it unfolds," BBC multiplatform drama commissioner, Sarah Clay, said in a prepared statement. 2) The corporation has announced that it will introduce a new system for measuring its audiences. "The system, called Live Plus 7, will incorporate the total audience consuming content across all platforms, including live, recordings, narrative repeats, BBC iPlayer and HD for seven days after transmission," the BBC explains in its press materials.