Interactive TV News Round-Up (VI): NBC Universal, Next New Networks, Nielsen, Ocean Blue Software, Philo, Rovi, Sonic Solutions, Cox

Because the [itvt] editorial team has been on the road the past few weeks, we are covering recent news in round-up/summary form. Due to the volume of news we are covering in this issue, our summaries 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's search functionality). We apologize for any inconvenience to our readers: our regular daily news coverage will return shortly.

  • NBC Universal has announced its plans for CES, of which it is once again the "official broadcast partner."
  • Broadband video content provider, Next New Networks, has recently raised $1 million in debt financing, according to an SEC filing. Meanwhile, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the company is also in talks about being acquired by Google-owned YouTube.
  • The Nielsen Company says that its latest report on DVR usage has found, among other things, that "viewers do watch commercials on their DVR's. Among DVR homes," the company states on its blog, "playback lifts commercial ratings by 44% among 18-49's after three days. Among all 18-49 year-old viewers DVR playback adds 16% to commercial ratings after three days."
  • Ocean Blue Software has announced a collaboration with Renesas Electronics to port/integrate the Ocean Blue/Opera HbbTV solution to Renesas' EMMA 3SL/P HD system-on-a-chip. "By integrating our EMMA3SL SoC's with HbbTV from Ocean Blue, we are able to perfectly meet customer demands for cost-effective solutions that provide required performance for both IP-enabled and broadcast pay-TV," Daniel Tanniere, general manager of Renesas Electronics Europe's Communications and Consumer Business Unit, said in a prepared statement. "We hope to extend our collaboration with Ocean Blue Software on our future R-Home products developed through Renesas Electronics' new integrated SoC platform."
  • Social TV company, Philo, teamed with BBC America to organize a live virtual viewing party for the Christmas Day broadcast of "Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol." Viewers who checked in to the show could chat live with other viewers, unlock various badges and enter a competition to win real-world prizes, such as "Doctor Who" tote bags and action figures.
  • Rovi and Sonic Solutions have announced that they have signed a definitive agreement for Rovi to acquire Sonic in a stock and cash transaction worth approximately $720 million. "Rovi, a provider of next-generation guidance solutions including TotalGuide, discovery, metadata, advertising and networking technologies and Sonic, a provider of digital video processing, playback and distribution technologies, both leaders in the digital entertainment industry, together will bring an end-to-end solution that enables integration across the ecosystem," the companies state in their press materials. "The acquisition of Sonic will enable Rovi to broaden its solutions to content owners, device makers, retailers and operators. Sonic has licensed its industry-leading cloud-based digital media delivery infrastructure known as RoxioNow, to major retailers, movie studios and CE manufacturers. RoxioNow incorporates a catalog of over 10,000 movies and TV programs, which are accessible through connected CE devices such as digital televisions, Blu-ray players and mobile phones. The RoxioNow technology is expected to be on over 30 million connected devices by June 2011. Sonic's DivX offering is distributed in over 350 million CE devices. The DivX player software has been downloaded over 100 million times per year and 500 million times cumulatively, and has had over 2.5 billion launches since 2009. Sonic's broad offerings coupled with Rovi's guide software and metadata will generate an expanded solution and a richer user experience. With a footprint spanning hundreds of millions of devices and households, Rovi believes this will expand its advertising distribution opportunity. The combined company will be able to power the next generation of digital entertainment offerings with content discovery, delivery, and enhanced interactivity capabilities that support advertising and drive consumer engagement. Integration between RoxioNow and TotalGuide has already occurred as part of the TotalGuide general availability release--RoxioNow's retail customers are supported through TotalGuide. In the future, Rovi expects to power RoxioNow's user experience with the same Web services that power TotalGuide. Rovi believes this integration will result in accelerated uptake of premium content."
  • In other Rovi news: The company has announced that it has signed a multi-year EPG patent license agreement with Cox Communications. According to the company, the agreement "provides Cox with a license to the Rovi IPG patent portfolio for Cox's broadband and mobile platforms, expanding the existing relationship between the two companies that has been primarily focused on their set-top box platform." Said Rovi's SVP of licensing, Samir Armaly: "As consumers look to access entertainment content across various devices and platforms, cable MSO service providers are delivering content through broadband and mobile, expanding beyond the cable set-top box platform. Our agreement highlights the value of our IPG patent portfolio to service providers like Cox in bringing subscribers access to entertainment programming information across multiple platforms."


North America